DES MOINES, IOWA (November 20, 2020) — Japan’s Spiber Inc, a biotech startup that produces lab-grown spider silk for use in clothing and other consumer products, announced today it will expand production of its plant-based protein to Clinton, its first US facility, through a partnership with Archer-Daniels-Midland (ADM). The expansion stems from a relationship between Spiber and Iowa that started with the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) years ago and solidified during Governor Kim Reynolds’ trade mission to Japan last year.
“Even during these unprecedented times, Iowa is a place of opportunity and economic vitality,” said Gov Reynolds. “I am proud to announce that Spiber is partnering with ADM to deploy state-of-the-art technology to Clinton County, bringing this concept to the United States for the first time. I look forward to building on this partnership as we work to broaden and diversify Iowa’s robust manufacturing sector.”
Spiber produces eco-friendly, lab-grown spider-silk for use in apparel, auto parts, and other products. For example, the company teamed up with The North Face to create a biodegradable jacket made with Spiber’s Brewed Protein polymers, which are produced through a plant-based fermentation process and loomed into fabric. The durable silk material has gained attention as a sustainable alternative to nylon and other petroleum-based materials.
In Iowa, Spiber will combine its technology with ADM’s infrastructure and expertise. The two companies have partnered to modify and expand equipment at ADM’s bioprocessing biorefinery in Clinton. An economic development incentive package approved by the IEDA board helped ensure the Clinton location would become the first US facility to produce Spiber’s protein polymers. The incentive package includes direct assistance in the amount of $1 million through the High Quality Jobs (HQJ) Program. The HQJ forgivable loan hinges on performance, and the company will receive the award when contract obligations have been met. This project represents a $101.4 million capital investment.
“This award will enable Spiber to accelerate its investment in the equipment and infrastructure used to convert corn-based dextrose into alternative proteins for use as next-generation biomaterials across many industries," said Daniel Meyer, president of Spiber America. "Iowa has a deep understanding of the positive impact potential of projects like ours and has created an environment that is conducive to success. We are thrilled to bring our production to Clinton.”
"We’re proud of our unmatched fermentation technology, and we’re excited to partner with Spiber to bring those capabilities together with our engineering expertise and long value-chain to create plant-based polymers that will go into everything from clothes to car seats,” said Ian Pinner, ADM’s chief strategy and innovation officer and president of the company’s Health & Wellness division. “We’re equally excited to bring this job-creating project to the Clinton region.”