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Ginkgo Bioworks

Ginkgo Bioworks

Ginkgo Bioworks is a biotechnology company using machine learning techniques and lab automation to engineer microorganisms as a service.

Ginkgo Bioworks was founded in 2009 by scientists at MIT and is located in Boston, Massachusetts. Ginkgo Bioworks is an analytics company that designs organisms for customers in a range of industries. It is the self-proclaimed "Organism Company".

Ginkgo Bioworks designs microbes in analytical labs it calls synthetic biology foundries, which comprise software and hardware tools that allow for rapid prototyping and high-throughput screening. Several publicly-stated products include chemical intermediates, flavors, and fragrances; as well as microbes that provide health benefits to the human gut microbiome and agricultural crop root microbiomes.

Products and services

Ginkgo Bioworks specializes in creating tools for improving cultured ingredients, high-throughput strain improvement, and enzymes design. Cultured ingredients are made by yeast fermentation, and the yeast can be made to produce compounds for use as flavors, fragrances, food ingredients, cosmetics, and more.

High throughput strain improvement is the next step after figuring out how to make cultured ingredients. Strain improvement seeks to increase efficiency, reduces cost, and improve the sustainability of of products made by custom organisms. Enzyme design looks for ways to either use existing enzymes for other purposes or looks for ways the make enzymes do their job better. Enzymes act as catalysts that speed up biochemical reactions. Examples of the industrial use of enzymes include cheesemaking, pharmaceutical production, and clothing manufacturing. Yeast fermentation to produce perfume scents.

Synthetic biology foundries

BioworksS1

BioworksS1 was the world's first organism foundry capable of complete automation of organism strain engineering. The foundry can perform up to 15,000 automated lab tasks per month allowing genetic engineers at Ginkgo Bioworks to test thousands of new organism designs every month without the need to perform the majority of repetitive lab work.

BioworksS2

BioworksS2 is an upgraded version of BIOWORKS1 that is twice as big. It's provides a 6X productivity improvement on the original BioworksS1 foundry through more efficient integration and miniaturization of equipment.

Funding

In its early years, the company was supported primarily through governments grants. Working on a variety of projects with different government agencies, such as the national science foundation and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), before gaining access to venture capital funding in the summer of 2014.

Government awards/grants

Award/ Grant
Funding Agency
Value
Year

Department of Health and Human Services

$150,000

2013

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Department of Defense

$150,000

2012

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Department of Defense

$1,750,000

2014

National Science Foundation

$150,000

2013

National Science Foundation

2015

$150,000

Seed

On July 16th, 2014 Ginkgo Bioworks received $120K in seed funding from Y Combinator, TSVC, CRCM ventures, 11.2 Capital, Farzad Nazem, Todd Corenson, and David Spector.

Series A

On March 19th, 2015 Ginkgo Bioworks received $9 million dollars in funding from iGlobe Partners, Vast Ventures, OS Fund, Felicis Ventures, Data Collective, Ian McNish, and David Beyer.

Series B

Ginkgo Bioworks had a pre-money evaluation of $250 million and raised $45 million on July 23rd, 2015 during their series B funding. Investors include: Viking Global Investors, OS Fund, Felicis Ventures, and 11.2 Capital.

Series C

Ginkgo Bioworks had pre-money evaluation of $350 million before receiving $100 million in its series C funding round on June 8th, 2016. The funding came from a number of old and new investors including: Y Combinator, Viking Global Investors, Senator Investment Group, Baillie Gifford, and Allen & Company.

Series D

On December 14th, 2017 Ginkgo Bioworks completed its series D funding round. The company had a pre-money valuation of $725 million and gained an additional $275 million dollars in venture capital. The $275 million came from Viking Global Investors, Y Combinator's Continuity Fund, Cascade Investment, and Bill Gates. Ginkgo Bioworks is using the series D funding to build a BioworksS3 at its headquarters in Boston and hire an additional employees.

Partnerships

Amyris

On June 29th, 2016 Ginkgo Bioworks and Amyris entered into a collaboration agreement and announced their intention to partner to commercialize up to 70 cultured ingredients. The partnership was entered into in November 2017. Ginkgo Bioworks agreed to pay up to $20 million in technology access fees to Amyris. It paid $15 million upfront in 2016, but disputes resulted in the final $5 million never being paid. The pair continue to collaborate on "limited research and development", although Amyris hasn't recorded revenue from Gingko Bioworks since the initial upfront payment in 2016.

All of the founders of Ginkgo Bioworks created an affiliate, Stegodon Corporation, to provide and assume certain debt notes to Amyris while keeping the debt off Ginkgo Bioworks' books. Amyris' failure to pay debts at certain maturity dates has resulted in Stegodon Corporation receiving certain patents from the company as collateral, several of which it has paid to upkeep with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, proving that Stegodon Corporation is actively managed. Ginkgo Bioworks hasn't commented publicly on the existence of Stegodon Corporation or the affiliate's purpose. On June 29th, 2018, Amyris secured a $35 million loan to repay all amounts owed to Stegodon Corporation.

Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM)

On September 23rd, 2016, Ginkgo Bioworks announced a partnership with Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) to design organisms capable of producing cultured ingredients for use in agricultural processing and food ingredient industries. ADM hopes to help Ginkgo Bioworks create new organisms that reduce cost and increase the sustainability of their agricultural processing and food ingredient business. ADM plans on using Ginkgo Bioworks for solving problems faced by its customers through providing novel ingredient production and formulation processes.

Bayer

On March 20th, 2018, Ginkgo Bioworks announced it had finalized a previously-announced joint venture with the agriscience business of Bayer, which will be called Joyn Bio. The joint venture will focus on designing soil microbes to improve the root system microbiomes of agricultural crops, specifically providing nitrogen fixation to reduce the need for synthetic fertilizer applications. Joyn Bio is similar to the $600 million joint venture between Monsanto and Novozymes called the BioAg Alliance, which commercialized its first products in December 2016 after conducting years of field testing. Monsanto is now a part of Bayer.

Cargill

On September 22nd, 2016, Ginkgo Bioworks announced a partnership with Cargill to improve industrial fermentation processes.

Genomatica

On September 29th, 2016, Ginko Bioworks announced a partnership with Genomatica. The companies will be focusing on scaling and commercializing the intermediate and speciality chemical production of organisms made by Ginkgo Bioworks. Genomatica designs and improves industrial process of bio-manufacturing by creating economic and technical solutions to problems faced within the bio-manufacturing industry. The goal of this partnership is for both companies to work together create a unified offer for the market that provides organism design and high volume manufacturing capacity.

Prospect Bio

On October 19th, 2016, Ginkgo Bioworks announced a partnership with Prospect Bio to create a new biosensor to improve the speed and lower the cost of organism prototyping for new strain development. The biosensor under development will make the process of organism screening (testing for a desired trait) faster. Organism screening is one of the slowest processes of the design, build, test system Ginkgo Bioworks uses for organism development. Normally, each organism created by Ginkgo Bioworks has to be screened individually. A biosensor allows for the screening of many organisms at one time. Ginkgo Bioworks is hoping for a forty-fold decrease in the cost of screening and increase the speed of creating commercial ready organisms.

Synlogic

On December 8th, 2017, Ginkgo Bioworks and Synlogic announced a collaboration to engineer microbes for probiotic and gut-microbiome-based medicines.

Mergers/acquisitions

Gen9

On January 20th, 2017 Ginkgo Bioworks announced that it had acquired Gen9 — a company specializing in DNA synthesis. Ginkgo Bioworks previously contracted Gen9 to deliver 300 million base pairs in 2017, making Ginkgo Bioworks Gen9's biggest customer prior to the acquisition.

Ginkgo Bioworks CEO Jason Kelly said of acquiring Gen9, "Our mission is to make biology easier to engineer and through that to enable our customers to grow better products. Having Gen9’s synthesis and assembly technology available to our customers is a valuable addition to our foundries, allowing us to further speed up the process of organism design".

Company Patents

Patent description
Inventor
Status
Date
App/pub number

Joseph Jacobson

Application

2018-02-01

WO2018022972A1

Patrick Boyle, Reshma P. Shetty

Application

2015-10-01

WO2015148680A1

Jeffrey C. Way, Joseph H. Davis

Application

2012-03-22

US20120070870A1

Reshma Shetty, Thomas F. Knight Jr., Randall D. Rettberg

Grant

2016-11-29

US9506167B2

Curt R. Fischer, Austin J. Che, Reshma P. Shetty, Jason R. Kelly

Grant

2013-01-08

US8349587B2

Li-yun A. Kung, Daniel Schindler, Joseph Jacobson

Grant

2017-09-05

US9752176B2

Andrew V. Oleinikov

Application

2017-08-24

US20170240886A1

Timeline

BIOWORKS2

An upgraded version of BIOWORKS1 that is twice as big, and offers a 6X productivity improvement compared to BioworksS1 through better integration and miniaturization of equipment.

Bayer Partnership

​​On March 20th, 2018, the German company Bayer and its crop science division announced they will be starting a new company called Joyn Bio. Joyn Bio will focus on designing plants that make their own nitrogen fertilizer. If successful, they will create sustainable and economically feasible nitrogen fertilizer producing plants and crops. Nitrogen fertilization of soil is responsible for both a major increase in global agricultural productivity and a substantial environmental damage through toxic nitrogen run off that pollutes waterways. Plants that are able to produce their own nitrogen when they need it, will drastically reduce pollution, improve crop productivity, and reduce cost of food production.

