Colorifix was founded by two synthetic biologists who were developing biological sensors to monitor heavy metal contamination in drinking water in rural Nepal.
While testing these sensors in Kathmandu, Jim and Orr began to learn about the enormous impact of the dyeing industry on water and human health; and realised that, rather than simply monitoring the problem, they had the tools to solve it. With some creativity and a bit of luck, Colorifix was founded in 2016.
They haven't done it alone though. Participation in the Fashion for Good accelerator as well as the support of investor partners SAGANA, Cambridge Enterprise, Primera Impact and H&M CO:LAB was a huge boost. Colorifix is also a proud winner of the Andam Innovation Prize and Biostart.
We adopt circularity whenever possible to challenge the status quo and create continuous positive impact for all our stakeholders.
We create trust through respectful and transparent communication even when the message is hard.
We want to create a dynamic equilibrium where we work in a way that shows respect for each other and for the environment.
We do not want to displace people whose livelihoods depend on this industry. As such, our model is drop- in to cause the minimum amount of social disruption possible whilst reducing the environmental footprint as much as we can.
We respect the value of an interdisciplinary approach to work that requires a different type of flexibility and an ability to include a diverse range of factors and viewpoints that are outside one’s direct field of knowledge.
Our investors and partners
EU Horizon 2020 EIC-SMEInstrument Grant-873840 (Jan 2020 to June 2022)
Statement on Genetic Modification
We appreciate that not everyone is familiar with synthetic biology or genetic modification (GM) and some may fear the impact of its applications on the environment and human health. At Colorifix, nature and people are at the core of what we do; and we believe that when managed appropriately, GM technology has enormous potential to advance both environmental and human health without compromising safety.
Humans have been altering the genomes of plants and animals for hundreds of years using traditional breeding techniques. Selecting for specific, desired traits has resulted in a variety of organisms ranging from sweet corn to domesticated cats and dogs. In recent decades, however, advances in the field of genetic engineering have allowed for precise control over the genetic changes introduced into an organism. The systematic application of these genetic engineering tools and methods— or synthetic biology— is the driving force behind our technology.
Colorifix relies on a GM process to make a non-GM product. This is an important distinction from many GM applications such as cotton or food where the modified organism is the product. In our case, we genetically engineer a microorganism to produce a naturally-occurring pigment and leverage a basic biological process to transfer that colour onto textiles. In the final stage of dyeing, we eliminate all live microorganisms through a validated inactivation step, resulting in a sterile, non-GM product.
Our work with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are Class 1 activities, considered by the European Commission to be of zero or negligible risk. GMOs have been used industrially for decades in the production of insulin, food dyes, and other textile enzymes the industry is already familiar with. We work with well-studied microorganisms that have been domesticated by scientists over the last century and do not possess key functions required to compete in the outside world. This means that even in a worst case scenario (accidental or even malicious release), our GMOs pose negligible risk to human health or the natural environment.
As scientists, environmentalists, and global citizens, we at Colorifix respect nature and are inspired by her own blueprints and tools to solve problems mankind has created. We are proud of our work, committed to transparency around our technology and hope you share our vision for the future of the textile industry and beyond.