Brett Cotten ('18 Biochem, Engineering Entrepreneurship)

Brett Cotten 2024 Gerald I. Susman Sustainability Leadership Award

Portrait of Brett Cotten.2024 Gerald I. Susman Sustainability Leadership Award

Brett Cotten is a climate-tech entrepreneur focused on removing animals and plastics from global supply chains. The use and abuse of animals, which humans treat as factories for making raw materials, alongside the rising problem of microplastics for global health, make these issues urgent to solve for people, fellow animals, and the planet.

A passion for sci-fi and biotech led Brett to pursue a BSc in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Penn State from 2014-2018. Wanting to explore the business side of science, Brett completed a minor in Engineering Entrepreneurship, spending time across Eberly, Engineering, and Smeal.

Post-graduation, Brett interviewed founders and wrote a book for a year, Gene-trepreneur, about biotech entrepreneurship impacting the climate through food and materials. One founder interviewed completed the MBA for biotech (MBE) at The University of Cambridge in the early 2000s. Brett followed suit and moved to the UK in 2019.

Post-Cambridge, Brett worked in venture capital due diligence, helped found a venture studio, and did business development for an Austrian startup turning CO2 into amino acids. However, wanting to meet a co-founder and start his own business, Brett joined an accelerator called Entrepreneur First in London, which is basically Love Island meets Shark Tank, and found his match – an Oxford chemist named TJ.

Today, the pair live and work in the craft brewing hub of London, where they founded Arda Biomaterials to transform globally abundant waste streams into valuable, animal-free, and plastic-free biomaterials. Arda’s first transformation is turning spent barley grain from beer breweries and whisky distilleries into a novel material for use in fashion, footwear, and automotive.