The biotech company, Ginkgo Bioworks, has reached a current value of $4 billion. It recently received a capital injection of $290 million which it plans to use to grow its developer shop for genetic programming.
The company is among very few early-stage companies in the United States that are investigating the potential for advancing techniques to alter genetic properties for practical daily use.
“Cells are programmable similar to computers because they run on digital code in the form of DNA.” according to Jason Kelly, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Ginkgo Bioworks. “Ginkgo has the best compiler and debugger for writing genetic code and we use it program cells for customers in a range of industries. Today’s fundraiser will allow us to expand our technology and continue our drive to bring biology into every physical goods industry – materials, clothing, electronics, food, pharmaceuticals, and more. They are all biotech industries but just don’t know it yet.”
How it works
Ginkgo generates its revenue by selling development services to anybody that approaches them with a suitable concept. For instance, is someone wanted to create a plant that had a specific smell, such as a ficus that smelled like roses, they could pay Ginkgo a substantial sum (around $10 million) and Ginkgo will go forward with the required research to manifest the likes of a rose-scented ficus.
“You don’t need to come in with deep biological know-how,” said Kelly. “The question is, is capital interested in the problem?”
As interesting as this might sound, the company is teaming up with Bayer, the German multinational pharmaceutical and life sciences company that owns Monsanto – the creators of the infamous weed-killer Roundup, which has been linked to countless health problems. As much as tampering with genetic power is exciting, it raises the question: just because we can mess with nature’s genetics, is it really the smart thing to do?