Sparxell secures $3.2M for sustainable plant-based pigments

Sparxell’s pigments use the same material that many plants and animals use to produce vivid, durable, and fade-resistant colourants.
Sparxell secures $3.2M for sustainable plant-based pigments

Today Sparxell, the UK-based developer of high-performance, sustainable, plant-based pigments, has completed a $3.2 million funding round (comprising Seed investments, grants, and awards).

Sparxell was founded in 2022 by Cambridge scientists, led by Dr Benjamin Droguet and Professor Silvia Vignolini, who discovered ways to replicate vibrant colours in nature using fully plant-based cellulose. This renewable, biodegradable resource can be extracted from waste streams. 

Sparxell’s pigments use the same material that many plants and animals use to produce vivid, durable, and fade-resistant colourants. The products are toxin-free and fully biodegradable with a colour intensity that lasts longer than traditional colourants and pigments on the market. 

According to Sparxwll founder and CEO Dr Benjamin Droguettraditional chemical colourants cause major environmental harm at every stage of their lifecycle, from manufacture to degradation. 

Over 10,000 fossil-based chemicals are used in current colouration processes. 

The textile industry is a well-known emitter of dyes and microplastics, with over 1.5 million tonnes entering the environment every year. At the same time, paint has recently been recognised as the largest source of microplastics in the ocean.

“The global movement towards plant-based alternatives has experienced exceptional growth in recent years with a reshaping of entire industries such as meat and dairy. 

The same opportunity exists within colourants, driven by a common interest of consumers, brands and regulators to transition to fully sustainable, biodegradable, circular products. "

Sparxell’s plant-based materials can be grown and sourced locally in a complete rethink of how colours are currently being manufactured while reducing transport emissions with industrial applications from cosmetics and textiles to paints and packaging.

Sparxell has already engaged in product innovation partnerships with applications for sustainable colourants, including car manufacturers, high-end fashion brands, and cosmetic goods manufacturers.  

The Circular Innovation Fund, a global venture capital fund jointly managed by Demeter and Cycle Capital with L’Oréal as an anchor investor, participated in the seed funding alongside others, including SpaceX-backer Future Communities Capital, sustainability-focused investor PDS Ventures, impact investor Katapult, biotech and consumer sectors investor Joyance Partners and climate investor SNØCAP VC.  

Sparxell’s science has already won several significant awards, including the $100k 2023 Ray of Hope Award from the Biomimicry Institute and $250k funding as part of the Morgan Stanley’s Sustainable Collaborative Prize.  

“The Circular Innovation Fund has invested in Sparxell because its nature-inspired colourants address a range of concerns including plastic waste, carbon emissions, human rights, and water savings. With colourants being such an important component of cosmetics, we are especially excited to see the application of Sparxell products in this sector,” said Stéphane Villecroze, Co-founder and Managing Partner at Circular Innovation Fund.  

Jørn Haanæs, Investment Director, Partner – Investment Management, at Katapult, shared:

“When we came across Sparxell, we came to realise just how big the market for pigmentation is and how large the potential impact on the climate could be.”

Funds raised will enable Sparxell to expand its manufacturing capacity to support pilot production, secure further product development partnerships with brands, undertake more product trials with key manufacturers and distributors, and expand headcount. 

Lead image: Sparxell. Photo: uncredited. 

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