AIR-INK: Recycling air pollution into inks
Recycling air pollution PM2.5 into industrial grade inks and pigments
Pitch us on your solution
According to WHO, 5-6 million people die every year as a result of exposure (direct and/or indirect) to air pollution.
However, most of these particles are extremely rich in carbon which can be utilised as a resource and sequestered as high-grade pigments. Graviky captures and sequesters the same carbon PM2.5 waste into high grade printing/ink materials. This also helps reduce the black ink and coatings industry’s dependence on carbon black, which is made by the deliberate burning of fossil fuels. e.g.. Printing fabrics with AIR-INK sequesters air pollution particulate, and replaces the need for conventional inks and pigments.
Also, This innovation opens a revenue stream for industrial units by creating a value for the pollution waste which conventionally required the industries to pay for disposing off the particulate waste.
Film your elevator pitch
What is the problem you are solving?
AIR-INK is the world's first commercial grade ink to be created from air-pollution. It addresses two problems related to air pollution and circular economy:
a) Firstly, it prevents the dumping of particulate matter and air pollutants into air and water;
b) Secondly, (hence) it replaces carbon black in the ink-making process, thereby aiding the printing industry in reducing its dependence on fossil fuels.
Further, with our research and collaboration efforts, we have demonstrated and created a significant potential for making commercially-viable circular economy products such as art material, sustainable fabric printing, advertising, offset and packaging printing.
(Mastercard agreement to print with AIR-INK, launched in Europe)
Who are you serving?
A World Bank report suggests that dirty air takes a huge economic toll on poor countries and costs the world over $5 trillion annually in lost work days and welfare costs. With our research and collaboration efforts, we have demonstrated and created a significant potential for making commercially-viable circular economy products such as art, sustainable fabric printing, advertising, offset and packaging printing. On the other side our impact is directly tied to create upcycling streams for polluting industries.
What is your solution?
Our solution is to
a) Recycle carbon rich PM2.5 pollution into high grade products
b) Provide sustainable and carbon-negative inks and paints to a variety of users/industries that may help them in reducing the carbon footprint of their final products, without compromising on the quality of the printing/paint.
This is something that is generally hard to find in early stage recycled/sustainability driven products.
Businesses/users across the world, specifically in developed economies are actively looking for adoption of more eco-friendly solutions in their manufacturing processes and personal usage. For example, the apparel and packaging industry is promoting an industry wide push for a move from solvent based inks to water based inks.
Additionally, citizens in different parts of the world are waking up to the questions of the impact of their lifestyle on climate and what they can achieve in their individual capacity to undo the harm.
Our proposition is to:
Sell AIR-INK products, including AIR-INK artist markers and fast fashion items like T-shirts, scarves through our online store as well as select retail stores such as MIT Coop (ie B2C segment).
To collaborate with large apparel and packaging companies for onboarding AIR-INK onto their supply chain ecosystem to reach every corner in the world (B2B segment).
Select only the most relevant.
Where is your solution team headquartered?Boston, MA, USA
Our solution's stage of development:
Select one of the below:
Describe what makes your solution innovative.
-Air pollution PM 2.5 which primarily consists of PM2.5 has never been looked as resource/raw material. We are able to not only capture it effectively, but the create economy around it. As an effect and result, we are also able to disrupt printing industry which is extremely carbon heavy.
- Using bottom up adoption for sustainable products, e.g. using artist communities to affect change.
For its innovation Graviky was chosen as a winner of Shell Make the Future Accelerator 2018 award, AIR-INK has been recognized for its innovation by TED Global, Edison Awards, Cannes Gold, London Design Museum,
D&AD Award for Packaging Design and selected in Foreign Policy Magazine’s Top 100 Global
Change Makers 2016.
Describe the core technology that your solution utilizes.
- Plasma based non-restrictive emission capture technology
- Process to convert PM2.5 carbon pollution to high grade inks and pigments
Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:
Why do you expect your solution to address the problem?
- We are already seeing adoption from large clients such as Heineken, Mastercard https://doconomy.com/black/ that have adopted AIR-INK in their manufacturing process. One other major clients will move their processes to ours this year.
