High Performance Protein Fibre materials.


The project HiPProFIB is based on the recent discovery of Endospore Appendages (ENAs), a novel class of protein nanofibrils with exceptional chemical and tensile durability. ENAs nanofibrils are easily produced by bacterial fermentation, and a broad range of functionalities can be introduced in ENAs through protein engineering. Furthermore, through wet spinning, ENAs can be used to produce a vast range of engineerable textile materials or “sporesilks”

These sporesilks form a ground breaking platform of advanced materials with excellent strength per weight/volume, similar to natural dragline spider silks, i.e. the benchmark protein fibre material both in mechanical properties, as well as in current and projected upscaling. The market for this benchmark material was valued at $75.07 Billion (2021) with a CAGR of 14.45%. Major players, with industrial scale production plants in building phase, are located in the US, Germany and Sweden (Kraig Biocraft Laboratories, Inc., AMSilk GmbH, Bolt Threads, Spiber, Inc., Seevix, Inspidere BV, Technology Holding LLC, Spintex Engineering Ltd., and Spiber Technologies SE).

Secondly, ENA materials can be readily functionalized by protein engineering to have properties that enable broader application, and allow superior tunability of the tensile properties of sporesilks. This greatly enhances the market potential of ENA materials and sporesilks. In this respect, VIB has shown that ENA subunits can be engineered to include metal binding sequences whilst maintaining their self-assembling and mechanical properties. This proof-of-principles allows development of ENA fibre materials in three additional application fields: 1) biologically conductive fibre materials; 2) production of ENA-based materials for clean-up of metal pollutants (As, Cd, Hg, etc.); 3) production of composite ENA materials with biomineralization properties based on proof-of-principle. 

Due to the early stage discovery at VIB, HiPProFibstarts from an excellent proof-of-principle and IP portfolio on the production, engineering and spinning potential of ENA nanofibrils into fibres and textiles (EP20189961 - national phase; EP22201184.3 - priority year). 

HiPProFib has the goal to prove the scalable production and spinning of sporesilk fiber materials with engineerable properties as an alternative material to todays’ synthetic textile materials. As such HiPProFib’s innovation objectives are focused on three main pillars: 


Companies such as AMSilk and Bolt Threads have shown that substitution of polyester and nylon with biodegradable silk can be done for, e.g. apparel, footwear, interior, automotive, etc., in collaboration with global brands such as Adidas and Stella McCartney. Given the market size for these two fiber materials (50 million metric tons of polyester and 5 million metric tons of nylon), a HiPProFib market share of only 5% could already imply an emission reduction of ± 2 Mta, assuming that the carbon footprint of fibre production is similar for all fibre types. Additionally, Since sporesilks are protein based, they are fermentable and have an inherent circular end-of-life, not resulting in the build-up non-degradable landfills or micropollutant release.

Project details

Project type
ESI Project
Research trajectory
Project status
Approved on
Project date
€2 715 356

Project Partners