Synthetic bio startup Huue has raised $14.6 million in a Series A funding round for what it says is the world’s first clean and scalable indigo dye for denim.
“The world can’t wait for sustainable solutions, and consumers are starting to hold their favorite brands accountable for using eco-friendly materials in their products,” Michelle Zhu, CEO of Huue, said in a statement.
Huue’s raise brings its total funding to date to $17.6 million. The latest raise comes after nabbing Time Magazine’s ‘Best Invention of 2021’ title for its proprietary tech. The funding comes by way of Material Impact with participation from HSBC Asset Management’s Climate Tech VC as well as its roster of current investors: SOSV, iGlobe, and Nobel prize winner and CRISPR Technology inventor Jennifer Doudna and Professor Jamie Cate.
Funding the future of fashion
“We’re excited to have the opportunity to accelerate with support from our existing and new investors, Material Impact and HSBC Asset Management’s Climate Tech VC Fund, who share our vision for a sustainable and scalable future for consumer goods,” Zhu said. Corinna Chen, Partner at Material Impact, will join Huue’s Board of Directors.
“At Material Impact, we seek out deep tech innovation that has the capacity to solve meaningful world problems,” said Chen. “Huue’s breakthrough approach to bio-based dye manufacturing is a true gamechanger for industries under mounting pressure to minimize their environmental footprint. Huue’s market entry is perfectly timed, and we are thrilled to be partnering with this talented team to scale up and commercialize the dye of the future.”
The funding will help the company accelerate its commercial scale-up and product offerings for the fashion industry. Huue says demand for sustainability in the fashion industry is at an all-time high. And while that’s largely been focused on materials, dyes have been a key area of concern for years; textile dyeing is a leading source of wastewater. The process is also heavily reliant on chemicals that pose human health and environmental risks.
“At Huue, we’ve developed a way to tap into biology’s artistry to create clean color solutions—without the environmental impact and harmful chemicals,” says Zhu.
Huue uses a proprietary bio-based dyeing process that relies on enzyme-produced dyes that mimic how colors are produced in nature. Huue says its technology offers a one-to-one manufacturing solution.
Denim is Huue’s first target—it’s the most common apparel item in the world, the company says. But the technology has applications that extend into other categories including food and beverage as well as personal care items.