Ginkgo Bioworks and Berkeley Lights bring unprecedented speed and scale to synthetic biology with $150MM collaboration

Collaboration brings best-in-class technology to Ginkgo foundries, with a commitment to ongoing joint technology development

Ginkgo Bioworks, the organism company and Berkeley Lights, a company dedicated to finding the best cells, announced a $150MM collaboration. Through a multi-year, non-exclusive agreement, Ginkgo will incorporate Berkeley Lights’ state-of-the-art optofluidic platform into its automated genetic engineering foundries.

Leveraging the intersection of microfluidic, optical, and semiconductor technology, Berkeley Lights’ platform captures, manipulates, and characterizes individual cells on a massively parallel basis, dramatically increasing the potential throughput and speed of life science R&D and cutting down the time it takes to complete biological experiments from weeks or months. Incorporating the Berkeley Lights platform into core workflows of Ginkgo’s automated foundries will enable scientists to observe and manipulate thousands of individual cells, providing unprecedented control over cells that are too small to see by eye. The collaboration will drive continued growth in output and efficiency of Ginkgo’s foundries and enable new innovation in synthetic biology and its application across numerous industries from food to fragrances.

The infusion of new technology from Berkeley Lights is expected to more than triple Ginkgo’s capacity to measure the performance of cells, increasing the overall speed and efficiency of product delivery to its customers. The ability to measure and visually observe the performance of individual cells at a microscopic scale on the Berkeley Lights platform will significantly reduce the time needed for data collection. Further, the Berkeley Lights platform will provide the data richness from single cell analysis that is currently unavailable in data from conventional bulk measurements.

We’re exponentially improving our ability to engineer biology every year and new technologies like Berkeley Lights’ platform are essential to maintaining that pace of improvement,” said Ginkgo Bioworks co-founder and CTO, Barry Canton.The Berkeley Lights team has already had an incredible impact on pharma — including cell line development and antibody discovery — and we believe this partnership will bring about a step-change in the speed and scale at which we engineer biology for applications across a variety of industries. We hope to move not just Ginkgo initiatives forward, but the entire biotech sector.”

Together, the two companies will also expand the application of Berkeley Lights’ optofluidic platforms through the expansion of workflows available beyond those already released for the biopharmaceutical market. Existing workflows on the Berkeley Lights platform are primarily focused on mammalian cells for drug discovery and development. The Ginkgo/Berkeley Lights collaboration will generate a number of new workflows, leveraging the Berkeley platform, for several organisms including yeast, bacterial and fungal cells that will enable the development of a broad range of synthetic biology products.

“We are in an era where cell-based products are changing everything from healthcare and biofuels to agriculture and food,” said Keith Breinlinger, CTO of Berkeley Lights. “At the same time, using cells to make new, better, and more efficient products is in its nascency; we believe you will see a huge groundswell in this market in the coming years and we are excited to partner with Ginkgo to enable the development of new biological products while expanding our applications in the synthetic biology market.

This collaboration follows a year of Ginkgo’s continued commitment to expanding its foundry capabilities, partnerships, and strategic acquisitions, and will be a key step in extending Berkeley Lights’ optofluidic technology platform into the global synthetic biology market.


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