With Pili, Jeremy Blache puts green chemistry at the service of color

unlikely meeting

Pili was born from the success of an educational workshop created by one of the founders, Marie-Sarah Adenis, during her studies at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle. The research focused on the production of dyes as an alternative to petrochemicals using biomass. We met in 2013 at the La Paillasse joint laboratory, when we all had very different backgrounds: music and finance from me, design and biology from Marie-Sarah Adeny, chemistry from Guillaume Boisson and biology from Thomas Landrin. We decided to work together on a project to reduce the environmental impact of dyes and pigments by winning the Coup de coeur prize at the Genopole d’Evry start-up competition in December 2014.

Reduced CO2 exposure by at least 50%

exposure to CO2 dyes are often neglected in textiles, paints or packaging, although they account for 10 to 50% of carbon emissions over a product’s life cycle. On a global scale, these emissions are 50% of those of a country like France, when all sources are taken into account. So in 2015, we founded Pili under the auspices of the startup accelerator IndieBio. The latter was launched by the American investment fund SOSV, one of our first shareholders of the French fund Elaia.

Our proprietary manufacturing process first includes 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 bacterial strains based on their ability to more efficiently convert sugars from molasses, grain, wood and paper waste 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 aim to reduce CO2 emissions by at least 50%.2 dyes and pigments, and in some cases up to 80%.

Jeremy Blache in Pili's office on the rue Charlot in Paris.

Jeremy Blache in Pili’s office on the rue Charlot in Paris.© Amanda Sellem for “Les Echos Weekend”

First jeans this year

We are currently developing industrial-scale indigo dye for textiles. This year will see the release of the first 100 jeans made with our dye. We work for Europe, Asia, Middle East and America at the same time. Construction of the pilot will begin by the end of June in the Lyon area. Our team of thirty people should expand on this occasion with three new recruits. A demonstrator will follow in 2023. For the plant, scheduled for 2024, the choice of site has not yet been determined, but we want to install it in France.

Possibilities beyond color

We expect to complete a new funding round of 15 million euros before the end of the year. In addition to the various assistance that we have been able to take advantage of recently through the France Relance plan, the National Research Agency or the three-year European bio-ink project, our funding is approaching 30 million euros in total. . . . After the industrialization of pigments for inks, paints and plastics in 2023, we will develop textile dyes for synthetic and cellulose fibers such as cotton, linen or hemp. Our intermediate products may also be used in the future for the production of materials, as well as ingredients for food and cosmetics.