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Ginkgo Bioworks Raises $275M to Support Foundry, Bayer Ag Venture

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Ginkgo Bioworks announced today that it has raised $275 million in series D financing.

The Boston-based synthetic biology company will use the proceeds to grow Bioworks3, its new organism foundry, and to expand into new markets such as pharmaceuticals and agriculture.

According to Ginkgo, all of its previous investors, including Viking Global, Y Combinator's Continuity Find, and Bill Gates' Cascade Investment, took part in the new round, which brings its total amount raised to date to $429 million.

"The amount of investment tracks the scale of ambition of synthetic biology," said CEO Jason Kelly. "Traditional tech investors are increasingly investing in synthetic biology and biotech, and we're even seeing tech VC firms hiring partners dedicated to investing exclusively in life sciences," he said. "Our latest fundraise further supports this shift we're seeing from investors."

The main beneficiary of the new financing will be Ginkgo's new automated foundry. Dubbed Bioworks3, the facility opened and became operational this week. Bioworks3 relies in part on technology Ginkgo gained through its acquisition of Gen9 earlier this year. In October, Ginkgo invested $10 million into Menlo Park, California-based Transcriptic with the intention of integrating the company's robotic automation software into Bioworks3, as well as its older foundries.

"All three of our foundries leverage advanced technology to automate the highly manual processes typically required in organism design," said Kelly. He noted that since Bioworks3 opened, the company now occupies 70,000 square feet.

That added capacity should help Ginkgo expand into new markets. Earlier this year, the company announced a $100 million joint venture with Bayer to design fertilizer-producing microbes. Kelly said that the yet-to-be-named company is currently hiring. Last week, Ginkgo announced a collaboration with Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Synlogic to design new living medicines to treat neurological and liver disorders. Synlogic is developing synthetic biotic medicines, probiotics engineered to repair and replace activities in the guts of afflicted patients.

According to Kelly, the companies are designing such living medicines to both sense and respond to conditions in the body, meaning that in the future, the engineered microbes "may someday act as a diagnostic and therapeutic in one."

Concurrent with these activities, Ginkgo is also expanding its own team. Kelly said that Ginkgo is expanding its expertise in protein engineering, next-generation sequencing, DNA synthesis, and mass spectrometry, as well as robotics and software for automating organism engineering.