18 December 2018
Norwich, UK: Colorifix, a company that has developed the first commercial biological dyeing process, has raised a Series A round of $3 million from impact and strategic investors with strong links to the fashion industry. The round was led by Challenger 88, with participation from Cambridge Enterprise, H&M CO:LAB (part of H&M Group) and Primera Impact. The funds will support the expansion of the company’s Norwich-based facility and the team build-out as Colorifix launches a number of pilots with several leading players in the international fashion industry.
Dr Orr Yarkoni, CEO of Colorifix commented: “It took us a while to find the right investors but I really don’t think we could have built a more strategic and impactful partnership moving forwards than the one we have now. Our investors are passionate about our mission towards the environment and will certainly help us on the long road to changing a global industry”. Wolfgang Hafenmayer, Managing Partner of Challenger 88 said “The more time we have spent with the Colorifix team, the more excited we have become about their novel approach to dyeing which has the potential to radically improve one of the most environmentally destructive industries on the planet.”
Dr Orr Yarkoni, also commented, “without any shadow of a doubt, we knew we needed good legal advice moving forward. It’s such a big challenge and there’s no way we could have done it ourselves. Engaging Mathys & Squire LLP was definitely the right move. I was really impressed with the level of understanding and care with which our process has been handled, especially given the complexity of integrating biotechnology in an entirely new manufacturing process. Craig Titmus (Partner responsible for our IP portfolio) has been a lifesaver on more than one occasion and has always been willing to pick up the phone, even whilst on holiday.”
Instead of using toxic and non-renewable petrochemicals, Colorifix uses synthetic biology methods to create a range of colours produced naturally by organisms such as microbes, plants, animals and insects. By engineering microorganisms to produce naturally-occurring pigments, Colorifix converts agricultural by-products such as sugar molasses into colorants suitable for textile dyeing. Importantly, the microorganisms also transfer the colour onto a fabric or garment, resulting in additional water and energy savings. By providing a solution that uses ten times less water than traditional dyeing processes and zero heavy metals, organic solvents or acids, while still achieving excellent results in independently certified quality tests, Colorifix is catching the attention of influential forces across the textile industry.
About Colorifix: Colorifix is the first company to apply biological dyeing to the commercial dyeing of polyamide-based jersey, polyester and cotton fabrics, and research is already underway to apply the technology to other natural and synthetic fabrics. Synthetic biology technology is already safely utilised at scale in other industries such as the production of textile scouring enzymes and bio-based chemicals. Colorifix was founded in 2016 by Drs James Ajioka, Orr Yarkoni and David Nugent following their successful collaboration on a project funded by the Wellcome Trust to develop a biosensor for detecting arsenic in drinking water.
About Challenger 88: Challenger 88 advises family offices and endowments on impact investing topics, from building impact investment strategies across asset classes, to identifying venture capital and private equity opportunities with a positive societal impact. Founded by Wolfgang Hafenmayer and Raya Papp, the team leverages decades of combined impact investing experience and its global network to help clients align their capital with their values.
About Cambridge Enterprise: A wholly owned subsidiary of the University of Cambridge, Cambridge Enterprise Limited is responsible for the commercialisation of University intellectual property. It provides access to early stage capital through the Cambridge Enterprise Seed Funds, University of Cambridge Enterprise Funds and Cambridge Enterprise Venture Partners, and offers business planning, mentoring and related programmes. Activities include management and licensing of intellectual property and patents, proof of concept funding and support for University staff and research groups wishing to provide expert advice or facilities to public and private sector organisations.
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