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Octarine Bio raises €4.35M to transform sustainable dyes in the fashion industry

Unconventional Ventures and Octarine Bio's founders
Image credit: Octarine Bio

Danish synthetic biology startup Octarine Bio has concluded a €4.35 million funding round. The round was led by impact venture capital firm, Unconventional Ventures, with participation from Óskare Capital, The Footprint Firm, and dsm-firmenich Venturing. The investment will be used to accelerate and scale Octarine’s portfolio, helping to transform fashion with sustainable, natural dyes.

An alternative to harmful dyeing processes

Textile dyeing is a major contributor to environmental degradation, and conventional synthetic dyes pose significant challenges. Significantly derived from petroleum, production is energy intensive and generates toxic chemicals: collectively it is responsible for 2.4% of global greenhouse gas emissions, 20% of the world’s wastewater, and 35% of all chemicals released into the environment. And to compound concerns about traditional dyeing, some processes can be toxic, using chemicals that are carcinogenic and mutagenic.

Octarine Bio’s pioneering dyeing solution, dubbed OB-CLR, creates dyes using precision microbial fermentation, an industry first. Focusing on violacein, a naturally occurring pigment, Octarine Bio are able to satisfy the fashion industry’s desire for unique and hard-to-source colours. They are currently developing their products in partnership with American biotech Gingko Bioworks.

Their dye can work directly on both natural and man-made fibres without the need for additional chemicals or special conditions. It means there is a viable natural alternative for manufacturers that does not carry a heavy environmental toll.

The fashion industry often faces criticism for its practices and the impact of fast-fashion. But Octarine Bio’s approach, creating dyes that can integrate seamlessly with existing supply chains, promises a new era of eco-friendly fashion.

Thea Messel, Co-founder and General Partner at Unconventional Ventures, praised Octarine Bio’s potential. “The textile industry must switch to a more aggressive decarbonisation trajectory in order to reduce its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution and, ultimately, climate change,” she said. “Octarine’s ground-breaking technology leads the way in transitioning the industry towards sustainable practices and away from harmful synthetic dyes.”

A future of sustainable fashion

Nethaji Gallage, CEO and co-founder of Octarine, stressed their commitment to sustainability in fashion. “At Octarine, we are driven by a more sustainable future where pressing environmental and social challenges are met with innovative, game-changing, and sustainable solutions,” he said.

The latest investment brings the total raised by Octarine Bio to over €12 million. But, perhaps more importantly, it positions the company to scale and expand its product portfolio, making it both a leader in nature-based dyes and a catalyst that helps to transform the fashion industry into a more sustainable and environmentally friendly sector.

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