L’Oréal’s VC firm invests in biotech company Debut

2023/06/07 Innoverview Read

Dive Brief:

  • Continuing its pursuit of investing in innovative startups, BOLD, the venture capital arm of L’Oréal, led a $34 million Series B funding round for Debut, a beauty biotechnology startup. Fine Structure Ventures, Material Impact, GS Futures, and other investors participated in the round, according to a Thursday announcement

  • With BOLD and Debut’s strategic partnership, Debut will create various new ingredients and beauty and personal care products. The funding will enable the company to develop new ingredients and bring those products to market quickly.

  • Debut previously closed a Series A funding round led by Material Impact in August 2021 which raised $22.6 million to create an in-house brand incubator, expand into its 26,000-square-foot facility in San Diego and enhance its ingredient development model.

Dive Insight:

L’Oréal launched its BOLD venture capital fund, or Business Opportunities for L’Oréal Development, in December 2018 to take minority stakes in startups focused on marketing, research and innovation, digital, retail, communication, supply chain and packaging.

For L’Oréal, the investment in Debut was a chance to help sustainably create new beauty products, Barbara Lavernos, deputy chief executive officer in charge of research, innovation and technology at L’Oréal, said in a statement.

“Debut addresses one of the beauty world’s fundamental challenges: driving innovation without the resource-intensity and environmental impact that comes with relying on traditional manufacturing alone,” Lavernos said in a statement. “Cell-free biomanufacturing is not science fiction: it is here.”

In addition to Debut, L’Oréal invested in a Geno led-venture alongside Unilever and Kao Corporation earlier this year. Geno is a biotech platform for alternative sustainable materials and, as part of the deal, Geno will develop ingredients for a range of L’Oréal products. 

Such investments are steps toward L’Oréal’s larger efforts to design all of its formulas in an environmentally-conscious way, derive its ingredients from renewable plant-based sources and package its products using sustainable sources. 

Beyond pouring capital into sustainable startups, L’Oréal has also invested in digital-focused companies. In 2021, BOLD and LVMH Luxury Ventures invested an undisclosed sum into Replika Software, a social commerce company. Earlier this year, BOLD and other investors invested $4 million in Digital Villiage, a non-fungible token and metaverse company.

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