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Japan's biotech firm Spiber raises JPY 34.4 Billion in funding

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2021-09-14 12:24:50 – Japan

Spiber, a Japanese biomanufacturing startup and the developer of Brewed Protein materials, has secured a capital investment of ¥24.4 billion JPY through an equity investment round that includes top global investors like Carlyle and existing shareholders like Cool Japan Fund Inc. 

Spiber has simultaneously approved an additional JPY 10 billion capital raise from Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities Co. Ltd., bringing the total capital raised to JPY 34.4 billion.

Kazuhiro Yamada, Managing Director and Head of Carlyle Japan, said that they look forward to working closely with Spiber as it prepares for an IPO and supporting the firm as it strives to become one of the world's premier biotech companies.

Brewed Protein materials are made from plant-derived biomass using a proprietary fermentation process and can be processed into a range of forms, with examples ranging from delicate filament fibers with a silky sheen to spun yarns with qualities like cashmere-like softness and thermal and moisture-wicking properties of wool.

Spiber’s in-house technology enables the production of animal-free fur and leather substitutes, and Brewed Proteins can be processed into resins that resemble tortoiseshell or animal horn. They are highly flexible, with applications ranging from medicinal applications to lightweight composite materials.

Brewed Protein materials have a lower impact on marine environments than standard plastic materials since they are not reliant on petrochemicals as a primary feedstock and do not generate or break down into environmentally persistent microplastics. The unique microbial fermentation process used has a lot of potential for avoiding the substantial greenhouse gas emissions often associated with commonly-used animal fibers.

The North Face has pioneered prototype goods based on Brewed Protein with the Moon Parka and the Vision Quest blended wool sweater for Japan's Goldwyn.

Spiber is now focused on the transition to mass manufacturing after more than 15 years of research and development. Its Thailand factory, which is now under construction, is set to open later this year with an annual capacity of several hundred tonnes per year.

Spiber America, a subsidiary of ADM, will combine its technology with ADM's substantial knowledge of large-scale fermentation technologies, engineering, operations, and agricultural supply chain in Iowa. At ADM's bioprocessing biorefinery in Clinton, the two companies have begun to modify and expand equipment.

ADM will manufacture the Brewed Protein polymers in the United States, using plant-based dextrose as a feedstock, and then send them to Spiber's downstream facilities, where they will be processed into a range of materials, chiefly fibers, for usage in a variety of applications.

Carlyle has made a large investment in Spiber as a new investor, marking the firm's first non-buyout growth investment in Japan. To speed its future growth, Spiber will be able to fully leverage Carlyle's global industry knowledge, sustainability expertise, and network with premium brands as well as the textile and material industries. Sustainability-focused startups like Jeanologia and Beautycounter, as well as world-leading garment labels like Moncler and Golden Goose, have been among Carlyle's recent investments.

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