Boston's Ginkgo BioWorks Bags $100 Million to Buy a Whole Lot of Synthetic DNA, Inks Deals with Twist Bioscience and Gen9

Boston's Ginkgo BioWorks Bags $100 Million to Buy a Whole Lot of Synthetic DNA, Inks Deals with Twist Bioscience and Gen9 June 8, 2016
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

BOSTON – Microbe-engineering company Ginkgo BioWorks nabbed $100 million in a new round of funding and also inked partnership deals with synthetic DNA providers Twist Biosciences and Gen9, the company announced this morning.

Over the past 15 months, Ginkgo has secured $154 million in private investments. The new $100 million in funds will be used to help fuel the company's growth into new markets, including commodity chemicals, industrial enzymes and human health markets. Additionally, Ginkgo said the money will aid in the building of its next-generation automated foundry, Bioworks2, where Ginkgo's organism engineers “can develop new designs at massive scale.” Last summer, the company raised $45 million in Series B funding, which it planned to use to expand operations into pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and probiotics.

"We believe that designed biology will be for this century what information technology and computers were to the last," Jason Kelly, chief executive officer and co-Founder of Ginkgo Bioworks, said in a statement. "Biology is the most advanced manufacturing technology on the planet. As we get better at designing biology, we'll use it to make everything, disrupting sectors that the traditional tech industry hasn't been able to access. In the past few years, we've heard that biology is becoming a software problem, but biology can do many things that software simply can't."

Through its new partnership, Ginkgo ordered 600 million base pairs of manufactured DNA—the largest supply of DNA ever purchased. In 2015, Ginkgo said it intended to purchase 100 million base pairs of DNA, which at the time was about 10 percent of the yearly global market for synthetic DNA. The intention to acquire 600 million base pairs of synthetic DNA is a signal of Ginkgo’s projected growth as it attempts to move into new markets. The synthetic DNA is the raw material for Ginkgo's biological prototypes, and will be used to generate genetic designs that will be built and tested in Ginkgo's new foundry, Bioworks2.

Ginkgo Bioworks delivers designer organisms for its customers, using engineered microbes to manufacture cultured ingredients such as flavors, fragrances, cosmetics and sweeteners. Bioworks1, the company foundry, uses proprietary software and robotics to streamline the design, construction and testing of engineered organisms. In addition to its expansion into new markets, the company will also use some of that $100 million to expand its own employee base. In an interview with XConomy, Kelly said the company will hire about 50 employees over the next year, growing to about 140 people.

Participants in Ginkgo’s $100 million funding round include Y Combinator's Continuity Fund, Senator Investment Group, Cascade Investment, Baillie Gifford, Viking Global Investors and Allen & Company LLC, the company said in a statement.

Sam Altman, president of Y Combinator, touted Ginkgo’s growth and technology.

There has never been a better time to take a long-term view and use technology to solve major problems, particularly with the advancements happening in synthetic biology," Altman said in a statement.

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