Ginkgo BioWorks raises $45M in monster Series B venture round

July 23, 2015 |

In Massachusetts, Ginkgo Bioworks has raised $45 million in an oversubscribed Series B round. Viking Global, a firm managing more than $30 billion in capital, led the round along with previous investors including OS Fund, Y Combinator and Felicis Ventures. The new funds will be used to expand into new categories such as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and probiotics, as well as hire additional employees and build out Bioworks 2, the next generation of Ginkgo’s robotic Foundry.

Ginkgo Bioworks desrcibes itself at “the intersection of industrial design and biology, delivering designer organisms built to specification for customers.” The company specializes in engineering microbes to produce cultured ingredients such as flavors, fragrances, cosmetics and sweeteners. The company’s foundry, Bioworks1, employs proprietary software and robotics to streamline the design, construction and testing of engineered organisms.

Ginkgo currently has more than 20 organism design contracts with customers including Fortune 500 companies. These projects include developing organic pesticides with an agriculture company, sweeteners for a major beverage company and rose oils for a French fragrance company, Robertet.

A representative project

We saw Ginkgo Bioworks first popped on the radar in 2011 when the company landed a $6M ARPA-E grant related to Electrofuels. At the time, it was reported that:
“Ginkgo Bioworks is bypassing photosynthesis and engineering E. coli to directly use carbon dioxide (CO2) to produce biofuels. E. coli doesn’t naturally metabolize CO2, but Ginkgo Bioworks is manipulating and incorporating the genes responsible for CO2 metabolism into the microorganism. By genetically modifying E. coli, Ginkgo Bioworks will enhance its rate of CO2 consumption and liquid fuel production. Ginkgo Bioworks is delivering CO2 to E. coli as formic acid, a simple industrial chemical that provides energy and CO2 to the bacterial system.”

Reaction from the stakeholders

“Ginkgo Bioworks was our first ever biotech investment and was part of the Y Combinator class of 2014,” said Sam Altman, President at Y Combinator. “Synthetic biology is one of the fastest growing areas of tech right now and Ginkgo is leading the category. We’re excited to invest again in the company.”

“This new financing allows us to further expand into real-world products in the nutrition, health and consumer goods sectors as well as add to our world-class team of engineers and designers,” said Jason Kelly, Co-founder, Ginkgo Bioworks. “We’re excited to have top investors like Viking, OS Fund, Y Combinator and Felicis to support our efforts and continued growth.”

“Synthetic biology is the next frontier for manufacturing, engineering and medicine,” said Bryan Johnson, Founder of OS Fund. “Ginkgo Bioworks has strong momentum in meeting customer needs and is emerging as a leader in this exciting and critical new industry.”

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