Ginkgo Bioworks acquires Zymergen, Bayer’s R&D site

The leading horizontal platform for cell programming, Ginkgo Bioworks, announced on Tuesday it has inked agreements to acquire two teams and technologies that would help the company “bring together the best technologies onto one platform to better serve our customers.”

Ginkgo Bioworks acquires Zymergen

As part of its mission “to make biology easier to engineer,” the Boston-based biotech company announced it will acquire biotech company Zymergen in an all-stock transaction – for a market capitalization of $300 million – that is “expected to close in the first quarter of 2023.”

In an acquisition that is expected to accelerate the development of its innovative horizontal synthetic biology platform, Ginkgo plans to integrate “Zymergen’s core automation and software technologies for scaling strain engineering capacity, including Zymergen’s machine learning and data science tools for exploring known and unknown genetic design space.”

Being a horizontal platform, Ginkgo doesn’t produce its own products, so it will support Zymergen’s plans to evaluate strategic alternatives for their Advanced Materials and Drug Discovery businesses, “which have established valuable product pipelines and rapid prototyping capabilities.”

Back in January, Zymergen announced a new drug discovery business based around their proprietary synthetic biology platform and their metagenomics database, which is believed to be the world’s largest.

The company pointed out in the announcement, “Zymergen’s initial drug discovery pipeline is focused on high-value oncology targets where precision medicine and Zymergen’s distinctive, complex molecules are expected to provide competitive and therapeutic advantages.”

Expanding capabilities in agricultural biologicals

The second agreement Ginkgo signed with Bayer was announced back in April, as part of the company’s plans to “expand the platform capabilities to support agricultural biologicals R&D from discovery through formulation and early field trials.”

Pursuant to the deal is projected to close in the fourth quarter of 2022, the company “will acquire Bayer’s 175,000-square-foot West Sacramento Biologics Research & Development site, team, and internal discovery and lead optimization platform for approximately $83.0 million in consideration.”

As Ginkgo noted in its release, “agricultural biologicals are a rapidly growing category of solutions that have the potential to offer tremendous sustainability and performance benefits.”

The agreement also envisages integrating “the R&D platform assets from Joyn Bio, a joint-venture between Ginkgo and Leaps by Bayer formed in 2017.”

“By acquiring one of the premier R&D sites for agricultural biologicals worldwide and partnering with the best-in-class teams at Bayer and Joyn, we are demonstrating our commitment to developing breakthrough products for growers around the world,” said Jason Kelly, CEO, and co-founder of Ginkgo Bioworks.

As we previously reported, Joyn Bio is developing “an engineered microbe that enables cereal crops to convert nitrogen from the air into a form they can use, significantly reducing the environmental impact of agriculture’s reliance on chemical fertilizers.”

Both Ginkgo Bioworks and Bayer are members of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO).

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