Is the Color Green Truly Green?

Blue Bear Ventures
4 min readOct 19, 2022

Why we invested in Cypris Materials? A company that is developing a new generation of sustainable color while simplifying manufacturing, application, and formulation.

Today, we are delighted to welcome to our portfolio Cypris Materials, an advanced materials company that’s creating a more sustainable future with its structural color coating technology for various industrial applications. Built on over a decade of research at Caltech and Colorado State University, Cypris is already helping industries ranging from automotive to packaged goods decarbonize and transition away from the use of toxic additives found in paints, pigments, and dyes. We are delighted to join Better Ventures, Kdt Ventures and Safar Partners in the company’s $3.1M Seed round.

We were drawn to Cypris because of the simplicity and scalability of their solution to impact the $50B+ colorants industry, combined with the depth of their structural coating technology. The team’s relentless focus on customer development has helped them identify product market fit at this early stage, and we are excited to support Cypris in their journey to lead the next generation of sustainable colorants and coatings.

The Harsh Reality of Colorants and Dye Manufacturing

Color permeates all aspects of our lives. It shapes how we perceive the world, and it’s an essential part of our cultural identity. The way people perceive color is also important when it comes to marketing and branding. Highly utilized in the retail industry, color captures people’s attention and enables the human mind to interpret information quickly and make subconscious decisions to influence a purchase.

However conventional pigments and dye manufacturing use dangerous heavy metals which can increase the risk of various types of cancer, acute illnesses and skin problems. Common heavy metals used to create color pigments include lead, nickel, chromium, cadmium and copper, while the principal air pollutants in dye manufacturing are volatile organic compounds, nitrogen oxides, hydrogen chloride, and sulfur oxides. Ironically the color Green has a long toxic history. While these compounds may help to give our favorite outfits and products a unique color, their impact on the environment and the people making them is disastrous. In addition, most of our clothes today are dyed synthetically, a process requiring incredible amounts of water. In order to dye 1 tonne of fabric, 200 tonnes of water is required.

Toxic Dyes in the Textile Industry

Blue Bear Ventures x Cypris Materials

Cypris is giving the $50B+ colorants and coatings industry a much-needed make-over through the introduction of a new generation of sustainable color that broadens the color spectrum while simplifying manufacturing, application and formulation. Based on structural coloring, Cypris has developed ways to reflect specific wavelengths of light from the rainbow, similar to the nanostructure of butterfly wings.

In addition to its sustainable alternative to toxic pigments, dyes and metals, what drew us to Cypris’ technology was its bespoke approach to coloring. This translates into a wider gamut of tuneable colors, and ultimately assists brands launch highly distinguished products. Their structural color can be applied in a way that it doesn’t flop (change color) or drop off (lose color intensity) enabling a wide range of applications. And most importantly, Cypris’ solution acts as a “drop-in” replacement within the customer formulation process and can be produced at scale using established manufacturing practices.

The startup is already working with more than a dozen customers ready to embrace structural coloring in their production processes. Cypris has already demonstrated product market fit with a range of manufacturing industries including cosmetics, automotive, printed goods and high-end luxury. Additionally, they are already developing their next-generation products such as heat-reflecting window coatings to selectively reflect infrared light and reduce building cooling needs.

Grounded on a decade of research and IP from Caltech and Colorado State University, the company has been able to leverage sizable non-dilutive funding from notable US government agencies including ARPA-E, NSF and EPA. Cypris Materials began in 2019 in Berkeley, CA after both co-founders Dr. Ryan Pearson and Dr. Matthew Ryan (Forbes 30 under 30) were awarded Activate Fellowships to join the Cyclotron Road program at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Cypris’ high chroma, tuneability, accessible formulation and scalable product make them a leader and among the most exciting structural color platforms. We are thrilled to join the founding team on its mission to pioneer next-gen sustainable materials.

We look forward to helping Cypris build a category creating product in a toxic-free colorant production process.

The Cypris Materials team

Blue Bear Ventures supports mission-driven scientist founders bringing technology solutions to global industries at the forefront of transition. We execute for change by positioning ourselves in companies with clear product market fit and aim to accelerate the journey to first revenue.



Blue Bear Ventures

BBV engages founders working on the frontiers of science & technology with the ambition to solve the most pressing challenges we face in the world today.