Ginkgo Bioworks: mini-bioreactor will speed expansion into pharma

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

Ginkgo Bioworks buys third SSB mini-bioreactor
Ginkgo Bioworks buys third SSB mini-bioreactor

Related tags Bacteria

Industrial microorganism design firm Ginkgo Bioworks expects to cut six months off development timelines using mini-bioreactor technology supplied by Sartorius Stedim Biotech (SSB).

US-based Ginkgo announced it had purchased its third ambr 250 system yesterday, explaining that the technology will be used to accelerate fermentation process development at its facility in Cambridge in the UK.

Spokesman Barry Canton told us “Ginkgo needs to scale our organism engineering capacity rapidly to keep up with customer demand. We looked at a number of fermentation systems and concluded that only the ambr250 has the performance, economics, and scalability we need.

We can run a wide range of fermentations in the system and produce rich, predictive data about our organisms. This performance combined with substantial reductions in labour and material costs make the ambr250 a very scalable platform that can grow with Ginkgo.

Canton added that Ginkgo expects to cut six months of microorganism development timelines using the technology, which he predicted would help the firm grow its business faster.

Pharma demand

Ginkgo, which spun out of MIT in 2008, uses software guided robots to design microbes for industrial applications. The firm’s organisms are used to make ingredients for the cosmetics and probiotics sector.

Last year​ it completed a $45m (€40.8m) series B funding round – with Viking Global joining existing backers OS Fund, Y Combinator and Felicis Ventures – citing a desire to expand into the pharmaceutical sector as the driver.

Canton confirmed the ambr 250 investment was in part motivated by growing demand from the pharmaceutical sector.

We are seeing increasing customer demand across a range of markets​” he said, adding that “Ginkgo is developing organisms that make flavours and fragrances, industrial enzymes, nutritional ingredients, cosmetics, sweeteners, and pharmaceuticals​.”

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