• Japan’s Spiber Reels in $312M For Vegan Spider Silk Facility in USA, Plans IPO



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    Japanese biotech company Spiber has raised a huge $312 million in a funding round led by private equity firm Carlyle. Fund managers Fidelity and Baillie Gifford also contributed to the round.

    Spiber says it will use the funding to build a mass production facility in Iowa. The company also told Reuters it was planning an IPO, though this is likely still a few years away.

    Spiber develops its products by using fermentation to form plant-based polymers. These polymers can then be used to make vegan versions of fabrics such as spider silk, wool, cashmere, leather, fur, and even tortoiseshell. Unlike many animal-free fibres, Spiber’s products do not rely on crude oil and are biodegradable.

    spiber spider silk
    © spiber.jp

    Late last year, Spiber partnered with Japanese sports brand Goldwin to produce sweaters featuring its “Brewed Protein”. The two companies had previously collaborated to make parkas using vegan spider silk. Spiber has also worked with car company Lexus to produce ergonomic seats reinforced with the animal-free silk.

    Spiber is one of a very small number of “unicorns” — startups valued at over $1 billion — in Japan. Lead investor Carlyle said it would be allocating a significant proportion of its buyout fund to help finance these startups.

    “We believe we can help them grow their businesses, through M&As and overseas expansions, to an extent they are large enough to debut on the Tokyo bourse’s main board or overseas,” it told Reuters.

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