It’s been another big year for the synthetic biology industry with over $900 million raised from either venture capital or the public markets. This is an incredible number considering that the whole industry raised $800 million in the whole of 2015. Already in the first six months of 2016, the industry raised more than whole of 2015.
Leading the pack was the initial public offering by Intellia Therapeutics, which is a gene editing company and spun out of UCSF, which raised $108 million when it IPO’d in May. Ginkgo Bioworks raised an astonishing $100 million at the beginning of the year to fund their expansion and building of their Bioworks 2 foundry in Boston. Editas Medicine, another gene editing company that spun out of MIT, also IPO’d at the beginning of the year raising $94.4 million.
Synthetic DNA company, Twist Bioscience, continues its dramatic rise with raising $61 million for the scale-up and commercial operation of its silicon chip-based high throughput low-cost gene synthesis platform. The consumer sector is well-represented by successive funding rounds from Bolt Threads which raised $50 million for engineered silk fabrics and Modern Meadow which raised $40 million for its leather replacement product. Ecovative announced a small funding round for the engineered wood products with a follow up announcement expected later in the year.
Engineered cell therapies are a hot new area with Wendell Lim’s Cell Design Labs raising $34.4 million, a spin-out from UCSF; and Synlogic, a spin-out from Jim Collins and Tim Lu’s lab at MIT that is engineering E. coli for drug delivery into the gut. Caribou Biosciences, a third gene-editing company, raised $30 million in a Series B funding, and Calysta announced their $30 million round for Series C funding to advance its gas fermentation platform. Amyris, which has continued to show increase in revenue this year, closed a $20 million private placement in February. Pivot Bio, a seed-coating company, which has been in stealth mode for a number of years came on to the scene with its $16 million Series A.
In addition, hardware companies such as UK-based Sphere Fluidics and Elemental Machines also were represented as well as software companies such as the UK-based Desktop Genetics and the California-based outsourcing platform Science Exchange.
Many of these companies will be speaking at SynBioBeta SF 2016 on the 4th and 5th of October. If you’re interested in learning more about the field, I encourage you to join us there.
For those of you wondering how we define the data, these all comes from our synthetic biology company database which you can sign up for at our membership portal. If you are wondering how we classify the companies, the definition of synthetic biology that we use is broadly ‘making biology easier to engineer’.1