Back in June, we announced that we had launched commercial scale production of cultured CBG and had amended our agreement in order to enable Cronos to commercialize cannabinoids ahead of reaching the originally stated productivity targets. In that press release, we wrote that Cronos Group expected that the final productivity target for CBG will be achieved prior to September 2021.
Today, I’m thrilled to announce that we’ve achieved that productivity target for the commercial-scale production of CBG! Reaching this productivity target for the strain producing the cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) molecule will support Cronos Group’s planned CBG product launch this fall. As a result of achieving this milestone, Cronos Group will issue to Ginkgo approximately 1.5 million common shares.
The CBGA molecule will be the fifth product going to market that has directly utilized the Ginkgo platform.
Cell programming can enable access to rare and important molecules found in nature, including cannabinoids and many other valuable products. We’re proud to be able to help many different companies across industries develop strategies for using biology to innovate new products. We’re thrilled to see the progress our partnership with Cronos Group has made in the three years we’ve worked together and consider it a demonstration of how much can be accomplished when a leading-edge company leverages our platform.
We built our cell programming platform to make it easier for people to develop apps with biology. And while we love working on brand new ideas with partners, we also really love helping them improve their existing products and processes to make them more efficient and accessible. This week, we’re thrilled to announce Bolt Threads as our latest partner enhancing an existing product by running a cell program on the Ginkgo platform.
Bolt’s cell program seeks to improve the sustainability, efficiency, and cost effectiveness of their b-silk™ protein manufacturing process by leveraging our expertise in strain engineering.
Bolt is a biotechnology company creating the next generation of advanced materials. Their team of engineers and designers have spent nearly a decade at the forefront of the synthetic biology industry, securing partnerships with consumer brands including Kering, Stella McCartney, Adidas, and Lululemon to bring advanced biological materials to consumers around the globe.
In recent years, Bolt has developed b-silk protein, an innovative ingredient inspired by the strength and elasticity of spider silk. They’ve shown that the protein is able to deliver silk-like softness, provide powerful skin defense, and has the potential to sustainably replace synthetic ingredients—like silicones—in skin and hair care products.
While the protein is currently used in premium product lines like Vegamour, the new cell program will leverage Ginkgo’s strain engineering capabilities to improve their production efficiency of b-silk protein, scaling b-silk protein to more mass availability, and potentially unlocking further applications for the ingredient throughout the clean beauty and personal care industries.
We believe in the power of biology to transform every industry that produces physical goods and have built our platform to enable innovators like Bolt to bring their vision to life.
One of the first commercial applications of cell programming that have launched off our platform is the ability to program brewing yeast so that they produce valuable ingredients during fermentation, essentially “brewing” new ingredients in a process that looks like brewing beer. These cultured ingredients can offer a more accessible and sustainable way to produce a wide array of important products, from fragrances to pharmaceuticals. Our partnership with Cronos Group, an innovative global cannabinoid company, is helping them produce a range of rare and often otherwise inaccessible cannabinoid molecules using this process.
I’m thrilled to share that Cronos is beginning their commercial production of the first such rare cultured cannabinoid product we are enabling for them, CBG. Given the progress of the program already achieved, we are amending our agreement in order to accelerate commercialization, which we hope will facilitate these products being first to market in Canada.
You can read more about our collaboration here, and view the press release here.
When people talk about the future of food, they often start by talking about how the human population is projected to reach 10 billion people by the year 2050. To feed a rapidly growing population with an expanding middle class on a warming planet, we’ll have to use new technologies and build new systems to grow and distribute food. But whether it’s about choosing our next meal or feeding a growing population, the stories we tell about the future of food are full of impossible tradeoffs between taste, cost, health, and the environment (think Soylent vs. Whole Foods). And when it comes to GMOs specifically, the tradeoff is even more stark. Will it ever be possible for food be sustainable, healthy, delicious, and affordable?
At Ginkgo, we believe that biotechnology is an essential part of the future of food, and we hope that it can give us more options, not fewer. We’re working towards a future where genetic engineering and cultured ingredients can help make foods that are more sustainable, healthier, delicious, and more accessible for everyone. It’s what drives our work with customers in the flavor & fragrance and food industries to make cultured ingredients and the work of Joyn Bio, our joint venture with Bayer engineering microbes for more sustainable agriculture.
Today we’re thrilled to be launching Motif Ingredients, a new company built on Ginkgo’s platform to address one of the biggest challenges and changes emerging for the future of food—protein. Recognizing the benefits to health and sustainability that come from a plant-based diet, consumer demand for complements to animal proteins has exploded in the past few years, for products ranging from oat milk to “bleeding” veggie burgers. Companies ranging from brand new startups to industry giants have rapidly innovated new foods based on alternative proteins, but there’s so much more to do to make these options as healthy, delicious, sustainable, and accessible as they should be. Motif Ingredients will use Ginkgo’s Foundry to discover and develop these necessary new alternative protein ingredients that can be made via fermentation, not animal agriculture.
