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Kraig Biocraft, Warwick Mills To Codevelop Spider-silk-based Textiles

Kraig Biocraft Laboratories Inc., Lansing, Mich. — developer of Monster Silk™ recombinant spider silk technology — and New Ipswich, N.H.-based advanced technical textiles and protective materials developer and manufacturer Warwick Mills Inc. have signed a collaborative development agreement under which the two companies will codevelop and commercialize Monster Silk-based advanced textile products.

The initial focus of the partnership will be to weave and test Monster Silk-based textiles for near-term applications. Kraig and Warwick will jointly own any product-related intellectual property that results from the collaboration.

"This collaborative undertaking represents a huge step forward in our commercialization efforts," said Kim Thompson, CEO and founder, Kraig Biocraft. "The pairing of Kraig's spider silk technology with Warwick's world-class technical textiles applications engineering and weaving abilities is a bold move, which we believe will enhance and accelerate the penetration of spider silk into technical textile markets."

Monster Silk is produced by transgenic silkworms whose genetic makeup includes a combination of certain spider silk proteins with silkworm proteins. The silk produced by these silkworms contains only a small percentage of spider silk protein, but it exhibits significantly increased strength and elasticity when compared to conventional silk.

Kraig has set up a pilot spider silk production operation overseas in a country that offers a trained workforce for the production of silk. "We've reached the point where we're ready to ramp up to commercial-scale production," Thompson said. "Now, we're raising the silkworms primarily to multiply instead of harvesting them. Each pair of silkworms produces 300 to 500 eggs. We get a new generation roughly every 50 days, so we can go from 100,000 to many millions of silkworms in just a few months and have the capacity to begin pumping material to Warwick and ultimately to other partners."

Thompson said that in addition to its technical expertise to work with advanced materials, Warwick's capability to use small quantities of material in its product development efforts has enabled Kraig to enter now into a binding agreement without the need to provide the relatively large material quantities required by many other potential partners to initiate development. "Warwick presents a more immediate opportunity for us," he noted. "We aren't interested in just knitting or weaving something to be producing something. We're interested in working with someone who could take the material and engineer something beautiful, and that's where we are with Warwick."

Warwick is known for its production of ballistic, puncture-resistant and high-tensile materials for defense, aerospace, safety and law enforcement applications. "The collaboration will look at those applications, but we are hopeful it will also open up other opportunities beyond protective materials," Thompson said.

"The future of textiles will continue to be driven by innovation and we believe that our textile engineering capabilities and Kraig's fibers can change the game in some important applications," said Warwick President Charles Howland. "These technologies could potentially result in higher performance textiles, which would enable very advanced safety and military equipment. This collaborative agreement is a big step forward in the development of exciting new textiles with potential applications for the technical textiles and protective textiles marketplace."

Kraig also has signed a memorandum of understanding with Spring City, Tenn.-based SSM Industries Inc. — a knitter and weaver of personal protection fabrics — and ultimately expects to move forward with some development initiatives with SSM as well.

October 22, 2013