Why the Future of Synthetic Biology Needs a Platform

SynBioBeta San Francisco 2017: Why the Future of Synthetic Biology Needs a Platform

Today, the Ginkgo team and I are attending the 6th annual SynBioBeta conference in San Francisco—an annual meeting that brings together leaders in the synthetic biology industry. I’m kicking off the day discussing why biology is the most powerful and advanced technology on the planet and Ginkgo’s mission is to make biology easier to engineer.

We’re witnessing an exciting shift in the biotech world. Companies big and small across a variety of industries—from enzymes to fragrances to agriculture—are realizing the power of biology as a better way to make everyday ingredients and products.

Last month, we partnered with Bayer to launch a new company—along with a $100M Series A investment—to improve plant-associated microbes, focusing on nitrogen fixation. Nitrogen fertilizer is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and water pollution, and we’re proud to be at the forefront of solving such a major problem with biology.

We hope this partnership serves as a major indicator for synthetic biology’s potential: big companies are looking to solve big problems with this technology. But more importantly, we believe the potential for biology doesn’t have to come with a $100M investment. Smaller companies are also rethinking manufacturing through biology, and we’re committed to being a platform that’s accessible to companies of all industries and all budgets.

Today we have three announcements that help cement our vision for being a universal and accessible platform for the biotech world:

• We’ve long-admired Transcriptic’s mission to make lab work less expensive and faster thanks to the power of automation. Today we’re investing over $10 million to bring their software into our foundries, to further improve our automation processes.
• We’re teaming up with Geltor, an 8-person company creating texturizing proteins for foods and cosmetic products, to help it make products faster and more efficiently. With our foundry, Geltor’s team can focus on product design and development, and more importantly make biotech timelines compatible with business cycles in the CPG markets.
• To support our growth, we’ll be purchasing one billion pairs of synthetic DNA from our longtime partner Twist Bioscience. It’s a historic purchase, and ensures we’re ready to support the needs of today’s customers and tomorrow’s partners.

I’m incredibly proud of what our team has built so far. We’ve designed a platform that powers  big and small customers, while allowing partners to build on top of our technology to create something even greater.  At the same time, I’m humbled by what lies ahead. We’re looking forward to meeting other consumer biotech companies this week at SynBioBeta to learn about their roadblocks and hope that Ginkgo can play a role in contributing to their success!

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