Technological watch

AMSilk and 21st.BIO announce partnership to accelerate the production of advanced materials made from spider silk-based proteins

AMSilk, a global leader in advanced materials made from spider silk-based proteins, and 21st.BIO, a leader in bioproduction, today announced that they have joined forces to accelerate the upscaling of AMSilk’s silk protein production to unprecedented levels. As part of the partnership, 21st.BIO has developed a new protein production strain created from highly specialized precision fermented microorganisms, ensuring that AMSilk can meet demand as it increases production from the laboratory to industrial scale.

The new strain ensures extracellular expression of silk proteins, enabling manufacturing at unprecedented productivity levels due to higher yield and greater efficiency, thereby reducing production costs.

Due to its unique combination of strength and flexibility, spider silk is the gold standard of bio industrial materials. AMSilk’s spider silk-based proteins are wholly biodegradable and biocompatible. Based on a renewable plant based feedstock, AMSilk fibers do not contain any substances of animal origin and come with a CO2 greenhouse gas emission reduction of up to 90% and more than 90% less land and water use compared to other protein fibers. Their high-performance qualities enable a wide range of applications in the textile, homecare, biomedical, and automobile industries.

The AMSilk x 21st.BIO genesisAs one of the world’s first industrial scale suppliers of advanced materials made from spider silk-based proteins, AMSilk has been redefining the performance fiber category since 2015, with applications in footwear and garments, and even interior components for automobiles. With a strong patent portfolio, AMSilk is leading the discovery of performance materials based on spider silk proteins.

21st.BIO benefits from the most advanced precision fermentation technology platform in the industry, with production strains that have been perfected for over 40 years and used in dozens of products on the market today. Working in close collaboration with AMSilk, 21st.BIO’s scientists have developed and optimized new production strains, fermentation and downstream processes to support upscaled production and significantly reduce unit costs. This will enable AMSilk to further broaden its portfolio into different types of fibers and proteins, with applications in the broader mid-market.

Gudrun Vogtentanz, Chief Scientific Officer, AMSilk said: “AMSilk’s protein-based products unlock the secrets of spider silk to create engineerable structures and solutions. Through 21st.BIO, we now have access to more efficient production strains, which are a game changer in terms of the efficiency and sustainability of our feedstock. Moving production quantities from kilos to tons brings AMSilk’s technology to the next level. This collaboration with 21st.BIO is key to accelerating time-to-market for AMSilk in the current scale-up phase.”

Ulrich Scherbel, Chief Executive Officer, AMSilk commented: “By partnering with 21st.BIO, we are succeeding where so many have struggled, delivering high performance precision fermentation at the right quality and cost parameters, and at a true industrial scale.” 2

Thomas Schmidt, Chief Executive Officer, 21st.BIO added: “We founded 21st.BIO to help companies cross over from interesting innovations at lab scale to reliable industrial biotech production in a timely and risk mitigated way. With spider silk proteins this has been challenging, but AMSilk is the first to be able to achieve that goal and bring spider silk proteins into large scale production. The world needs innovators and category shapers like AMSilk and our job is to help them succeed.”

Per Falholt, Chief Scientific Officer, 21st.BIO continued: “We are incredibly proud to support companies like AMSilk. Our partnership has already led to some key milestone achievements, such as the world’s first extracellular expression of spider silk protein, which facilitates processes and enables manufacturing at unprecedented productivity levels. We are confident that within a short time frame, we can achieve a significant reduction in production costs, enabling AMSilk to enter higher value markets.”

The potential for spider silk proteins produced using precision fermentation 

Global bioplastics production will more than triple until 2026, from around 2.4 million tons in 2021 to 7.5 million tons in 2026[1]. There is a rapidly growing need to adopt more environmental-friendly materials. AMSilk is helping to meet this need by using its outstanding proprietary technology platform for large volume proteins, designing and customizing material properties at a molecular level depending on the final application or properties required.

AMSilk has developed a wide range of use cases for its silk proteins, from developing the leading spinning process for silk protein fibers, to transforming proteins into silk beads, gels and solutions to unlock the power of their coating effects. AMSilk’s silk protein-based fibers set completely new standards within the apparel industry, offering unbelievably broad performance characteristics, ranging from ultra fineness to extreme strength, making them ideal as premium, low carbon material alternatives. AMSilk has also entered the performance yarn segment with technical yarns for the automotive industry – reflected in its collaboration with Mercedes Benz. AMSilk’s silk protein formulations bring exceptional filming properties to dishwashing and laundry care, providing outstanding performance benefits as a bioshield.


Publication date: 30/01/2024

Author: Marion Kupfer

Bio-based News


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 870292.