PurThread Technologies is weaving a commercialization tapestry for its antimicrobial textiles technology that spans health care, consumer applications and beyond.
The Durham company has already established a presence in hospitals with linens, curtains and scrubs made with the company’s proprietary textile technology. With the closing of $7 million in new financing announced Tuesday, PurThread can now take aim at applications for the military and first responders, CEO Lisa Grimes told WRALTechWire.
“People that work with emergency response type situations ask about our ability to partner,” Grimes said. “ That’s an area that we’re also looking at.”
The equity investment was led by PurThread’s board chair Richard Bodman and was joined by other angel investors who “share the company’s passion for reducing bioburden in the hospital environment.” Grimes said 10 new investors were added in the round, which was started in October. She said that the strong investor response to the fundraising effort was validation for the company and its technology.
PurThread has developed a way to incorporate a proprietary antimicrobial agent into each fiber that is made into a textile used in a hospital environment. Unlike some other products, where an antimicrobial sprayed or applied to fabric, PurThread antimicrobial is embedded within each fiber before the thread is even made. Despite being a synthetic fiber, Grimes said that the feel of PurThread yarn can’t be distinguished from other yarns. All of PurThread’s yarns are made in the United States; most of them are made in North Carolina.
Because the antimicrobial properties are embedded within each and every fibers, the bacteria-resistant properties don’t leach from the textiles even after multiple washing. Hospitals, which are keen on reducing the spread of hospital-acquired infections, are a key market for PurThread. But the reduction of bacteria also reduces the odor associated with bacteria and Grimes said that the company sees broader opportunities. While the company already has deals with sports apparel companies Grimes said the next big opportunity could be the hospitality industry.
The funding will be used to support PurThread’s expansion into these additional markets along with more testing. The company conducts testing in its Durham labs and also has tests done by an independent third party. PurThread makes no therapeutic claims that would need to be evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration so the textiles don’t fall under the agency’s oversight. Grimes said that the testing is done to make sure that textiles made from PurThread’s technology meet its own internal testing requirements.
PurThread markets to hospitals directly. Partnerships with apparel companies gets PurThread’s technology into the consumer market. Grimes said that in addition to adding more apparel partnerships, PurThread is also evaluating potential partners for applications with first responders and the military.
PurThread’s eight full-time employees are complemented by 20 contractors. Grimes said she could not give any hiring projections but added that the new funding gives the company the ability to bring on additional workers, particularly in sales.