At Applied DNA, they’re really getting into leather

Zip it up: Applied DNA Sciences is looking to lock down the international leather-industry supply chain.

A new international partnership backed by a host of well-known global brands will develop DNA-based security and product-authentication solutions for the leather industries.

Stony Brook-based biotech Applied DNA Sciences this week announced a “research agreement” with BLC Leather Technology Centre, a UK-based R&D firm that delivers a range of services to leather suppliers, manufacturers and distributors in some 40 countries. Applied DNA President and CEO James Hayward introduced the program March 30 at the BLC-sponsored Sustainability in the Leather Supply Chain conference in Hong Kong.

Underwritten by several multinational brands – including German sneaker titan PUMA SE and UK shoemaker C&J Clark International – the research agreement will create and test new product-authentication systems based on Applied DNA’s flagship SigNature DNA assay.

Victoria Addy: Promoting sustainability, safeguarding livestock.

The goal: DNA-based tracking protocols capable of providing “comprehensive and verifiable leather traceability from farm to finished products,” according to the Stony Brook company.

That would mark a major milestone for the leather industries, according to BLC Leather Technology Centre Technical Director Victoria Addy, with a number of commercial and environmental benefits – including solutions to some “key issues currently facing brand owners.”

“The ability to have a truly secure supply chain for the leather industry using Applied DNA platforms would provide full traceability and the opportunity for real environmental sustainability,” Addy said in a statement, noting benefits ranging from supply-chain management to “animal welfare.”

The new research agreement also marks another Applied DNA foray into textiles, long considered a promised land of sorts by company executives. Earlier this month, Hayward again referenced cotton and other “natural commodities” as key to turning around his supply-chain, anti-counterfeiting, anti-theft and product-authentication specialist’s long string of subpar quarterly financial performances, noting his company’s progress in the cotton industry “is cloneable with other natural fibers.”

“The cotton vertical is obviously important, but it’s just one part of the textile world and one part of the world of natural commodities,” Hayward told Innovate LI. “We can assure many manufacturers and consumers of the authenticity of their product and sources.”

The new research collaboration is not the first time Applied DNA and the BLC Leather Technology Centre have buddied up. In 2016, the two entities signed a Memorandum of Understanding to begin using SigNature DNA products to mark animal pelts that would ultimately be made into finished leather goods by “designated manufacturers,” according to the agreement.

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