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Ginkgo Bioworks, Bayer to Invest $100M in New Agbio Company

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Ginkgo Bioworks and Bayer said today that they have established a new agricultural biotechnology company focused on developing technologies and products for sustainable agriculture. 

The two firms together with venture capital firm Viking Global Investors will provide $100 million in series A funding to the new company. The deal is expected to close this fall.

The yet-to-be-named entity will be co-located at Ginkgo's headquarters in Boston, and Bayer's plant biologics R&D facilities in West Sacramento, California, and will draw on the partners' respective resources in synthetic biology and plant and agricultural products, the companies said.

Kemal Malik, a member of Bayer AG's board of management responsible for innovation, said in a statement that the German multinational partnered with Ginkgo to "develop transformative agricultural products based on the latest synthetic biology technology."

Ginkgo specializes in synthesizing custom microbes for a diverse customer base. The firm, which earlier this year acquired the DNA synthesis company Gen9, said that it will soon debut the third generation of its automated foundry, dubbed Bioworks3, which will be used by the new company co-founded with Bayer.

As part of the deal, Ginkgo will build a new facility for the company, as well as provide it with exclusive access to its technology and resources. Bayer will also provide it with exclusive access to proprietary microbial strains and expertise. Its most immediate activities will focus on nitrogen fixation, developing microbes that will deliver nitrogen to crops, reducing the impact of the conventional nitrogen fertilizers used in modern agriculture.

Mike Miille has been named interim CEO of the new company. He currently serves as vice president of strategy and business management biologics for Bayer's Crop Science division. He also served as CEO of AgraQuest. The partners said that additional hiring for the company is underway.