-We also have a growing community of B2C adopters at https://www.instagram.com/air.ink/
- Several non-regulated industries which right now feel free to dump their pollution into the environment are signing up to us. https://www.flickr.com/photos/27011903@N05/44273629200/in/album-72157704101414235/ (Image from a field trip)
- Italian energy company ENEL has expressed interest in capturing pollution from their sites and giving it to us for AIR-INK production to offset their carbon footprint.
Select the key characteristics of the population your solution serves.
In which countries do you currently operate?
In which countries will you be operating within the next year?
How many people are you currently serving with your solution? How many will you be serving in one year? How about in five years?
AIR-INK: Inks made from recycling pollution
B2C adopters >3000+
B2B adopters> 2 large active clients
3 major polluting industries which send us their carbon rich PM pollution to recycle
More in this TED-Global Talk
What are your goals within the next year and within the next five years?
Over the last few months we have sold AIR-INK to large businesses such as Heineken, Mastercard and TED; to hundreds of individuals across 45 countries, several high-profile artists for their commissions at sustainability events such as European Environment Agency, Street Art festivals, Design Shows; and strategic stores such as Cooper Hewitt.
We receive more than 250-300 monthly enquires from variety of potential customers with Zero spend on marketing until now. Going forward we expect fashion, especially fast fashion, to be the key driver of our growth. We intend to enter into collaboration with large apparel companies for unique co-branded product launch that shall create a global endorsement for AIR-INK.
Simultaneously we are working on developing our own AIR-INK branded fashion products such as T-shirts and scarfs (already prototyped and tested with carbon negative impact). These would be launched on our online store and in collaboration with marquee stores such as MIT Coop etc.
We intend to enter into longterm collaboration with Mastercard (already launched) to create a circular economy ecosystem around credit card payments wherein we serve as technology partner.
We plan to launch an online store to e-retail AIR-INK carbon-negative fashion products and markers in US, India, Singapore and Western Europe. Our initial plans include converting the thousands of pending interests into sales on this platform, followed by using our collaborations with influencers (mentioned above) for creating more demand through social media channels
What are the barriers that currently exist for you to accomplish your goals for the next year and for the next five years?
- We need legal protection and advice and help to scale various geographies
- Finances to rapid scale our model(which is generating revenues right now)
How are you planning to overcome these barriers?
As mentioned above, we have taken a very conservative 10% of the black color market to be our market boundary with an estimated size of $ 1 billion upwards. However, the most immediate market to address will be that of sustainable fast fashion market which could realise $ 30-60 mio annually and more for AIR-INK.
Concerning our product adoption rate and market penetration, we feel our product is uniquely positioned to create its own market and user base. Keeping flexibility around pricing, we expect a significant surge in revenues.
However, the key to user adoption, not only sits with the tag of sustainability but also with the quality of AIR-INK. With quality and performance matching that of traditional inks, AIR-INK is easy to adopt in manufacturing processes without any changes in production processes, Accordingly, we anticipate rapid adoption of our products and fast market penetration. For entry into newer geographies we intend to keep option open for either collaborations with locally dominant brands of renowned fashion designers. The online store will offer various promotional options such as customized t-shirts, volume discounts, referral discounts to push up sales. Several influencers have approached us to adopt AIR-INK as climate change, sustainability are current topics of community engagement. Presently, we are interviewing candidates to serve as director of online store sales and promotions. We are also actively looking for a Business Development Director to lead our onground BD operations in US.
Select an option below:
Hybrid of for-profit and nonprofit
How many people work on your solution team?
Fulltime - 4
Contractual suppliers/manufacturers/labs- 12
For how many years have you been working on your solution?
Why are you and your team best-placed to deliver this solution?
Graviky Labs was founded in May 2016 as MIT spinoff. Anirudh Sharma had ideated our tech during his research at MIT Media Lab as a researcher in 2012-15. Anirudh serves as CEO of the company, responsible for new product development and overall BD.
Anirudh leads product development at Graviky. Anirudh has been on TED, MIT TR35, and Forbes 30 under 30. Anirudh’s interest lies in deep-tech science based social entrepreneurship- fusing cutting edge sensor, wearable, and man machine interface technology. In 2010 Anirudh co-founded and commercialized an assistive tech wearable startup. As MIT student, Anirudh worked on future fabrication/AR with transparent OLEDs. After returning from MIT, Anirudh co-led the non-profit consortium MIT Media Lab India Initiative
Nikhil will serve as CFO. He is currently leading the manufacturing, operations and supply chain for AIR-INKTM products along with finance functions and will continue to handle these functions. Nikhil brings 7 years of experience in finance and international taxation along with the experience of handling production and logistics for AIR-INKTM in last three years. He is a qualified Chartered Accountant and has worked with Ernst & Young India in the past.
