Boston Startup Evolved By Nature Gets Help From Major Brands
Much of the sustainable economy is built on partnerships – big companies providing financial backing to ESG-focused startups in need of cash and startups helping those large financial backers improve their own sustainability programs. A case in point is Evolved By Nature, a sustainable biotech that creates renewably sourced solutions such as natural, silk-based alternatives to chemicals used in textile manufacturing.
Founded in 2013, Evolved By Nature got a big financial boost six years later when French luxury icon Chanel took a minority stake in the Boston-based startup. As Vogue reported, Chanel’s move came after it published an initial report on its environmental efforts and banned exotic skins. The Evolved By Nature investment was designed to help Chanel overcome the difficulty in sourcing skins that met its quality and ethical standards.
For Evolved By Nature, having a global fashion brand on board validated its technology and opened the doors to investor interest from other major brands, including The Kraft Group.
The company’s latest funding round came on June 30, when it closed $120 million in Series C financing led by Teachers’ Venture Growth (TVG), the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board, and Senator Investment Group. Other participants in the round included existing investors Chanel, Kraft, Mousse Partners, Chanel, Jeff Vinik, Roy Disney, and Emerald Development Managers.
Evolved By Nature makes biodegradable coatings used in luxury handbags and apparel. It sells the coatings to leather tanneries, fabric mills, and fashion labels. Reuters reported that these coatings are expected to generate 30% of Evolved By Nature’s overall sales by the end of 2024. The company also sells proprietary Activated Silk technology, designed to reduce dependence on synthetics and fossil fuel derivatives and expand the boundaries of regenerative medicine. End markets include apparel, personal care, and medicine.
“Overuse of fossil fuel-derived petrochemicals has altered the biochemistry of the human body and the planet’s life support systems,” Evolved By Nature CEO and Co-Founder Dr. Greg Altman said. “With TVG’s support, we can now reimagine new therapeutics and global supply chains that foster healthier relationships between industries and ecosystems, focusing first on skin treatments and high-performance coatings for leather and apparel.”
Proceeds from the June 30 funding round will accelerate the commercialization of Evolved By Nature’s Activated Silk technology platform. The round coincided with the launch of a new manufacturing facility that will ramp up production volumes to 900 metric tons of Activated Silk per year. The facility, located in Walpole, Massachusetts, opened in May 2022 and currently produces 150 metric tons of Activated Silk per year.
The extra capacity should help speed up the launch of Activated Silk skin barrier ingredients in brand-owned and third-party personal care products. These ingredients replace fossil fuel derivatives such as petroleum and synthetic ingredients like retinoids. Evolved by Nature also aims to develop therapeutics to improve skin and treat overlooked conditions.
“With this investment, we can now make our library of Activated Silk molecules available to global development partners,” COO and Co-Founder Dr. Rebecca Lacouture said in a statement. “Together, we can enhance the performance potential of – essentially – any surface.”
Funds will also be used to advance global sales of Evolved By Nature’s sustainable alternatives to the petrochemical coatings used by the leather and textile industries. Over the past year, the company’s biodegradable finishes have been adopted by fashion brand Anya Hindmarch, nylon mill operators Alpine Creations and Apex Holdings, and leather tanneries operated by Richard Hoffmans, Cyclica, and Curtidos Bengala.