Ginkgo Bioworks, a symbol of automated organism engineering within the synthetic biology community, announced today that they will develop designer microbes for Ajinomoto, a global manufacturer of foods, beverages, amino acids, pharmaceuticals and industrial chemicals. The partnership is part of Ginkgo’s plan to expand into new markets with broader commercial viability.
As we covered more extensively in our blog, Ginkgo is designing probiotic bacteria that keep your gut healthy, strains that produce cultured ingredients (such as fragrances, flavors, cosmetics and sweeteners), as well as microorganisms that convert single-carbon compounds into fuels and chemicals. The Boston-based company has raised $54 M this year to operate a next-generation biofoundry – and build a second one – that brings industrial efficiency to the microbial design cycle through the use of advanced software-integrated robots. The 18,000 square foot automated lab, Bioworks1, is outfitted with 20 robots focused on either design, construction or testing of engineered strains.
With the new partnership, Ginkgo Bioworks will build designer microbes that manufacture specific ingredients that Ajinomoto seeks. The Japanese company will gain a competitive advantage by avoiding the need to conduct research in-house while at the same time obtaining ingredients at a lower price.
Before announcing a $9 million series A and $45 million series B this year, Ginkgo Bioworks received financial support from Y Combinator, and over $15 million in contracts from DARPA and other government agencies.
With the continued growth of companies like Ginkgo – the organism industry – we can imagine a future when most product companies like Ajinomoto will not build their own microorganisms, but obtain them from increasingly popular automated biofoundries.
Join us at SynBioBeta SF 2015 on the afternoon of Thursday, November 5th for a fireside chat between Jason Kelly, the CEO of Ginkgo Bioworks and Sam Altman, President of Y Combinator.0