Some big beauty brands are betting on a biology-focused startup. Founded by MIT graduate and beauty industry veteran Jasmina Aganovic, Arcaea uses DNA sequencing, biological engineering, and fermentation to create new beauty ingredients and products.

Aganovic’s vision has caught the eye of some big names in business and beauty. Last year Arcaea raised $78m Series A from Cascade Investment LLC, Viking Global, Chanel, Givaudan and Wittington Ventures.

Aganovic, who also founded Mother Dirt, says her goal is to “develop the cosmetic lab of the future” and create a “biology-driven beauty company.”

The company notes that today’s beauty products rely on ingredients extracted from petrochemicals, plants and animals. Over the past 200 years, these ingredients have shaped the entire supply chain, including formulation, claims and marketing, according to Arcaea. Large-scale innovation will be needed to address growing sustainability issues while facilitating broader definitions of beauty and new product experiences. Arcaea’s approach leverages the power of biology to not only create a non-extractive future for ingredients, but also to access previously unimagined product potential.

The name Arcaea comes from the root “old” and “show the way”. The Paradox recognizes the fundamental premise of Arcaea: to look to nature’s most powerful and primordial technology to engineer a more stable future. Arcaea is also a nod to Achaeabacteria, a primary kingdom of life that ironically was only recently discovered.

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