Innovation @ E2Expo

Renewable textile dyes using enzymes and microorganisms

Updated : December 2020


  • Entrepreneurs
  • Financial investors
  • Marketing or sales professionals
  • Production professionals
  • Researchers or innovators
  • Textile chemicals professionals
  • Textile industry sustainability professionals

Microbial fermentation for renewable dyes

Pili uses enzymes and microorganisms to transform sugar into vibrant, fully renewable pigments for textiles through natural processes. Pili aims to replace chemical processes with microbial fermentation. Fermentation allows micro-organisms to break down renewable plant-based matter like sugar or wood, to reshape it into dyes. This process has a reduced energy balance since the enzymes in these microorganisms work at room temperature, without toxic solvents, and using far less water and energy than petrochemical processes. It uses five times less water and works at room temperature, where industrial dyes often reach over 300°C.

Read more: Pili


Microbial dyes

Biotech textile dyes

Microbial Fermentation

Biofabrication process

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  1. Pili




| France

Year Established


Highlights and sustainability benefits

When compared to one kilogram of petrochemical dye, one kilogram of Pili dye saves 100kg of crude oil and 10kg of toxic chemicals.


 BPI France contributed €1.6 million ($1.9M) via the Global Innovation Challenge in 2018 to support the development of Pili's dyes

About the Work

Once an effective enzyme cascade is designed, large-scale production can begin. They produce their dyes by integrating the genes for each enzyme into bacteria or other microorganisms, our cell factories. These bacteria are grown in water-based bioreactors, using sugar as their main food source. This process requires no fossil fuels and no toxic inputs, and produces no harmful byproducts, making their bacterial biofactories both highly efficient and non-polluting. The company is currently developing its initial product line and refining the process to work at industrial scale.

About the Innovator

Founded in 2015 in Paris at La Paillasse, PILI is a Rebel Bio alumni (SOSV) and a member of the Toulouse White Biotechnology (TWB) consortium. Now located in France at Le Cnam (Paris) and TWB (Toulouse), Pili is the world’s leading company in the production of biotech dyes and pigments using proprietary fermentation technology. The company is co-founded by Jérémie Blache, Guillaume Boissonnat, Marie-Sarah Adenis, and Thomas Landrain.

Discussion topics

Potential of enzymes and microbes for textile dyes production


Textile dyes from natural, renewable resources


Challenges in scaling of microbial dye production processes


Economics of bio-based (microbial and enzyme based) dyes and pigments



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