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PARIS – A French biotech dye business which engineers microbes to produce natural dyes for textiles has received US$3m in funding to enable it to scale its work. The financial package includes US$1.1m from the Fashion For Good accelerator, WISEED (equity crowdfunding), business angels and existing investor support. BPI France will also contribute US$1.9m via the Global Innovation Challenge to back the development of Pili’s biotech dyes.

Pili said the backing will allow it to strengthen its technological lead and fermentation processes to produce high-performance bio-based dyes and pigments.

PILI is involved in the production of biotech dyes and pigments using proprietary enzymatic technology and has made several notable commercial breakthroughs which offer interesting possibilities for the textile sector.

The textile industry is increasingly interested in the biotech sector, whose recent progresses in synthetic biology have boosted its potential to provide clean and competitive solutions.

Synthetic colours are widely used in textile production, however, toxicity problems caused by synthetic pigments have triggered intense research in natural colours and dyes, various studies finding that pigment producing microorganisms hold a promising potential.

Pili team is not the first organisation to seek microbial alternatives to chemical inks and dyes. Scientists at University of California, Berkeley have in recent years bioengineered Escherichia coli to make more sustainable indigo for jeans, while the Berlin-based design firm Blond & Bieber created algae dyes that change colour as they’re worn. This is a market that is moving fast.


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