Nitya is a trained creative writer with journalism background from the University of New South Wales, Australia who pursued her passion for writing as a journalist, in various newspapers and magazines, in the Middle East for several years. In 2015 she returned to India to work in the education sector at a top English national daily before catching the startup bug.
With what organizations are you currently partnering, if any? How are you working with them?
As elaborated above.
Mastercard - AIRINK Collaboration https://doconomy.com/black/
Heineken AIRINK Collaboration Case https://vimeo.com/196497265
Live Sale NYC https://shop.cooperhewitt.org/p/9786/Air-ink-2mm-marker
What is your business model?
Our value proposition is to provide sustainable and carbon-negative inks and paints to a variety of users that may help them in reducing the carbon footprint of their final products.
Businesses/users across the world, specifically in developed economies are actively looking for adoption of more eco-friendly solutions in their manufacturing processes and personal usage. E.g. , the apparel and packaging industry is promoting an industry wide push for a move from solvent based inks to water based inks.
Our proposition is to:
1.Sell AIR-INK products, including AIR-INKTM artist markers and fast fashion items like T-shirts, scarves through our online store as well as select retail stores such as MIT-Coop (ie B2C segment).
2.To collaborate with large apparel and packaging companies for onboarding AIR-INK onto their supply chain ecosystem to reach every corner in the world (B2B segment).
Furthermore, we are on our path to closing long term contracts to be executed in B2B segment, which would carry lower premium but will contribute significantly to the bottomline on account of larger volumes, and brand building. While we anticipate our current products to create substantial profits, we are also experimenting with other applications of AIR-INK in print, as well as other industries such as AIR-INK branded laser printing toners etc.
Currently solvent-based inks continue to dominate the markets despite a significant push for the adoption of water-based ink/paint solutions. Moreover, water-based inks also use carbon black, and carry a significant carbon footprint.
What is your path to financial sustainability?
We bootstrapped, put in our own seed capital, and generated ~ 1.1 m USD in revenues till now, and expect to multiply this number this year with a potential to 10x next year.
Our plan is to raise a Pre-series/Impact round by the end of Sept to scale major recycling operations in various geographies. We are a For-Benefit (BCORP) Delaware Corp.
Why are you applying to Solve?
We are an early stage company with demonstrated ability to sustain a socially relevant business with a value proposition to our customers/users . However, we are a small team with lean processes with Anirudh as our cofounder being the only person in the US.
We see a major scope of R&D on new waste streams and B2B opportunity in the MIT/Boston ecosystem. Through SOLVE we would like to get mentorship to build a good international sustainable business, fundraise and access related networks. Going further, we also would want experienced advisory board in the area of building environment themed business models.
Our founders also have an excellent experience in building deployable technologies and developing world experience and would be happy to contribute the same to other members of SOLVE community.
What types of connections and partnerships would be most catalytic for your solution?
With what organizations would you like to partner, and how would you like to partner with them?
-Universities across the US and their stores (We have noticed students and creatives to be our potential customers)
-Fast fashion large companies who are under pressure to be carbon negative. (We get a lot of demand for AIR-INK from large fashion/printing houses)
-Industries/polluters that generate a lot of pollution and carbon footprint
If you would like to apply for the GM Prize on Circular Economy, describe how you and your team will utilize the prize to advance your solution.
AIR-INK products are an outcome of a carbon-negative process applied on existing air pollution waste. The ways prize can help us:
- We will use the prize and the network to accelerator our interns that will help us do lean/speedy R&D to create new derivatives of AIR-INK and test markets.
- We will also fund field trips to various polluting sites in multiple geographies with our strong volunteer network. e.g. https://www.flickr.com/photos/27011903@N05/44273629200/in/album-72157704101414235/
e.g. a pilot we did in London in 2017- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3KF8Pq8W8o
- Anirudh Sharma Graviky Labs