With millions in funding, biotech leader Ginkgo Bioworks opens a new foundry

By Deanna Utroske contact

- Last updated on GMT

image courtesy of Ginkgo Bioworks
image courtesy of Ginkgo Bioworks

Related tags: Ginkgo bioworks, Dna, Biology

The Boston, Massachusetts – based synthetic biology company, known in the beauty industry for its work with fragrance maker Robertet, has just announced $275 million in Series D funding and the opening of a new facility that promises to launch the company in new markets and speed up current projects.

In a statement to the press, Jason Kelly, Ginkgo Bioworks CEO, explains the company’s overarching venture: “We believe in the power of biology as a better way to make things, and we founded Ginkgo to make biology easier to engineer,” ​says Kelly.

And he goes on to outline the future of biotech as he sees it, saying, “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. But unlike digital code, DNA code powers us – it is our food, our medicine, and increasingly, our technology. [Ginkgo Bioworks'] foundries are a platform that enable our partners to tap into the power of biology.”

Infrastructure

This morning Ginkgo Bioworks announced the opening of a new facility on its Boston campus known as Bioworks3.

3 because it’s the company’s “third foundry for prototyping and scaling engineered organisms,” ​as the media release explains. The foundries are where the coding and production happen. Work that’s been getting increasingly larger in scale and complexity but faster and more efficient as Ginkgo grows.

It was just over one year ago that the company opened its second foundry. That facility advanced biotech production by, as Cosmetics Design reported​, “[automating] many processes that Ginkgo Bioworks previously performed by hand. This speeds up innovation and production…”

And the company has been part of several partnerships in a reasonably short span of time (with Amyris​, Transcriptic Robotics​, Kerry​, etc.) that have helped Ginkgo’s business learn and grow.

Support

The new Bioworks3 foundry was made possible by $275m in funding from the company’s roster of supporters: Viking Global, Y Combinator’s Continuity Fund, and Cascade Investment, which is the private investment vehicle of William H. Gates III, as well as monies from new investors like the global growth equity firm General Atlantic.

All told, the company’s funding now amounts to $429m, according the media release about the new facility.

Potential

The sort of biotech that Ginkgo specializes in is basically about manipulating biology in a controlled setting to produce ingredients, inputs, and products that would otherwise require conventional industrial means. And the process promises to generate “lower environmental impact and waste,” ​as the release explains.

Which is to say, that there’s a lot of potential here. “We believe that Ginkgo’s outstanding team, technology, and business model position it well for continued growth,”​ Dr. Michelle Dipp, managing director of General Atlantic, tells the press. “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.”

And Sam Altman, president of the startup accelerator Y Combinator, believes what Gingko is doing now will be the future of tech: “Ginkgo taught me to understand that DNA is code that can be designed and built to do amazing things,”​ he tells the press, adding that “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.”

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