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Ginkgo Bioworks

Ginkgo Bioworks

Ginkgo Bioworks is a biotechnology company using machine learning techniques and lab automation to engineer microorganisms as a service.


Ginkgo Bioworks, based in Boston, Massachusetts, is a biotechnology company that specializes in creating various microbes through the practice of genetic engineering. Ginkgo Bioworks was founded in 2008 by Jason Kelly, Reshma Shetty, Barry Canton, Austin Che, and Tom Knight.

Ginkgo Bioworks designs microbes in analytical labs called biofoundries, which are comprised of software and hardware tools that allow for rapid prototyping and high-throughput screening. As of 2022, Ginkgo Bioworks has four biofoundries where it pursues various projects such as fragrances, flavors, probiotics, and more. The company works with customers to develop custom microbes for such purposes.

Ginkgo Bioworks uses Python code to pull out DNA sequences that might produce a gene to make a desired product, like a specific fragrance. Robots are used to print out and assemble the DNA sequences and insert them into bacteria or yeast. The bacteria and yeast strains are tested for fitness, efficiency, and yield. Data from this process are captured and used to build design principles to make future engineering of organisms more efficient. With automated robots, one Ginkgo operator can perform around 1,000 DNA extractions in a day.


Bioworks1 was opened in early 2015. The biofoundry is capable of rapidly processing new GMO prototypes.


Bioworks2 opened in September 2016. It has the capability to test thousands of custom organism versions all at once. One of the biofoundry's projects involved creating yeast strains and brewing beer with them.


Bioworks3 opened in December 2017 for prototyping and scaling engineered organisms.


Ginkgo Bioworks opened its Bioworks4 foundry in 2018 for engineered mammal cells, including mice, hamsters, and humans. The cells can be used to create biomolecules like antibodies and proteins; with gene tweaking, the cells can be used for cancer immunotherapy.


In its early years, the company was supported primarily through government grants and worked on a variety of projects with different government agencies, such as the National Science Foundation and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), before gaining access to venture capital funding.

Government awards/grants

Award/ Grant
Funding Agency

Department of Health and Human Services



Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Department of Defense



Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Department of Defense



National Science Foundation




In June 2016, Ginkgo Bioworks and Amyris entered into an Initial Strategic Partnership Agreement to accelerate the commercialization of various bio-based ingredients, partly by allowing Amyris to access Ginkgo Bioworks's first biofoundry. The partnership agreement was confirmed in September 2016.

Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM)

On September 23, 2016, Ginkgo Bioworks announced a partnership with Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) to design organisms capable of producing cultured ingredients.


In September 2017, Bayer and Ginkgo Bioworks announced the formation of a new joint company for designing soil microbes to better deliver nitrogen to plants in an effort to reduce farmers' reliance on traditional fertilizers, the runoffs of which can pollute the environment. On March 20, 2018, the company was announced as Joyn Bio.

Cronos Group

In September 2018, Ginkgo Bioworks partnered with Cronos Group, a cannabis company, to produce a line of cultured, concentrated cannabinoids with individual properties targetting different medical concerns––chronic pain, nausea, nervous disorders, and more. In August 2021, the two companies announced they had achieved their first target productivity milestone.


Genomatica and Ginkgo Bioworks announced an alliance on September 29, 2016, to rapidly deliver biology-based solutions for various high-volume chemicals. The alliance is designed to help transition industries away from mainstream chemicals and switch them to biological process technology, which can be more economical, sustainable, and give a better product performance.


In late August 2021, Ginkgo Bioworks partnered with Givaudan, a flavor and fragrance compound producer, to develop new ingredients.


In March 2022, Ginkgo Bioworks partnered with Phytolon, a food colorant company, to develop more vibrant, naturally-derived pigments to be used in both foods and cosmetics.

Sumitomo Chemical

In June 2021, Ginkgo Bioworks partnered with Sumitomo Chemical, one of the world's largest agrochemical producers. The partnership aims to increase production efficiency and sustainability of a bio-based commercial product and to replace petroleum-based products.


On December 8, 2017, Ginkgo Bioworks and Synlogic announced a collaboration to create new living medicines for neurological and liver disorders. In November 2021, the first medicine was developed: an investigational Synthetic BioticTM medicine called SYNB1353, designed to treat homocystinuria.


On January 20, 2017, Ginkgo Bioworks announced it had acquired Gen9, a company specializing in DNA synthesis. Ginkgo Bioworks previously contracted Gen9 to deliver 300 million base pairs in 2017, making Ginkgo Bioworks Gen9's biggest customer prior to the acquisition.

Ginkgo Bioworks CEO Jason Kelly said of acquiring Gen9:

Our mission is to make biology easier to engineer and through that to enable our customers to grow better products. Having Gen9’s synthesis and assembly technology available to our customers is a valuable addition to our foundries, allowing us to further speed up the process of organism design.

