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Ginkgo Bioworks is a leading synthetic biology company headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. They aim to make biology easier to engineer, enabling new products and manufacturing processes across industries. Ginkgo designs microbial programs to specification and optimizes cells to produce valuable biological products.

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Ginkgo Bioworks and the Rwanda Development Board Announce Plans to Gide
Ginkgo Bioworks and the Rwanda Development Board Announce Plans to Gide

A Startup Founded Around Engineering Biology

Ginkgo Bioworks was founded in 2009 by a group of MIT scientists with a vision to treat cells like programmable computers. Using genetic engineering and robotics, they sought to abstract the living world into standardized parts and processes. This would let them design organisms on demand to produce anything from food flavors to fertilizer.

In 2014, Ginkgo opened the world’s first organism foundry and rapid prototyping facility for synthetic biology. Their automated Foundry platform lets scientists quickly design, test, and refine up to 40,000 strains of engineered microbes simultaneously. This scaled-up bioengineering capability attracted partnerships and investment from leading companies.

Partnering to Grow the Bioeconomy

Rather than sell specific products, Ginkgo focuses on biological platform development for customers across industries. They design microbes that produce target compounds identified by partners. Ginkgo’s approach lets them serve diverse markets looking to biologically produce items traditionally made using fossil fuels.

Example partnerships include fragrances and flavors with Robertet, vitamins with ADM, and agriculture biologicals with Bayer. In 2017, Ginkgo formed a joint venture with genetics sequencing firm Illumina to provide bioengineering services to customers globally. They aim to make engineered organisms accessible and affordable to grow the bioeconomy.

Ginkgo Bioworks Resarch Labratroy
Ginkgo Bioworks Resarch Labratroy

Ginkgo Bioworks Process: Design, Build, Test, Learn

Ginkgo takes a systematic approach to programming cells, following four key steps:

Design – Scientists consult with customers to identify target biological products. They then map out metabolic pathways and gene sequences to design an organism to specification.

Build – Using automated systems in their foundry, they engineer the designed microbe by assembling fragments of synthetic DNA into a genome.

Test – The organism is cultured and tested to confirm it produces the intended compound. Ginkgo’s high-throughput methods let them run rapid prototyping iterations.

Learn – Data analytics and machine learning improve the design-build-test cycle over time, optimizing performance.

This loop allows efficiently engineering microbes tailored for each customer’s needs.

Pioneering the Era of Cell Programming

Ginkgo envisions a future where bioengineering is as widespread as software programming. They want to make programming DNA as simple as coding an app. Their work also aims to replace environmentally harmful industrial processes with sustainable biological manufacturing using renewable resources.

With $700 million in venture capital funding, Ginkgo continues to scale its Foundry platform. They aim to become the go-to organism design firm powering the transition to a global bioeconomy. By enabling customers to program cells, Ginkgo unlocks the power and potential of biology.

Ginkgo to Expand Applications of Cell Programming
Ginkgo to Expand Applications of Cell Programming


Ginkgo Bioworks leverages synthetic biology to engineer custom microbes that produce valuable compounds for partners across industries. Their automated Foundry makes bioengineering more scalable and accessible. With biology expertise and cutting-edge technology, Ginkgo aspires to make cell programming as routine as software coding to support a sustainable bio-based economy. Their innovative work turning cells into biological factories unlocks exciting new possibilities.

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Q: When was Ginkgo Bioworks founded?

A: Ginkgo was founded in 2009 by a group of scientists and engineers from MIT seeking to make genetic engineering of organisms easier and more accessible.

Q: How does Ginkgo design custom organisms?

A: Ginkgo follows a systematic design-build-test-learn cycle. They collaborate with customers to design organisms to specification, engineer them using synthetic biology techniques, rapidly test iterations, and optimize the strains using machine learning.

Q: What is Ginkgo’s Foundry?

A: The Ginkgo Foundry is their state-of-the-art facility that contains automated systems for high-throughput genetic engineering and rapid prototyping of up to 40,000 microbial strains simultaneously.

Q: Who are some of Ginkgo’s major partners?

A: Ginkgo has partnered with leading companies in industries from food to pharmaceuticals including Bayer, Illumina, ADM, Robertet, and Motif FoodWorks.

Q: What is Ginkgo’s long-term vision?

A: Ginkgo aims to make cell programming as routine as software engineering to support the growth of a global bioeconomy. They envision cells becoming accessible and affordable biological factories producing sustainable alternatives to petroleum-derived goods.

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