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Biotech Start-Up Shellworks Secures $6.2 Million in Seed Funding

May 30, 2022
May 30, 2022

London-based biotech start-up Shellworks raised $6.2 million to reimagine the cosmetics packaging industry and scale its plastic-free compostable solutions.

WHO: Shellworks was founded in 2019 by Insiya Jafferjee and Amir Afshar, who met working on their Masters at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College of London. They've combined their manufacturing and design experience to create products with a positive impact on the world—starting with bio-based and compostable plastic. Initially beginning with polymers derived from shellfish waste, they pivoted in early 2020 to using vegan microbially derived material to create sustainable petroleum-free packaging, with no compromise on performance, aesthetics, or cost.

The team formulates its new material, Vivomer, using bacterially derived components grown using a fermentation process. Once a product using Shellworks' Vivomer packaging is finished, the packaging can either be reused or placed in a personal compost or industrial compost bin, where it is broken down enzymatically. On average, it takes around a year for a product to break down, in contrast to petroleum-based plastics, which can take up to 500 years to decompose.

WHY: Shellworks will use the funding to double its team, including hiring for its operational, science, and product teams, as well as investing in tech innovation and expanding its platform of materials.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: Insiya Jafferjee, co-founder and CEO at Shellworks, said: "Our vision is to break the reliance on the petroleum industry by building a new standard of packaging that is performant, cost-competitive and truly sustainable. We work at the intersection of two ecosystems, the natural and the commercial, and we're constantly trying to play a meaningful, connected and consistent role in both. The beauty industry creates 120 billion units of plastic packaging annually and we're committed to providing a scalable solution to tackle this and we're incredibly grateful that we've identified a group of investors who share this vision."

Amir Afshar, co-founder and CPO at Shellworks, said: "We've spent the last two years really refining our processes and material formulations to ensure that our products are not only sustainable but scalable. By working collaboratively with nature we want to show how promising the future of materials can be and are looking forward to launching our new range of products that both look and feel great later this year. At its core, we're highlighting that the sustainable choice doesn't have to mean compromise."

Ferdi Sigona, partner at LocalGlobe, said: "We're delighted to be backing Insiya, Amir and the rest of the Shellworks team, as they bring the science, creativity and lightning speed we're used to in tech environments to the world of materials and packaging. It's been amazing to hear their customers rave about the products they've already created, and all of us at LocalGlobe are looking forward to seeing them build an iconic materials house to end plastic waste."


  • Shellworks raised $6.2 million in seed funding led by LocalGlobe, with participation by Founder Collective, True Global, BoxGroup, Divergent Capital, and angels including Deepali Nangia (Alma Angels founder), Julien Callede (Made co-founder), Bryan Meehan (former Blue Bottle Coffee CEO), and Grant Aarons (FabricNano co-founder and CEO). 
  • To date Shellworks has worked with beauty brands Bybi and Liha, as well as fragrance company Sana Jardin.

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