AlgiKnit’s Algae-Based Materials Could Fix Textile Industry’s Toxic Habits
AlgiKnit’s mission is to offer more environmentally friendly materials for the highly polluting fashion and textile industries. The startup develops materials from algae such as Macrocystis pyrifera, one of the most renewable and regenerative organisms on the planet, creating yarns and fibers that don’t rely on petroleum or toxic chemicals.
Aleks Gosiewski, Aaron Nesser and Tessa Callaghan found the materials used in the textile industry to be incredibly harmful to the environment and ultimately found it hard to reconcile after working in fashion in different capacities. This raised the question: is there a way to design better products and more sustainable materials themselves? And so, the trio founded AlgiKnit in 2017.
“Giant Kelp does not depend on harmful fertilizers and pesticides to grow, does not require the use of arable land or fresh water, and effectively sequesters CO2 of the ocean,” Tessa Callaghan, CEO and co-founder of AlgiKnit, told TechCrunch.
Today, AlgiKnit announced that it has raised a $13 million Series A led by Collaborative Fund, with participation from H&M CO:LAB (the investment arm of H&M Group), Starlight Ventures, Third Nature Ventures, as well as previous backers Horizons Ventures and SOSV.
The startup says its goal is to provide designers and brands with the tools and materials to create a sustainable future for people and the planet.
The company mainly focuses on sales and B2B relationships. Generally, fibers and yarns, including those from AlgiKnit, can be used in multiple applications and form factors like knitted and woven items, according to Callaghan. Uses for its materials could include clothing, interiors, furniture and automotive, Callaghan added.
“Sustainability is no longer a luxury; it’s become a requirement,” Callaghan said. “We hear this sentiment from brands across a wide range of industries, and it speaks to the scale of impact we need to achieve.”
With the latest funding, AlgiKnit will accelerate the scale of its production capabilities and bring its hardware to the world. Additionally, the startup plans to grow its team, currently at 20, and is actively recruiting for 10 new positions at its North Carolina headquarters. The funding will also help AlgiKnit invest in its manufacturing and R&D divisions.
“The textile industry is responsible for no less than 8% of global CO2 emissions – in addition to being massively polluting and water-intensive,” Collaborative Fund partner Sophie Bakalar said in a statement. “We are excited to lead AlgiKnit’s Series A and invest in technology that pushes the world towards a more sustainable future.”
In June, the company opened its new manufacturing facility in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina. AlgiKnit says it has sought to minimize its construction footprint by outfitting its 15,000 square foot extension with recycled materials and second-hand furniture.
“The build process was all about creating a dynamic and innovative work environment without compromising our commitment to the planet,” said AlgiKnit co-founder and COO Aleksandre Gosiewski, who led the company’s expansion. the company in North Carolina. “From using an existing space that met our specifications, to reusing and repurposing as much as possible, sustainability has always been a priority.”
“With the opening of our new facility in the Research Triangle region of North Carolina, we are focused on expanding our production capabilities, partnerships and team to meet global demand more quickly,” Callaghan said. “This is an important next step in scaling this technology and creating positive, tangible change for the planet.”
AlgiKnit has raised a total of $17.9 million to date.