Patagonia Eyes Synthetic Spider Silk For Fabric of the Future
"Spider silks could be used to make materials that are stronger than Kevlar, and more durable but at least as flexible as Lycra," says Jim Kim, a founder and General Partner with venture capital firm Formation 8. Formation 8 was the lead investor in the latest funding round of Bolt Threads, a startup that has developed technology to brew spider silk and other insect fibers and spin them into yarn, making it accessible to apparel makers.
Co-founded in 2009 by CEO Dan Widmaier, Chief Scientific Officer David Breslauer and Vice President of Operations Ethan Mirsky, Bolt Threads raised $50 million in a Series C round of venture funding, the company announced last week at the TechCrunch Disrupt NY event. Bolt also announced that it has signed a deal with outdoor brand Patagonia to begin developing and designing products with these new threads. “We’re not disclosing what we’re doing yet, we’re disclosing that we’re working with them,” Widmaier said.
Bolt already manufactures its Engineered Silk protein at scale, with outsourced manufacturing partners, says CEO Dan Widmaier, and plans to be moving into yarn manufacturing this summer. The processes that Bolt Threads utilizes are easier than natural silk manufacturing, which traditionally requires silkworms and a healthy portion of mulberry leaves. The company is expected to make its bio-fabricated silks available in mainstream products by 2018.