Ginkgo Bioworks acquired Novogy in December 2020 and integrated its codebase and team expertise into Ginkgo's own bioengineering platform. A majority of Novogy's technical team joined Ginkgo Bioworks in the acquisition. With Novogy's lipid-producing yeast strains, Ginkgo Bioworks has been able to accelerate its development of bio-based oils, which can be utilized to make more eco-friendly products.

Project Beacon

In January 2022, Ginkgo Bioworks announced the acquisition of Project Beacon COVID-19 LLC, a Boston-based social benefit organization that works to increase the capacity and accessibility of COVID-19 testing.


In October 2019, Ginkgo Bioworks launched a fund called the Ferment Consortium. The fund was established for the purpose of launching new spinouts. Investors who contributed to a beginning funding round of $350 million included General Atlantic, Viking Global Investors, and Cascade Investment Group. The fund mainly launches spinouts in industries in which synthetic biology isn't yet commonly used, like waste recovery.

Motif Ingredients

Motif Ingredients, spun out of Ginkgo Bioworks in February 2019, creates synthetic proteins that provide the various flavors and textures of animal products like beef and dairy to be used in plant-based food products.

Company Patents

Patent description
App/pub number

Joseph Jacobson




Patrick Boyle, Reshma P. Shetty




Jeffrey C. Way, Joseph H. Davis




Reshma Shetty, Thomas F. Knight Jr., Randall D. Rettberg




Curt R. Fischer, Austin J. Che, Reshma P. Shetty, Jason R. Kelly





April 22, 2022
Ginkgo Bioworks announces plans to expand its platform capabilities in agricultural biologicals by acquiring Bayer's West Sacramento Biologics Research & Development site.
April 13, 2022
Ginkgo Bioworks partners with FREDsense to develop water quality biosensors.
April 12, 2022
Persephone Biosciences Inc. partners with Ginkgo Bioworks to develop novel therapeutics.
March 25, 2022
Ginkgo Bioworks partners with Phytolon to produce natural food colorants.
January 6, 2022
Ginkgo Bioworks announces a partnership with Optimvia to improve the manufacturing efficiency of the biosynthetic compound heparin, an essential medicine that is primarily produced from industrial animal agriculture practices.
December 20, 2021
Ginkgo Bioworks partners with the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology to develop an associate degree in biotechnology manufacturing, with the program to be housed at the Nubian Square Life Science Training Center.
December 13, 2021
Ginkgo Bioworks and Clinical Enterprise, a Eurofins Scientific Company, announce partnership to support the Operation Expanded Testing Program, a federally funded program that provides free COVID-19 PCR testing to educational institutes and other communities in need.
October 6, 2021
Scorpion Capital, a short seller, publishes a report claiming that Ginkgo Bioworks is a "shell game" and "colossal scam," resulting in an immediate 20% drop in share value.
September 17, 2021
Ginkgo Bioworks goes public on the New York Stock Exchange.
August 31, 2021
Ginkgo Bioworks partners with Givaudan to produce new food ingredient compounds.

Funding Rounds





Further Resources


"Biology by Design: Engineering organisms" by Patrick Boyle: Ginko Bioworks at NCC 2016

December 14, 2016

Can This Company Convince You to Love GMOs?

Sarah Zhang


February 12, 2018

Changing Gene Synthesis: Gen9 and Ginkgo Bioworks Partnership

November 16th, 2016

Introduction & A Conversation with Our Founders (Ginkgo Bioworks Investor Day 2021)


July 8, 2021

Move Over, Jony Ive--Biologists Are the Next Rock Star Designers

Liz Stinson


November 18, 2015


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Conor Hale
October 6, 2021
Calling its business model "hocus-pocus" and "a colossal scam," the activist short seller firm Scorpion Capital has stung Ginkgo Bioworks--the synthetic biology company that went public less than a month ago through a $1.6 billion SPAC deal.
Emma Betuel
September 17, 2021
Gingko Bioworks, a synthetic biology company now valued at around $15 billion, begins trading on the New York Stock Exchange today. Gingko's market debut is one of the largest in biotech history. It's expected to raise about $1.6 billion for the company. It's also one of the biggest SPAC deals done to date - Gingko [...]
Steve Lohr
September 16, 2021
The story of Ginkgo Bioworks shows the challenges and progress in the emerging field of synthetic biology.
Steve Lohr
September 16, 2021
The story of Ginkgo Bioworks shows the challenges and progress in the emerging field of synthetic biology.
Antonio Regalado
August 24, 2021
MIT Technology Review
Jason Kelly has promised a manufacturing revolution with DNA. Just don't ask him to make any products.


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