News, trends, and stories from the synthetic biology industry

Hi all,

I am excited to partner with Leaps by Bayer this year, one of our SynBioBeta 2020 sponsors. If you’re not familiar with Leaps, it’s the fast-moving impact investment arm of Bayer focused on transformative biotechnologies in agriculture and health that could have the greatest impact on humanity.  To date, they’ve invested nearly $1B in over 30 ventures, each working on platforms that have the potential to address huge challenges, or ‘leaps.’


01/ Cure genetic disease

02/ Provide sustainable organ replacement.

03/ Reduce environmental impact of agriculture
04/ Prevent and cure cancer.
05/ Regenerate lost tissue function.
06/ Reverse autoimmune diseases.

07/ Cure through microbiome health.
08/ Develop sustainable protein supply.
09/ Eradicate insect-borne infections.
10/ Drive transformational digital business models


DARE TO LEAP: These leaps reflect Bayer’s ambition to tackle the biggest challenges based on where its leadership and competencies can most make a difference. Leaps is an especially fitting SynBioBeta partner because these challenges overlap so well with the aims of the synthetic biology community.  We share a commitment to having an open discussion around the ethical topics that arise through synthetic biology.  This need for public dialogue is the impulse behind the Leaps Talks series. We are proud to host two of these talks at SynBioBeta.

If you want to learn more and take part in these discussions, then check out the following sessions at SynBioBeta next week:


Leaps by Bayer is investing at the forefront of our field, so if you’d like to connect with Leaps next week then you can find agriculture investors Paimun (PJ) Amini and Derek Norman, healthcare investor Lee Cooper and other team members via the SynBioBeta app. 


Thanks again to Leaps by Bayer for making SynBioBeta 2020 possible.






Here are the details of all the talks mentioned above



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? How does this color the public conversation around solving global challenges like hunger, genetic disease, and climate change? 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.


The culture of synthetic biology and moonshots for a better world: A Leaps Talk with George Church, D.A. Wallach, and 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.


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, Senior Vice President of Sustainability & Public Affairs at Bayer, 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.


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.


10 Billion: Designing crops 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.


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.