# Tandem Repeat: Revolutionizing the Fabric Industry with Squitex Technology
The Problem of Microfiber Pollution
In recent years, the issue of microfiber pollution in our oceans has become a significant challenge for humanity. Every year, millions of tons of plastic enter our oceans, and a majority of clothing is made from plastic-based materials. When these synthetic fabrics are washed, they release tiny plastic fragments called microfibers, which are the most prevalent type of microplastic found in the environment. In fact, an Ocean Wise Study revealed that the average household in the U.S. and Canada releases 533 million microfibers to wastewater treatment plants each year, resulting in over 878 tons of microfibers being released into the environment.
## Tandem Repeat: Challenging Current Practices
Founded in 2017 by Dr. Gozde Senel Ayaz, Dr. Benjamin Allen, and Dr. Melik Demirel, Tandem Repeat is a research lab that is revolutionizing the fabric industry. Their goal is to offer unparalleled strength, durability, and sustainability through their innovative Squitex technology. By challenging current practices, Tandem Repeat is providing a sustainable, non-polluting alternative to petroleum and animal-based fibers.
## The Journey to Squid Proteins
In their quest to find an alternative to plastics that end up in our oceans, the founders of Tandem Repeat turned to squid proteins. With their unique manufacturing process, they began developing Squitex, a bioengineered animal fiber. The potential of this innovation can be witnessed in a detailed video available [here](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Gwvsc5NKVM).
## Introducing the Squitex Garment
Tandem Repeat recently unveiled their first fashion garment, the Squitex. This bioengineered animal fiber is made through the process of fermentation and is available in a maroon color reminiscent of Mark Rothko’s famous “Red on Maroon” painting. Squitex is a protein-based fiber designed using AI and manufactured through biomanufacturing techniques. The company has garnered recognition from BioMADE, a biomanufacturing initiative supported by the Biden administration, as well as winning the Microfiber Innovation Challenge. Dr. Melik Demirel, co-founder of Tandem Repeat, explains that Squitex minimizes microfiber pollution by leveraging nature’s genetic codes. The team combines biomanufacturing and artificial intelligence to fine-tune the physical properties of Squitex, including predicting protein sequences and structures, and designing garments.
## Recognition and Funding
Tandem Repeat has received numerous awards and funding for their groundbreaking work. They won the Microplastic Challenge Award, which granted them a $150,000 prize to further advance their product innovation. As a climate tech startup, the company is dedicated to utilizing sustainable and ethical manufacturing to create all-natural, high-performance Squitex fibers. Their AI-designed approach enhances the performance of Squitex by predicting the properties of proteins that deliver superior comfort and performance. Tandem Repeat also aims to produce Squitex using plant-based molecular farming techniques, aiming to reduce costs and increase output volume. They have a portfolio of issued and pending patents covering designer Squid Ring Teeth (SRT) genes, associated products, and methods.
## Challenges and Perspective
As Tandem Repeat strives to increase its market share and improve the positioning of Squitex fibers, scaling up production from kilograms to tons becomes crucial. This is necessary to support the company’s ambitions of selling to major fashion brands that have already shown interest by signing letters of intent. At the emergence stage, confidentiality is of utmost importance to protect the identities of these potential brand partners.
## Lessons from Dr. Melik Demirel
In an interview with Dr. Melik Demirel, he shares several valuable lessons for fellow entrepreneurs. He highlights the importance of identifying innovation areas and showcasing the impact of your technology through events to attract venture capitalists. Dr. Demirel also advises considering partnerships with companies interested in your prototype and actively searching for talented individuals in your domain. Securing strong intellectual property rights and a favorable license agreement can significantly increase the valuation of your startup. Lastly, he emphasizes the need to explain the fundamentals of your science to venture capitalists who may not be familiar with your field.
## A Promising Future
Companies like Tandem Repeat Technologies, with their brilliant scientists harnessing the power of AI to address the global issue of plastic pollution in our oceans, give hope for a more sustainable environment for future generations. By offering durable and sustainable alternatives to plastic-based fabrics, Tandem Repeat is challenging the fabric industry and contributing to a cleaner and healthier planet.
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