Boston biotech startup Ginkgo Bioworks has announced the raise of $275 million in Series D funding to build out its Bioworks3 production facility.
The funding comes from previous investors Viking Global, Y Combinator’s Continuity Fund, Cascade Investment, Bill Gates, as well as new investor, General Atlantic.
The company previously raised over $154 million, bringing the total up to $429 million in the three years since launching out of Y Combinator. The new raise now puts Ginkgo’s valuation at over $1 billion, according to sources.
Ginkgo started out using yeasts to create products for the flavor, fragrance and food industries and has produced probiotics in conjunction with DARPA to help U.S. soldiers stave off stomach bugs they might pick up overseas. including creating bacteria that can decrease farmers’ reliance on chemical fertilizers and “living medicines” to cure the body of disease.
Last year, Ginkgo raised $100 million in a joint venture with pharma company Bayer to create bacteria that can decrease farmers’ reliance on chemical fertilizers by focusing on nitrogen fixation.
The new funding will be used to branch out into even more markets this next year, Ginkgo Bioworks co-founder and CEO Jason Kelly told TechCrunch.
“There are just more and more consumer goods being impacted by biotech,” Kelly said, listing off Bolt Threads and Impossible Foods as two startups doing well in the space.
But rather than honing in on one material, Ginkgo is a sort of the backbone, work in partnership with these types of companies. Ginkgo designs and ships the bugs, the companies do the rest. Right now, the biggest deals the company are coming from agriculture and pharmaceuticals.
Kelly also mentioned the possibility of going public soon. Keep in mind, the company didn’t just pop out of YC a few years back. It was founded in 2009 and already had about 15 people on the team when it entered the accelerator in 2014. An IPO would seem to be a logical next step after raising all that cash and growing to where it has.
“It doesn’t make a lot of sense for us to sell the company or seek an acquisition just because of the breadth of markets,” Kelly said. “For us this is a standalone new industry. More of an organism design industry.”
It’s exciting to see so much happening in this new biotech space, particularly with startups. Synthetic tech companies raised more than $1 billion last year and might just go beyond that by the end of 2017 — we were already at the half a billion dollars mark in July.
It will be interesting to see what Ginkgo does with its new Bioworks3 foundry over the next few months. That production facility officially begins operations today.