Building A Better Future With Biology 

SynBioBeta x Leaps by Bayer 

SynBioBeta and Leaps by Bayer share a passion for building a better world with biology. We partnered for the SynBioBeta 2020 conference to shed light on the future of synthetic biology. We are happy to share some of the sessions and Leaps Talks presented at this year's conference.  In these discussions, leaders in health, agriculture, and culture explore a range of fascinating topics, from future-proofing biotech against ethical failings to investing in effective tech to halt climate change, the depth of the sea, the human microbiome, and beyond…

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The Microbiome: From decoding nature to biotech breakthroughs

Interest in the human microbiome—the ≈2 kilos and trillions of diverse bacteria that inhabit the large intestine—isn’t just hype or a natural healing trend. A significant uptick in basic science is studying the complex relationship between the microbiome, hormones, nervous and immune system, and beyond. While we turn insights into action, will interest in microbiome health fade or accelerate? We’ll look at the latest in microbiome research, explore our complex relationships with natural versus engineered treatments, and how the two might co-exist.



Stephanie CullerCo-Founder and CEO, Persephone Biosciences, Inc., Zack AbbottCEO, ZBiotics, Eric van der HelmVP - Head of Synthetic Biology & Bioinformatics, SNIPR BIOMEJasmina AganovicEntrepreneur in Residence, Ginkgo BioworksJonathan EisenProfessor, University of California, Davis, Lee CooperDirector of Venture Investments, Leaps by Bayer, Ronie SchmelzCounsel, Tucker Ellis LLP

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10 Billion: Designing crop for the next generation

The convergence of tech and biology is bringing the day closer when the most affordable and delicious foods will also be good for our bodies and the planet. To achieve this, new R&D platforms are needed that put crop engineering into action at the scale and speed of the cloud.


Megan MolteniWriter, WIRED, Ai OikawaCEO, AFINGEN, Cherie OchsenfeldData Scientist, Pairwise, Derek NormanVP Venture Investments, Leaps by Bayer

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The Sea, The City, Outer Space: What is the next frontier for truly sustainable agriculture?

To nourish a growing population while safeguarding the health of our planet, tomorrow’s agriculture will need to look beyond maximizing yields and cropland. Fighting deforestation and climate change means looking towards truly disruptive approaches—from growing lettuce in Shanghai to tomatoes in the sea or protein labs that produce the finest cuts of filet mignon, or fresh salmon for the colonies of Mars. This session explores diversifying where and how we produce food while sustaining human and planetary health.


John CumbersFounder & CEO, SynBioBeta, Paimun AminiDirector of Investments, Leaps by Bayer, Luke YoungCEO, Agrisea, Jim FlattCo-Founder & CEO, Brightseed Bio, Liz SpechtSenior Scientist, Good Food Institute

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Sustainability, Food Security, And The Climate: In conversation with Bayer's Matthias Berninger

Climate change and food security are inextricably linked, and as the world’s biggest agriculture company, Bayer has a special role in the response to these global challenges. SynBioBeta founder John Cumbers talks with Matthias Berninger, Head of Public Affairs, Science & Sustainability at Bayer AG, to explore the relationships among circularity, climate change, and food production. They’ll discuss emerging innovations, how we measure technical and societal progress, and the role of the synthetic biology community in partnership with government, NGO, investors, and public stakeholders in setting a course for the future.


John CumbersFounder & CEO, SynBioBeta, Matthias BerningerHead of Public Affairs, Science & Sustainability, Bayer AG

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Dopamine, Disinformation, And The Ethics Of Technological Progress: A Leaps Talk with Tristan Harris

What happens when the technology of social media meets the biology of our minds?  In this fireside chat with SynBioBeta Founder, John Cumbers, Harris will explore how new technologies can have both positive and negative consequences on our lives.  How does this color the public conversation around solving global challenges like hunger, genetic disease, and climate change?


John CumbersFounder & CEO, SynBioBeta, Tristan HarrisPresident & Co-Founder, Center for Humane Technology

Watch the Leaps Talk On october 19th

The Culture Of Synthetic Biology And Moonshots For A Better World: A Leaps Talk with George Church, D. A. Wallach & Kira Peikoff

In a time of global crises from health to climate, how can the scientific entrepreneurial engine drive better outcomes for society? How do we provide a return to investors, whilst maintaining healthy people and a healthy planet?  This conversation brings together a synthetic biology pioneer, an iconoclastic artist and investor, and a science journalist to explore moonshot thinking around grand challenges. We’ll explore the most promising biotech tools for future-proofing humanity, how start-ups can catalyze the process, and the obligations to ourselves and others as we develop a shared vision for our biological future. 


George ChurchProfessor, MIT & Harvard, D. A. WallachCo-Founder, Inevitable Ventures, Kira PeikoffEditor-in-Chief, LeapsMag

Leaps Talks

Leaps Talks bring together leading minds from distinct disciplines to discuss the ethics, opportunities, and challenges in biotech innovation and investment. Breakthroughs in biotech could change the world for better, yet raise important ethical questions that can’t be answered by scientists and investors alone. Leaps by Bayer believes it’s critical to engage society in this dialogue, and works with partners worldwide to stimulate these discussions.

Leaps by Bayer

Leaps by Bayer is the impact investment unit of Bayer AG. Leaps invests in paradigm-shifting advances in the life sciences – targeting the breakthroughs that could fundamentally change the world for the better. Leaps by Bayer aims to conquer ten huge challenges facing humanity. Some people call them impossible. We call them “leaps.” Much of what we are aiming to achieve is not yet possible. Setbacks and failures are to be expected in dealing with such ambitious targets.

Our approach is making significant and sustained investments in disruptive biotechnologies that could have the greatest impact on humanity.