Pili was born thanks to the success of the educational workshop created by one of the founders, Marie-Sarah Adenis, during her studies at the National Higher Industrial School. The study focused on the production of dyes, alternative to petrochemical products, using biomass. We met in 2013 at the La Paillasse joint lab, when we were all from very different backgrounds: music and finance for me, design and biology for Marie-Sarah Adeni, chemistry for Guillaume Boisson and biology for Thomas Landren. We decided to work together on a project to reduce the impact of dyes and pigments on the environment, winning the Coup de coeur at the Genopole d’Evry startup competition in December 2014.
Reduce CO2 exposure by at least 50%.
The impact of CO2 Dyes are often neglected in textiles, paints or packaging, as they account for 10 to 50% of carbon emissions over the life cycle of the product. Worldwide, these emissions account for 50% of emissions in a country like France combined. Therefore, in 2015 we founded Pili under the auspices of the accelerator of startups IndieBio. The latter was started by the American investment fund SOSV, one of our first shareholders of the French fund Elaia.
Our patented manufacturing process first involves fermentation and then green chemistry steps, including photocatalysis, which uses less energy than oil, to convert these molecules into dyes and pigments. In Toulouse, we select strains of bacteria based on their ability to more efficiently convert sugars from molasses, cereals, wood and paper waste of tomorrow into intermediate products. These molecules are then converted into dyes and pigments in our joint laboratory with the National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts in Paris. On average, we strive to reduce at least 50% of CO emissions2 dyes and pigments, and in some cases up to 80%.
The first jeans this year
We are currently developing indigo dye for textiles on an industrial scale. The first hundred jeans made with our dye will be released this year. We work for Europe, Asia, the Middle East and America at the same time. Construction of a pilot project will begin in the Lyon region by the end of June. Our team of about thirty people should expand to three recruits. The demonstration will begin in 2023. For the plant, scheduled for 2024, the choice of location has not yet been determined, but we want to create it in France.
Opportunities beyond color
We expect to complete a new round of funding of 15 million euros by the end of the year. In addition to the variety of assistance that we have been able to benefit from even recently under the France Relance plan, the National Research Agency or a three-year European bioresource project, our funding is around € 30 million. … After the industrialization of pigments for paints, dyes and plastics in 2023, we will develop textile dyes for synthetic and cellulose fibers, such as cotton, linen or hemp. Our intermediates can also be used in the future for the production of materials as well as ingredients for food and cosmetics.