Motif Ingredients is launching today with $90M in Series A funding from Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Fonterra, Louis Dreyfus Company, and Viking Global Investors. Our investors come from both high tech venture capital and traditional food producers that have been feeding the world for more than a century, all believing in our platform’s ability to deliver more alternatives for everyone’s “food future”. Motif will operate from Ginkgo’s offices in the Boston Seaport and leverage our foundries to discover the next generation of alternative proteins. We’re also excited to welcome industry veteran Jon McIntyre to the team as Motif’s CEO. Formerly the head of R&D at Indigo Ag and prior to that, a Senior VP of R&D at PepsiCo, Jon brings a wealth of experience in global food systems and alternative proteins to Motif.
A platform for discovering the next generation of food proteins
Proteins in animal products like meat, dairy, and eggs are essential for the taste, texture, nutrition, health impact, and overall experience of many foods that we eat. Food proteins have unique structural and functional properties, whether they are egg proteins giving a dessert its fluffy texture, or milk proteins protecting a baby’s digestive system from dangerous bacteria. Motif will make different proteins like these via fermentation of engineered microbes, without animal agriculture, to create a rich palette of alternative protein ingredient options for people developing new foods.
Ginkgo’s platform enables biological engineers to deeply study thousands of different protein options across a vast space of biological diversity, discover the proteins that provide the greatest functional benefit, and increase their accessibility at large scale. There is so much that we don’t yet know about even the most common foods, so the ability to search this breadth of biological diversity is essential. Even in the last 5 years, hundreds of new proteins have been discovered in milk and eggs that confer benefits to people who eat them. With Motif, we’re on a mission to explore all that animal proteins have to offer, to enable the next generation of alternative proteins.
Beyond cow’s milk and hen’s eggs, there are also foods with vital benefits that are impossible to access in large amount sustainably, such as sturgeon eggs, camel milk, and everything in between. Just one year ago, scientists discovered a new protein in platypus milk that has surprising antibiotic properties. Using DNA sequence analysis and synthesis, Motif’s scientists will be able to discover and produce hundreds of proteins from many different animals, to understand how their milk and eggs nourish and sustain life in its earliest stages and identify important new ingredients.
At Ginkgo, we are always learning from the creativity of biology and the full breadth of biodiversity to grow better, more sustainable products. We’re so excited to work with Motif as they look to biodiversity to find the proteins that will enable new creativity in food. We’re thrilled to welcome Motif to our platform and to support the next generation of chefs, food designers, and food visionaries who need new ingredients and tools for the future of food.
Cannabis is a fascinating and rapidly growing industry, predicted to reach $57 billion worldwide by 2027. As legalization spreads, so too does our understanding of the potential benefits of the many different molecules present in the plant.
Beyond the better known THC and CBD, cannabinoids present in tiny quantities in the plant have the potential to be valuable in a range of pharmaceutical applications. Ongoing research has shown potential medicinal uses for indications such as chronic pain, nervous disorders, nausea, weight loss, and some mental illnesses.
But to unlock the value of these molecules, we first need to be able to access them. Today we’re announcing a partnership with Toronto-based Cronos Group to produce a range of different cannabinoid molecules through fermentation of engineered yeasts. It’s a large-scale and long-term deal, involving up to $22M for R&D along with a total of up to $100 million worth of Cronos common shares upon achieving pilot commercial scale.
There are hundreds of different cannabinoids produced by different varietals of the plant. Long term breeding has led to strains that produce large amounts of THC(A) and CBD(A) (the A stands for acid, a different chemical form that is converted to THC and CBD when heated) but other molecules such as CBC, CBG, and THCV are present only in trace amounts, meaning that they are impractical or impossible to extract and purify from the plant. Without a cost effective supply, research into the pharmaceutical properties of these molecules has also been hampered. THCV, for example, has been shown at low doses to offer relief from anxiety without the appetite stimulating effects of THC, but so much is still unknown.
By transferring the DNA sequences for cannabinoid production into yeast, using the foundry and our existing high-throughput fermentation processes, we’ll work to construct strains that produce a range of different cannabinoids at high quality and purity, identical to those extracted from the plant with traditional methods. By capitalizing on the power of biological manufacturing, we can unlock access to medically important cannabinoids that can be scaled up and produced reliably.
We’re so excited to be working with the Cronos Group on this landmark partnership. Cronos, based in Canada and with a presence across four continents, is a vertically integrated cannabis company that operates two licensed producers regulated under Health Canada’s Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations. Cronos, with access to an array of varietals and a deep expertise in plant genetics, has gathered extensive data on cannabinoids and their properties. This allows them to generate the best recipes for the full spectrum of cannabinoids, not just the most common ones.
We’ll be working to develop strains of yeast that can produce eight different cannabinoids. All the R&D work we’ll be doing at Ginkgo will of course be conducted in compliance with all U.S. federal laws regarding controlled substances, and we’re currently waiting for approval from from Federal and State agencies. Cronos Group intends to produce and distribute the cultured cannabinoids that result from our partnership globally, and has received confirmation that this method of production is permitted under the Cannabis Act—the legal framework that will regulate cannabis in Canada.
As Ginkgo has grown, we’ve seen the power of biological engineering and fermentation to unlock the potential of a huge variety of molecules in several industries, from flavor and fragrance to pharmaceuticals. We’re thrilled to be working with Cronos as they build the world’s most innovative cannabinoid platform to bring these products to life.