Concept

Spiber studies and improves upon the DNA designs of spiders to produce an artificial material that is elastic, strong, and much tougher than materials like steel and carbon fibre. This is all done without dependency on petroleum, unlike other synthetic fibres such as polyester and nylon. The DNA designs are incorporated into microorganisms, fed with sugar and grown to produce proteins that are turned into fibres through a special spinning process. All very clever.

How they’re disrupting

Most famously, Spiber have prototyped a parka with The North Face using their artificial spider silk “QMONOS” for the outer fabric and embroidery. They also have a tie-up with Kojima Industries Corp., which supplies automotive parts to Toyota. The view is that artificial spider silk will make cars lighter, more durable and more resistant to shocks.

Disruption potential

Fundamental shift in global materials manufacturing.

Investments and future

Spiber have secured circa $130 million to date; investments coming from various government grants, the apparel company Goldwin and the auto-parts maker Kojima Industries Corp. With 2015 revenues of $2.6m and over 100 full-time employees, their technology has potential applications across a range of industries – apparel, medicine and automotive to name a few. The company has cited a future stock market listing as “one dominant tool” to raise the necessary funds to advance its research.