Company founded on Penn State invention named winner of microfiber challenge


By Sarah Small

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Tandem Repeat Technologies, a company spawned from Penn State research on a composite fiber from the proteins in squid ring teeth, was named as one of  winners of the Microfiber Innovation Challenge. Each of the winning companies will receive $150,000.  

The Microfiber Innovation Challenge was held by Conservation X Labs, a “technology and innovation company that creates solutions to stop the extinction crisis,” according to their website. Each team submitted an alternative material they developed, which was then judged on how it might limit pollution from the microfibers found in textiles. The Flotilla Foundation and the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations sponsored the event.  

Tandem Repeat Technologies oversees the development of the sustainable fiber material called Squitex. It was developed by Melik Demirel, the Lloyd and Dorothy Foehr Huck Chair in Biomimetic Materials, the director of the Center for Research on Advanced Fiber Technologies and professor of engineering science and mechanics, and his students over the past decade. This technology is licensed by Tandem Repeat, Inc.  

Demirel and his team’s work also was featured in a documentary series, Evolve: The Future is Animal, which aired in January. The series was produced for CuriosityStream, a nonfiction platform launched in 2015 by John Hendricks, the founder of the Discovery Channel.  


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