AlgiKnit is on a mission to offer more environmentally conscious materials for the heavily polluting fashion and textile industry. The startup develops materials from seaweeds such as Macrocystis pyrifera, one of the world’s most renewable and regenerative organisms, and makes yarns and fibers that do not rely on petroleum or toxic chemicals.
Aleks Gosiewskic† Aaron Nesser and Tessa Callaghan discovered that the materials used in the textile industry were incredibly harmful to the environment and eventually found it difficult to reconcile after working in different capacities in fashion. This raised the question: is there a way to design better products and more sustainable materials ourselves? And so the trio founded AlgiKnit in 2017.
Giant kelp does not rely on harmful fertilizers and pesticides to grow, requires no use of cropland or freshwater, and efficiently captures CO2 from the ocean,” AlgiKnit CEO and co-founder Tessa Callaghan told australiabusinessblog.com.
Today, AlgiKnit said 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 past backers Horizons Ventures and SOSV.
The startup says its goal is to provide designers and brands with the tools and materials needed to create a sustainable future for people and the planet.
The company is mainly focused on B2B sales and relationships. In general, fibers and yarns, including AlgiKnit’s, can be used for multiple applications and shapes, such as knit and woven goods, according to Callaghan. Uses of his materials can include clothing, interiors, furniture and cars, Callaghan added.
“Sustainability is no longer a luxury; it has become a requirement,” Callaghan said. “We hear this sentiment expressed by brands across a wide range of industries, and it speaks to the magnitude of the impact we need to achieve.”
With the latest funding, AlgiKnit will accelerate to scale up its manufacturing capabilities and bring its material to the world. In addition, the startup plans to expand its team of currently 20 people and is actively seeking 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 extremely polluting and water intensive,” Collaborative Fund partner Sophie Bakalar said in a statement. “We are excited to lead AlgiKnit’s Series A round and invest in a 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 wanted to minimize its construction footprint by equipping its 15,000-square-foot extension with upcycled materials and pre-owned furniture.
“The build process was based on creating a vibrant, innovative work environment without compromising our commitment to the planet,” said AlgiKnit co-founder and COO Aleksandre Gosiewski, who led the company’s expansion to North Carolina. “From utilizing an existing space that met our specifications to reusing and repurposing as much as possible, sustainability has always been paramount.”
“With the opening of our new facility in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina, we are focused on expanding our manufacturing capabilities, partnerships and team to meet global demand faster,” said Callaghan. “This is a huge next step to scale this technology and create positive, tangible change for the planet.”
AlgiKnit has raised a total of $17.9 million to date.