Ginkgo opens world's first “organism engineering foundry“ in Boston

Ginkgo Bioworks, a Boston-based start-up that evolved from Silicon Valley's Y Combinator, has raised $9 million by way of Series A venture capital financing.

Y Combinator is a US seed accelerator started in March 2005 that includes mentorship and educational components to help incubate businesses.

Ginkgo genetically programmed microbes to produce molecules which find application in flavours, fragrances, cosmeticss and nutritional ingredients.

The company, the first biotechnology startup to have gone through the Y Combinator accelerator, had industrialised the engineering of specific yeast, bacteria and algae strains.

Ten technicians at its factory, can, with the help of software-directed robots, equal the output of 50 to 100 scientists working by hand at a bench, according to co-founder and chief executive Jason Kelly.

Genetic programming was not new, but Ginkgo and other venture-backed startups are opening up new vistas for synthetic biology and enabling it to be performed on a greater scale, which could speed up the introduction of new products across various industries, including food, agriculture, energy and pharmaceuticals.

Ginkgo's co-founder, Tom Knight, the MIT legend had played a key role during the 1960s and 1970s in the development of ARPANET, a precursor to the modern internet.

With $9 million by way of new venture capital financing, Ginkgo had opened up a new 18,000-square foot facility in Boston - a facility that the company referred to as the ''first organism engineering foundry'' in the world.

Also, Ginko had been issued a $1 million loan by Mass Development from its Emerging Technology Fund to help the organism engineering company finance expansion and equipment for a foundry at its headquarters in Boston's Innovation District.

The company currently had leased 11,565 square feet of space for its beta foundry and offices and would lease an additional 6,785 square feet of space in the same facility for its new Foundry Bioworks1. Ginkgo expected to create 21 jobs with the transaction.

''Massachusetts is a leader in science and technology, and Ginkgo Bioworks's expansion represents a prime example of how creative entrepreneurship can thrive in the commonwealth,'' MassDevelopment president and CEO Marty Jones said in a statement.

''We are thrilled to be expanding our presence in Boston with the opening of our new Foundry Bioworks1. Through the support from MassDevelopment, this new facility will allow us to significantly expand capacity to design and manufacture organisms to spec for customers seeking access to cultured ingredients,'' Reshma Shetty, co-founder of Ginkgo Bioworks, said in a statement.