About the project

What is BioColour?

Industrial use of dyes and pigments is currently based on synthetic solutions. Use of natural compounds as colourants has been minimal and even bio-based materials are often being coloured with synthetic dyes and pigments. With the advent of interesting new biocolourants, viable alternatives to synthetic colourants can be considered for industrial use.

BioColour research project develops new solutions for biocolourant production, characterization and application. Forest and food industry side streams are investigated as sources for dyes and pigments to foster eco-efficiency. This research also focuses to agricultural sources and microbes which produce colourants. Thus, the aim of the project is to create a colourful palette of yellows, reds, browns, greens, blues and blacks using bio-based dyes and pigments.

Economical solutions for bio-based dyes and pigments

BioColour project covers the whole production and supply chain of biocolourants. As a starting point, all dyes and pigments are tested for potential harmful qualities. In addition, novel ways of dyeing and printing different materials are being studied and their durability and colour longevity are tested under different conditions. Already existing and new biocolour businesses will be developed and fostered to advance sustainable and economically profitable practices.

Research data will be gathered to establish a biocolourant database, which will be the first of its kind in Finland and internationally. The database will contain information about supply chains of different biocolourants, but also their safety and quality. The database will serve the dye industry, decision-makers and researchers in Finland and internationally. It will also enable large scale utilisation of biocolourants in the future.

Future’s palette

In addition to dyes and pigments, BioColour project studies cultural, social and ethical aspects of biocolourants. A small variation in colour is typical for biocolourants and they may not be as bright as synthetically produced colours. This project aims to invoke discussion about ‘novel aesthetics’ with product experiments and art exhibitions – it provides an opportunity to question synthetic colourants’ position as the ‘normal’.

When new bio-based colourants are used in products it is fundamentally important to understand consumers preferences and expectations. Bio-based colourants can seem slightly faded or even lower quality to a person who is accustomed to for example textile products dyed with synthetic colourants. Surveys and co-creation workshops will be conducted in order to learn, how biocolourants could be seen as an appealing choice and a natural part of a sustainable lifestyle.


From knowledge to practice with industrial partners

BioColour project collaborates with many industrial partners. Biocolourants are developed and tested in practice with prototypes in order to meet the consumers’ needs as well as possible. Industrial partners are indigo producer Natural Indigo Finland, textile manufacturer Nanso, shoe producer Talla, textile dyeing company Värisävy, paint producer Uula, package manufacturers Sulapac and Marvaco and coating producer SSAB. The second financing period started August 1, 2022 with new partners joining the project: ChemistryLab Gadolin of science education network of Finnish universities LUMA Centre of Finland, largest manufacturer of knitted goods in Finland Orneule Oy, manufacturer of wool and linen textiles Lapuan Kankurit, organization supporting and promoting the growth of the Finnish textile and fashion companies Finnish Textile and Fashion, Swiss manufacturer of running shoes ON running, dye mill of weaving materials Lappajärven värjäämö Oy, design studio Studio Elina Helenius and educator in the field of natural resources Ammattiopisto Livia.

To make biocolourants known as a more sustainable alternative for wider audience, BioColour project produces educational packages together with consumers and educators. Collaboration will be done with textiles and crafts teachers’ union (Tekstiiliopettajaliitto) and home economic’s teachers union (Kotitalousopettajien liitto). The international partner is Society of Dyers and Colourists, which is an international organisation of dyers and colourists based in Great Britain. 

BioColour (Bio-based Dyes and Pigments for Colour Palette) is one of three consortiums funded by the Strategic Research Council in ‘Innovative Materials and Services to Promote Resource Wisdom and Sustainable Development (IMPRES)’ program for the years 2019–2025. Consortium is multidisciplinary representing scientists from the University of Helsinki, University of Eastern Finland, Aalto University, Häme University of Applied Sciences, Luke Natural Resources Institute Finland, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, North Carolina State University, USA and University of Campinas, Brazil. You can get to know the project better by watching a video recording from the BioColour Kick-Off event on the 11th November 2019.