Biotech start-up Pili has raised US$15.8m in Series A Funding to accelerate its industrialisation by producing the first tons of bio-based sustainable dyes.

Founded in 2015, Pili’s hybrid technology combines industrial fermentation and green chemistry. This offers an ecological and competitive alternative to petrochemical dyes and pigments.

The company aims to replace petro-based indigo with a high-performance bio-based indigo, drastically reducing oil dependence, and cutting CO2 emissions from its production by more than 50%.

This funding round brings together several investors, including the fund Ecotechnologies 2, managed on behalf of the French government by Bpifrance as part of the France 2030 program. With a budget of EUR54b, the France 2030 program plans on investing 50% of its spending to decarbonising the economy, and 50% to emerging, innovative players such as Pili.

Other investors include Famille C Participations and an Italian-based privately owned company, alongside existing investors: the PSL Innovation Fund of Elaia Partners, SOSV and the German business angel network

The company has already secured several million euros of pre-orders of bio-based sustainable dyes and pigments in the ink, paints, and textile sectors. Its focus is now on delivering product to its first customers and setting up a production unit. This demonstration unit will complement the company’s industrial pilot that has been operational since 2022.

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Jérémie Blache, CEO at Pili, comments: “Decarbonising the colour industry is challenging as it relies on cheap fossil-based resources. With more than 30 million euros invested since its creation, Pili is building up the necessary capacity to revolutionise colour dye production globally and do without oil as the main raw material.”

Guillaume Boissonnat-Wu, scientific and industrial director at Pili, states that “The development of a new biotechnological process has paved the way for our first ton-scale production of aromatic intermediates. Our micro-organisms can produce, through a fast and efficient process, a high purity low-carbon compound. This can be converted into dyes and pigments.”

In February 2023, fellow French tech startup Ever Dye also secured major investment, showcasing that sustainable dyes are an appealing product for investors.