Series D Funding Round

On December 14th, 2017 Ginkgo Bioworks completed its series D funding round, gaining an additional $275 million dollars in venture capital, with a pre-money valuation of $725 million . The $275 million in venture capital came from Viking Global Investors, Y Combinators Continuity fund, Cascade Investment, and Bill Gates. Ginkgo Bioworks is using the series D funding to build a foundry (BioworksS3) at its headquarters in Boston and hire an additional 50 new employees.

Prospect Bio Partnership

​On October 19th, 2016 Ginkgo Bioworks became partners with Prospect Bio. Prospect Bio and Ginkgo Bioworks are working together to create a new biosensor that will improve the speed and lower the cost of organism prototyping for new strain development. The biosensor underdevelopment will make the organism screening (testing for a desired trait) process faster. Organism screening is one of the slowest processes of the design, build, test system Ginkgo Bioworks uses for organism development. Normally, each organism created by Ginkgo Bioworks has to be screened individually. A biosensor allows for the screening of many organisms at one time. Ginkgo Bioworks is hoping for a forty-fold decrease in the cost of screening and increase the speed of creating commercial ready organisms.

Genomatica Partnership

​The partnership between Genomatica and Ginkgo Bioworks was announced on September 29th, 2016. The companies will be focusing on scaling and commercializing the intermediate and speciality chemical production of organisms made by Ginkgo Bioworks. Genomatica designs and improves industrial process of bio-manufacturing by creating economic and technical solutions to problems faced within the bio-manufacturing industry. The goal of this partnership is for both companies to work together create a unified offer for the market that provides organism design and high volume manufacturing capacity.

Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) Partnership

On September 23rd, 2016 Ginkgo Bioworks announced they will be working with Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) to design organisms capable of producing cultured ingredients for use in agricultural processing and food ingredient industries. ADM hopes to help Ginkgo Bioworks create new organisms that reduce cost and increase the sustainability of their agricultural processing and food ingredient business. ADM plans on using Ginkgo Bioworks for solving problems faced by their customers through providing novel ingredient production and formulation processes.

Cargill Partnership

Ginkgo Bioworks announced on September 22, 2016 that they will being partnering up with Cargill to help them improve their bio-industrial fermentations processes.

Series C Funding Round

Ginkgo Bioworks received $100 million after completing its series C funding round on June 8th, 2016. The funding came from Y Combinator, Viking Global Investors, Senator Investment Group, Baillie Gifford, and Allen & Company. At this time Ginkgo bioworks had a pre-money evaluation of $350 million.

Series B Funding Round

Ginkgo Bioworks had a pre-money evaluation of $250 million and raised $45 million on July 23rd, 2015 during their series B funding. Investors include: Viking Global Investors, OS Fund, Felicis Ventures, and 11.2 Capital.

Series A Funding Round

On March 19th, 2015 Ginkgo Bioworks received $9 million dollars in funding from iGlobe Partners, Vast Ventures, OS Fund, Felicis Ventures, Data Collective, Ian McNish, and David Beyer.

BIOWORKS1

BioworksS1 is the worlds first organism foundry that offers complete automation of organism strain engineering, and can run up to 15,000 automated lab tasks per month. This allows genetic engineers at Ginkgo Bioworks to make and test thousands of new organisms every month without the need to perform the majority of repetitive lab work.

Seed Funding

On July 16th, 2014 Ginkgo Bioworks received $120K from Y Combinator, TSVC, CRCM ventures, 11.2 Capital, Farzad Nazem, Todd Corenson, and David Spector.

People

Name
Role
Related Golden topics

Austin Che

Founder

Barry Canton

Founder

Jason Kelly

Founder, CEO

Reshma Shetty

Founder

Tom Knight

Founder

Further reading

Title
Author
Link
Type

Bayer And Ginkgo Bioworks, A Startup, Aim To Make Crops Produce Their Own Nitrogen Fertilizer

Susan Adams

Can This Company Convince You to Love GMOs?

Sarah Zhang

Five hard truths for synthetic biology

Roberta Kwok

Academic paper

Ginkgo Bioworks Pulls In $275M as Synthetic Biology Funding Soars

Jeff Engel

Ginkgo Bioworks secures $275 million in Series D, valuing the company at over $1 billion

Sarah Buhr

Move Over, Jony Ive — Biologists Are The Next Rock Star Designers

Elizabeth Stinson

Synthetic biology called to order: meeting launches effort to develop standards for fast-moving field

Erika Check Hayden

Academic paper

With designer bacteria, crops could one day fertilize themselves

Megan Molteni

Documentaries, videos and podcasts

Title
Date
Link

"Biology by Design: Engineering organisms" by Patrick Boyle: Ginko Bioworks at NCC 2016

December 14, 2016

Changing Gene Synthesis: Gen9 and Ginkgo Bioworks Partnership

November 16th, 2016

Meet Ginko Bioworks

September 16, 2010

Companies

Company
CEO
Location
Products/Services

Ginkgo Bioworks

Rapid Organism Prototyping

Ginkgo Bioworks

Rose Oil From Yeast

References