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Ginkgo Bioworks Adds $45M to Expand Organism Engineering

Xconomy Boston — 

Ginkgo Bioworks has raised its second round of funding this year, a $45 million Series B, which it plans to use to create new kinds of synthetically engineered organisms and build a second production facility.

The Boston-based company designs and builds organisms for customers that can be turned into customized cultured ingredients, such as flavors, fragrances, cosmetics, and nutritional ingredients. Ginkgo says it is developing organic pesticides for an agriculture company, sweeteners for a soda business, and rose oils for Robertet, a French fragrance company.

The new funding will be used to expand into fields such as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and probiotics (“good” bacteria). Ginkgo has already been working with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency on probiotic research, and is in early stage development of organisms it engineered for E. coli and antibiotic-resistant bacteria infection.

Ginkgo used the $9 million of Series A funding it received in March toward completing the construction of its first “foundry,” the production facility where its software and robotics are used to design, construct, and test engineered organisms. It said in March it plans to build a second foundry starting in 2017.

The company decided to raise new funding so soon after the Series A because of increased interest from both investors and potential customers, according to a spokeswoman. Viking Global led the round, along with previous investors including OS Fund, Y Combinator, and Felicis Ventures. In 2014, the startup was the first biotech in Y Combinator’s accelerator program

Ginkgo was founded in 2008 by computer scientist Tom Knight and a group of MIT graduates including Jason Kelly, Reshma Shetty, Barry Canton, and Austin Che. It was selected in 2009 as one of two companies to find better ways to assemble synthetic DNA, funded with $4.1 million through a Scottish initiative.

The company eventually developed a kit for assembling multi-gene systems, and has secured $15 million in contracts with DARPA. Ginkgo’s Series A funding came from Felicis Ventures, OS Fund, Data Collective, iGlobe Partners, and Vast Ventures.