Ginkgo snaps up synbio rival Zymergen for $300m

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/gradyreese
© GettyImages/gradyreese

Related tags: synthetic biology

Boston based Ginkgo Bioworks is acquiring California headquartered, Zymergen, for $300m, making it the company’s largest acquisition to date.

The deal, said the MIT spin out company, is set to accelerate the development of its synthetic biology platform.

Ginkgo will integrate its synbio competitor’s core automation and software tech for scaling strain engineering capacity, including its machine learning and data science tools, and can leverage its vast experience across diverse biological engineering approaches as well. 

The agreement has the unanimous backing of the boards of directors of both companies and Zymergen stockholders will own 5.25% of the pro forma combined company following the completion of the acquisition.

Ginkgo’s platform serves customers across industries as an enabling platform – it said it will also support Zymergen’s plans to evaluate "strategic alternatives"​ for its advanced materials and drug discovery businesses.

Struggling business

The embattled Zymergen will also continue its standalone cost restructuring initiatives, including headcount reductions and program rationalization. 

Listed in April 2021, Zymergen had generated over $1bn in venture capital funds ahead of its $500m IPO. However, in August that year, it indicated that there was an issue with a lead product. The CEO was replaced at the same time and Zymergen put a hold on recruitment. In November, the firm announced its was abandoning its two main products, rationalizing its product portfolio and dramatically cutting headcount.

Its core technical team is now expected to help fill a significant planned hiring by Ginkgo across its cell engineering, automation, digital technology, and data teams, accelerating scaling efforts while minimizing incremental run-rate operating expenses, following integration of the acquisition.

We have always had incredible respect for the Zymergen team and the strength of the technologies that they have built for cell programming,”​ said Jason Kelly, CEO and co-founder of Ginkgo Bioworks.

The integration of Zymergen’s capabilities into is foundry will accelerate the growth of Ginkgo’s platform, he continued, making biology easier to engineer for its customers, while also helping to drive down the costs of cell programming.

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