NEW HAVEN, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, Protein Evolution, Inc. (PEI) launched out of stealth, unveiling groundbreaking technology that transforms textile and mixed-plastic waste into an infinitely reusable resource, helping the chemicals industry transition to a lower-carbon, circular economy.
Leveraging recent breakthroughs in natural science and artificial intelligence, the company designs enzymes to break down end-of-life textile and plastic waste into the building blocks that make up new textile and plastic products. PEI’s proprietary process is the first of its kind that is built to scale, creating a cost-effective solution with immediate applications for the petrochemical industry, global consumer goods companies, textile manufacturers and others that are looking to significantly reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.
Protein Evolution’s initial funding, totaling more than $20 million, comes from notable entrepreneurs and industry leaders. The fundraising round was led by Collaborative Fund’s recently announced climate fund, Collab SOS, which is in partnership with iconic fashion designer and pioneer in sustainable materials Stella McCartney. Additional funding came from New Climate Ventures, Eldridge, Nextrans, and Good Friends, which is backed by the founders of Warby Parker, Allbirds and Harry’s.
“Despite significant and aggressive industry commitments toward sustainability, the current approach to plastic recycling is costly, ineffective and resource-intensive," said Connor Lynn, PEI Co-Founder and Chief Business Officer. "Right now, it's far cheaper for petrochemical companies to produce new 'virgin' plastics than it is to recycle existing materials, which is one of many reasons why used plastic is piling up in our oceans, landfills and incinerators. PEI has innovated a low-energy, cost-competitive process for upcycling finished plastics that's poised to meet both industry concerns and deliver massive environmental benefits. We're working hard to usher in a new era of plastics—one that's truly sustainable and circular."
“Corporations, and the actions they take today, play a significant role in charting the course of the climate future,” says Sophie Bakalar, a partner at Collaborative Fund and PEI Board Member. “The technology that Protein Evolution has developed allows the world’s largest consumer brands to meet sustainability commitments at scale, without compromising on cost or quality of materials. Our investment in PEI is an incredible opportunity to support an innovator who will soon become a leader in the global bioeconomy.”
Protein Evolution’s technology iteratively tests, evaluates and maps tens of millions of unique enzymes to identify the most effective way to recycle waste materials into reusable chemicals. This approach will help to decarbonize the chemicals industry and will carry significant impact in the emerging bioeconomy as companies, communities and governments are required to meet global sustainability goals in the years ahead.
“Nature has already produced a bacteria that can break down plastic for emission-free recycling, but it’s extremely slow. If we had a few million years to wait for evolution to run its course, we'd have something much more efficient," said Scott Stankey, PEI Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer. "Our technology condenses a million-year evolutionary process into a single day—helping us create an affordable, scalable and effective solution to revolutionize the plastic waste industry."
"As the bioeconomy continues to grow, and scaling biomanufacturing continues to become more crucial to support that growth, it's clear that the work Protein Evolution is doing will help lay the foundation for the future of synthetic biology," said Jonathan Rothberg, co-founder and Chairman of Protein Evolution. "At 4Catalyzer, we've created a number of world 'firsts' in the health technology industry, all of which aim to help heal the people we love. I am incredibly proud of the work the team at Protein Evolution has done to leverage 4Catalyzer's strengths in AI and synthetic biology to help heal the planet we all love and depend on."
The Protein Evolution team works in tandem with pre-eminent researchers who are pushing the boundaries of protein engineering and materials innovation. The team expects to launch its first commercial partnership by the end of 2022, addressing the needs of global consumer brands seeking to recycle and transform textiles and mixed-plastic waste.
About Protein Evolution
Protein Evolution aims to help the chemicals industry transition to a lower-carbon, circular economy. The company was founded in 2021 by Yale University alumni Connor Lynn and Scott Stankey, in partnership with Dr. Jonathan Rothberg, a world-renowned scientist, entrepreneur and National Medal of Technology and Innovation recipient. The company’s first product is an enzymatic process that enables textile and plastic waste to become an infinitely reusable resource. Based in New Haven, Conn., Protein Evolution has a partnership with ESPCI Paris and 4Catalyzer, a life sciences accelerator dedicated to making a global impact through bold innovations in medicine, engineering, machine learning, life sciences and biotech.
For more information, visit www.pei.bio.