Hi-tech packaging deal

Fedrigoni buys SharpEnd stake

Worth: I'm very proud to have built something Fedrigoni is backing globally
Worth: I'm very proud to have built something Fedrigoni is backing globally

Fedrigoni has bought a minority stake in London specialist design agency SharpEnd / io.tt.

The acquisition, made through a capital increase, is part of Fedrigoni’s venture capital programme of investing in promising paper and packaging start-ups, with the deal itself leaving open a path for Fedrigoni to buy the firm outright.

SharpEnd, founded in 2015, specialises in designing digitally connective packaging, with products including QR-scannable packaging, NFC (touchless) information transfer to smartphones, and augmented reality projects. 

The firm claims to be the first design agency in the world fully dedicated to the Internet of Things (IoT), a term for a network of digitally interactive objects.

In 2019, SharpEnd launched its software as a service (SaaS) platform, io.tt, which now manages billions of potential interactions for clients across packaging and retail applications for global brands, in drinks, beauty, wellness and fast-moving consumer goods sectors.

“The world of connected products is increasingly strategic for us,” said Marco Nespolo, Fedrigoni Group CEO.

The SharpEnd investment, he added, was “highly complementary and synergic” with Fedrigoni’s 2022 acquisition of Tageos, a French UHF and NFC inlay manufacturer, and the ex-Arjowiggins Grenoble Research and Development Center, which joined the group in 2023.

Together, the purchases have added a significant level of expertise to Fedrigoni’s existing smart labels and papers portfolio.

Nespolo continued: “SharpEnd provides solutions and consulting services to support major brands, particularly in the luxury and FMCG sectors, in the creation of smart products and packaging, which are essential for product safety, authenticity and traceability – but also to provide end users with increasingly engaging shopping experiences.”

Cameron Worth, founder and CEO of SharpEnd, said the two companies were “a perfect match”.

“[The partnership] strengthens our position in the global market to develop new products and high-performing integrated solutions. The potential synergies with the group's two businesses of specialty papers and premium labels are countless, and Fedrigoni's network and global footprint in more than 130 countries will be a strong growth accelerator for us.”

Speaking to Printweek, Worth added: “As a founder, I’m very proud to have built something that Fedrigoni is backing to succeed globally. It’s a wonderful feeling. 

“This also forces me to complete my Italian language course which I’ve been sitting on for a while.”

SharpEnd currently employs 30 full-time staff, and is planning to double this number in 2024.