As investors flock to synthetic biology, automated lab accelerates Ginkgo’s expansion to new markets
Boston, Mass. – December 14 – Ginkgo Bioworks, the organism company, today announced the opening of Bioworks3 – Ginkgo’s third foundry for prototyping and scaling engineered organisms. This expansion is supported by $275 million in a Series D round with participation from all previous investors, including Viking Global, Y Combinator’s Continuity Fund, and Cascade Investment, the private investment vehicle of William H. Gates III, as well as new investors, including General Atlantic, a leading global growth equity firm. This brings the company’s total funding to $429 million. Bioworks3 will bring the power of biology to new markets including pharmaceuticals, agriculture and textiles, and accelerate the timeline for bringing current projects to commercial scale.
Ginkgo designs and prints DNA, the digital code that underlies all living things. With the tools in its foundries, Ginkgo can design this living code to build custom microorganisms for customers in a wide range of industries. Its work includes everything from yeasts that produce fragrance and flavor ingredients to bacteria that can decrease farmers’ reliance on chemical fertilizers to living medicines that work with the body to cure disease.
“We believe in the power of biology as a better way to make things, and we founded Ginkgo to make biology easier to engineer. DNA is the code that will drive the next technological revolution, the way that digital code drove the revolution in information technology in the last half century,” said Jason Kelly, Ginkgo Bioworks CEO. “But unlike digital code, DNA code powers us – it is our food, our medicine, and increasingly, our technology. Our foundries are a platform that enable our partners to tap into the power of biology.”
The new foundry and funding will be used to accelerate Ginkgo’s expansions into new markets and scale existing projects. Ginkgo’s foundries leverage advanced technology to automate the highly manual processes typically required in organism design. The space and technology afforded by Bioworks3 is expected to further accelerate Ginkgo’s ability to bring designs to scale, and support work on Ginkgo’s first foray into agriculture through a $100M joint venture with Bayer.
Leveraging the power of biology for manufacturing means designing products that are at the core living things – able to grow and reproduce, with lower environmental impact and waste. Ginkgo enables industries from agriculture to consumer electronics to grow products in more sustainable ways, and major companies and investors alike have taken note. Synthetic biology companies raised more than a billion dollars in private investment in 2016, a number expected to be surpassed in 2017.
“We believe that Ginkgo’s outstanding team, technology, and business model position it well for continued growth,” said Dr. Michelle Dipp, Managing Director of General Atlantic. “We look forward to working closely with Jason and the entire Ginkgo team to support the company’s expansion into new industries and global markets.”
“Ginkgo taught me to understand that DNA is code that can be designed and built to do amazing things,” said Y Combinator president Sam Altman. “It’s time for Silicon Valley to pay attention to biology, because designing organisms will have an impact in ways that designing computer code never will.”
The Series D fundraising round and opening of Bioworks3 cap off a year of major expansion for Ginkgo. This year marked Ginkgo’s acquisition of Gen9, a leading printer of synthetic DNA, a new $100M joint venture with Bayer to design fertilizer-producing microbes, new partnerships for work on food processing enzymes with Swissaustral and Kerry, and its entry to the pharmaceutical industry through its partnership with Synlogic. In October, the company announced a major supply agreement expansion, purchasing one billion base pairs of synthetic DNA from Twist Bioscience. This is the largest volume supply agreement in the industry and makes Ginkgo the largest designer of synthetic DNA worldwide, using it in the process of prototyping new designed organisms.
About Ginkgo Bioworks
Headquartered in Boston, Ginkgo Bioworks uses the most advanced technology on the planet – biology – to grow products instead of manufacturing them. The company’s technology platform is bringing biotechnology into consumer goods markets, enabling fragrance, cosmetic, nutrition, food, agriculture and pharmaceuticals to make better products. For more information, visit www.ginkgobioworks.com.