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Image: 5924 Credit Capucine Vanbuis


As the world becomes increasingly conscious of its impact on the environment, many companies are seeking out sustainable alternatives to traditional manufacturing practices. In the textile industry, one such alternative is microbial dyeing, a process that uses bacteria to create natural dyes that are not only eco-friendly but also offer a host of other benefits. This is where Vienna Textile Lab (VTL) comes in, a company that is leading the way in sustainable dyeing practices. 


Introducing VTL 

VTL was founded by Karin Fleck, a Doctor in Applied Chemistry and former international manager in the energy sector. After realizing the limitations of building products on a single resource, she turned her attention to the textile industry, which is heavily reliant on synthetic dyes made from petroleum. Her goal was to develop a viable alternative to synthetic dyes that was not only eco-friendly but also economically feasible. 


VTL's Sustainable Solution 

The solution VTL came up with was microbial dyeing. The company develops and produces natural dyes using bacteria, which are then used to dye textiles. This process allows the textile industry to use biobased materials, which are derived from renewable resources and have a lower environmental impact. By using VTL's dyes, companies can produce circular products that are sustainable and environmentally friendly. 


Progress and Achievements 

VTL was founded in early 2017 and has come a long way since then. The company has received 1.6 million euros in funding from the Austrian government and European organizations, which has enabled it to expand its operations and develop new products. VTL has also established partnerships with key clients in the textile and fashion industries and has been featured in fairs and events around the world. 


One of the company's biggest achievements to date has been working with the second-largest global luxury company, which was a significant step towards commercialization. VTL has also received awards for its work, including the Austrian Entrepreneur Award for female startups and the Tech Tour prize for one of the best presentations at Tech Tour Food Bioeconomy & Agritech 2022 and Tech Tour Sustainability 2022. 



Future Impact 

As VTL continues to develop new biosynthetic pathways to products, it is poised to make a significant impact not just on the textile industry but also on other sectors that rely on synthetic dyes. By providing sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives, the company is contributing to reducing the negative impact of synthetic dye chemistry on the environment, particularly in terms of CO2 footprint and water pollution. 



Current Challenges 

Like many companies, VTL has faced challenges due to the current situation, including rising utility prices and unclear supply chain issues in China. To mitigate these challenges, the company is thinking of other premium applications for its products and engaging in risk management and fostering strong relationships with key clients. 


Benefits of Tech Tour 

Tech Tour has been instrumental in helping VTL to engage with investors in a targeted and concentrated manner and to exchange experiences with other peers in the industry. The dedicated staff and unique environment of Tech Tour events have been critical in helping VTL to grow and succeed. 


Vienna Textile Lab is a shining example of a company that is committed to sustainable practices and is making a significant impact in the textile industry. By developing natural dyes that are eco-friendly and economically feasible, VTL is helping to reduce the negative impact of synthetic dye chemistry on the environment. As the company continues to expand and develop new products, it is poised to make an even greater impact in the future.