DES MOINES — Japan’s Spiber Inc., a biotech startup that produces lab-grown spider silk for use in clothing and other consumer products, announced Friday it will expand production of its plant-based protein to Clinton, its first U.S. facility, through a partnership with Archer Daniels Midland.
The Iowa Economic Development Authority on Friday announced an incentive award for Spiber America LLC valued at $1 million, toward which the city of Clinton provided a 20% match.
“We are extremely excited for an amazing biotech firm like Spiber America LLC to have selected Clinton, Iowa for their first American facility. The City of Clinton welcomes Daniel Meyer and his team to our community, and we look forward to a strong partnership and much success for Spiber both in the U.S. and globally,” said Clinton Mayor Scott Maddasion.
The expansion stems from a relationship between Spiber and Iowa that started with the Iowa Economic Development Authority years ago and solidified during Governor Kim Reynolds’ trade mission to Japan last year, according to a press release from the Governor’s office.
“Even during these unprecedented times, Iowa is a place of opportunity and economic vitality,” said 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 U.S. facility to produce Spiber’s protein polymers.
The incentive package includes direct assistance in the amount of $1 million through the High Quality Jobs 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.”
“Clinton, Iowa is a prime location for biotech companies. We are thrilled to welcome Spiber America LLC to our business community. Surrounded by corn and soybeans, we respect our local farmers for growing high-quality feedstock that is attracting high-tech companies like Spiber America LLC,” said Erin M. Cole, president and CEO of the Clinton Regional Development Corp.