Ginkgo Bioworks Goes Public, Looks To Grow Cell Programming Platform

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Ginkgo Bioworks, the Boston-based synbio startup, has gone public on the NYSE. Trading under the ticker symbol DNA, the company, which raised $1.6 billion through the SPAC merger, is now looking to continue growing its cell programming platform “to solve even bigger problems with biology”, from alt-materials to sustainable protein. 

Ginkgo Bioworks began trading on the NYSE on September 17, after closing a SPAC deal with Soaring Eagle. Raising over $1.6 billion in proceeds, with major shareholders including ARK Investment, Putnam, and Morgan Stanley’s Counterpoint Global among others, the firm says it is now ready to ramp up its cell programming platform. The fundraise brings the company’s estimated value to $15 billion.

Gingko’s stock and public warrants are listed on the NYSE under the ticker symbols DNA and DNA.WS respectively.

Source: Joyn Bio

Cell programming

Since its inception in 2008, the company has been offering its platform that leverages robotic automation, proprietary software and data analytics to enable biology engineering. Its platform allows companies across multiple industries, including food ingredients, cosmetics and fragrances to manufacture more sustainable bio-based alternatives for their products. 

Some of the companies that have spun off from Ginkgo’s technology include Motif Foodworks, an alternative protein firm that brews plant-based ingredients and meat alternatives, and agtech startup Joyn Bio, which is a joint venture with Bayer. 

Gingko is also partnered with corporations like Swiss ingredients giant Givaudan, in a multi-year deal that will see the two firms develop a series of bio-based products enabling new fermentation-based sustainable ingredients.

Source: Motif Foodworks

In another collaboration, the Boston company has teamed up with alt-materials startup Bolt Threads to help improve the efficiency, sustainability and cost-effectiveness of its b-silk protein for clean beauty applications. 

Read: Synbio will reshape food and fashion with double-digit growth – report

‘Solving even bigger problems with biology’

With fresh capital to further build out its technology, Ginkgo co-founder and CEO Jason Kelly says the company is now ready to “scale our platform to solve even bigger problems with biology.”

One of the most keenly-eyed applications for Ginkgo’s cell programming platform is in the realm of alt-proteins and novel sustainable foods and ingredients. A trend accelerated by the pandemic, consumers are now paying far more attention to the health and environmental impact of their food choices, driving US plant-based retail sales alone to $7 billion last year.

Source: Ginkgo Bioworks

But while the current alt-protein market is dominated by plant-based players, industry watchers expect the fermentation pillar to make its mark in the coming years, with a plethora of new players now debuting novel proteins that are bioidentical to its animal counterparts, thanks to the use of cell programming technology applied as precision fermentation. 

Perfect Day, for instance, makes its animal-free whey proteins using precision fermentation, which has since been used to develop cruelty-free and sustainable ice creams like Brave Robot.

Source: Ginkgo Bioworks

“For nearly two decades, my co-founders and I have been on a mission to make programming cells as easy as programming computers. Today marks an important milestone not only for the team at Ginkgo, but for synthetic biology as a whole,” said Kelly. 

Kelly co-founded Gingko with COO Reshma Shetty, CTO Barry Canton, head of strategy Austin Che and “DNA hacker” Tom Knight. As part of the merger with Soaring Eagle, the company’s board will be joined by the SPAC’s CEO and chairman Harry Sloan, Allogene Therapeutics co-founder Dr. Arie Belldegrun, and Reshman Kewalramani, the CEO of Vertex Pharmaceuticals. 


Lead image courtesy of Ginkgo Bioworks.


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