Ginkgo Bioworks is a synthetic biology company that ‘programmes’ cells to help make everything from fragrances and fossil-free fertilisers to vegan ‘meat’. Ginkgo charges customers to help re-design cells for specific purposes and takes a royalty on the resulting product once it has been commercialised.
Ginkgo’s aim is to ‘make biology easier to engineer’. It claims that the ‘magic of biology’ is that cells run on digital code similar to a computer, but instead of the binary code of 0s and 1s, for Ginkgo, it’s As, Ts, Cs and Gs – the four building blocks of DNA. Ginkgo’s platform essentially makes it easier to programme this code.
Ginkgo’s two-sided horizontal platform of its ‘foundry’, a vast automated cell engineering lab, and its ‘codebase’, the valuable data generated from it, gets three times faster and 50 per cent cheaper each year. With the ability to produce ten times the output of scientists working by hand, there are significant potential cost and efficiency gains for companies that outsource research and development to Ginkgo.
Ginkgo’s management understands that it is responsible for helping build this new industry and being thoughtful caretakers of the biological power they look to unleash. This, in turn, will help them build a sustainable offering accepted by society.
Tom Knight, one of the founders of Ginkgo Bioworks, is described as the ‘father of synthetic biology’.
in May 2016.
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