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Home » Industry Reports » What’s Your Bio Strategy for: Diversified Commodity, Specialty, and Fine Chemicals and Materials? (2018)

What’s Your Bio Strategy for: Diversified Commodity, Specialty, and Fine Chemicals and Materials? (2018)

Chemicals and Materials Industry Report overview

Chemical manufacturing is one of the world’s largest industries, producing nearly $5 trillion in goods annually. At the same time that the industry is very mature, the companies in it are highly dependent on innovation for lower costs, improved properties, and new products. Synthetic biology has been a focus area for a decade or more, and has contributed to all three of these success factors. Now, the industry and its members face threats and opportunities ranging from the tactical to the existential, and synthetic biology is arguably the best – in some cases, the only – means to address them.

What is synthetic biology?

Simply put, synthetic biology is an engineering approach to biology. The goal is to create and use tools that allow us to design and build functions in cells. Synthetic biology is a kind of mixture of biology, engineering, computing, and many other fields. There’s a combination of scientists (who tend to look for answers to natural phenomena) and engineers (who tend to build things). There are computer experts and microbe experts. And there are people from universities as well as small and large companies. So the people who call themselves “synthetic biologists” tend to come from many different backgrounds and perspectives.

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This is a series of reports that accompanies the book, What’s Your Bio Strategy? by John Cumbers and Karl Schmieder. It is meant to be an industry-specific guide for companies in fields that will be strongly impacted by synthetic biology – and need to take strategic steps in response, or in advance. It is also meant to help practitioners in synthetic biology understand the structure and future of that industry, so they can better see how to align their innovations with industry and company goals.

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About the authors

John Cumbers
John Cumbers, Founder and CEO

John Cumbers is passionate about education and on the use and adoption of biological technologies. He has received multiple awards and grants from NASA and the National Academy of Sciences for his work in the field. John has been involved in multiple startups such as those producing food for space, microbes to extract lunar and martian resources, and hoverboards! John is an active investor through the DCVC SynBioBeta Fund and his synthetic biology syndicate on AngelList. John received a PhD in Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, and Biochemistry from Brown University, a MSc in Bioinformatics from Edinburgh University and an undergraduate degree from the University of Hull in Computer Science with Information Engineering.

Mark Bünger, InnovationLab.

Mark Bünger helps clients apply science-driven innovation and technology to their biggest challenges – moonshots and beyond. He brings 25+ years as a tech researcher, developer, entrepreneur, and analyst, most recently at Lux Research, where as VP of Research he helped pioneer commercial investment in the space. His past work includes Forrester, Accenture, and several startups, as well as the University of California San Francisco and the Swedish American Chamber of Commerce.

About SynBioBeta


SynBioBeta is the premier innovation network for innovators, investors, and thinkers who share a passion for using synthetic biology to build a better, more sustainable universe. We host The Global Synthetic Biology Summit in San Francisco, October 1–3, part of Synthetic Biology Week, which showcase the cutting-edge developments in synthetic biology that are transforming how we fuel, heal and feed the world.

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