Building a Platform for the Next Generation of Biotech Startups

Our mission is to make biology easy to engineer because we know that engineering biology is incredibly important and incredibly hard. It’s programming without a debugger, manufacturing without CAD, and construction without cranes. We’ve spent the past 11 years building a platform to make programming cells easier, to automate the process of designing, building, and testing genetic programs because we believe that better tools will enable companies to use synthetic biology to grow better and more sustainable products.

We also know that building a company is incredibly hard, especially for hard tech that requires a lot of overhead, like biology. We got our lab equipment from eBay and MIT dumpsters and our lab fridges from Craigslist (here’s Barry hauling one we got for $20 out of a South Boston basement in 2009). Bootstrapping the lab meant years of slowly building our tools, but for us the tools are the point. With great tools, we’ve been able to work with great companies to help them use synthetic biology to innovate their products and processes. But we dream of a future where biotech startups are as easy to launch as software startups, where founders don’t have to spend years and millions of dollars booting up a genetic engineering lab before they can get to work on building a great product.

That’s why we’re excited to be partnering with Y Combinator and Petri to support new startups on our platform. If they’re a good fit, companies that are part of these accelerators will have the opportunity to leverage Ginkgo to jump start their development. A startup that wants to make a new kind of advanced material, food ingredient, cosmetic, or therapeutic can focus on the research and marketing they need to make and sell a great product, without having to dig in any dumpsters for thermocyclers.

Both partnerships are really special for us here at Ginkgo. We were the first biotech company to go through Y Combinator five years ago, and that experience set us off on the path that brings us here today and inspired more innovation and early-stage investment in synthetic biology. And Petri is our newest neighbor, a brand new accelerator that is supporting founders at the intersection of biology and engineering, opening right here in our building in the seaport just a couple floors down. Petri will support founders through its year-long program from inception to launch. We wish Petri had been around when we started Ginkgo and we’re excited to partner with them.

We’ll work with both Y Combinator and Petri to identify startups in their cohorts next year that are a good fit to work with Ginkgo and we’ll program cells for them using our platform in exchange for equity. There are so many great ideas in synthetic biology just waiting for the right support and great tools. We’re honored to be able to enable the next generation of entrepreneurs in synthetic biology.

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