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SBIR-STTR-Success: Bolt Threads
Lush neck ties manufactured from the finest spider silk. Durable leather constructed from mushrooms. Bolt Threads has made a worldwide name for itself by looking no further than nature to solve today’s sustainability problems fueled by fashion. In today’s market, more than 60 percent of textiles are made using polyester and other petroleum-derived fibers, which is wreaking havoc on the planet.
Less than ten years ago, Bolt threads was just a three-person team based in San Francisco. The company won a small SBIR grant from the National Science Foundation to expand upon their idea for silk threads made from spiders. Fast forward to today, and Bolt Threads’ Microsilk™ is a hugely popular alternative to basic silk, and it exhibits remarkable properties including high tensile strength, elasticity, durability and softness.
And yes, there is science behind the innovation. The team at Bolt Threads studied silk proteins found in nature and determined what gave them these properties. They then developed these proteins by putting genes into yeast and scaled the production through fermentation. The silk protein is spun into fibers and those fibers are used to make fabrics and garments, right in California.
It wasn’t long before famed designer Stella McCartney caught on. She and Bolt Threads recently announced a partnership focused on sustainable fashion and luxury materials development. The gold dress pictured above was featured in the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition titled: Items: Is Fashion Modern?