Armed with $6.3 million in new pre-seed capital, Synonym Biotechnologies has begun the development phase for its first productized bio-manufacturing facilities for non-pharmaceutical applications.
Edward Shenderovich and Joshua Lachter started the company in January 2022 to develop, finance and build commercial-scale bio-manufacturing facilities to provide synthetic biology producers of all size with flexible production capacity while also giving infrastructure investors access to a new, carbon-negative bio-manufacturing asset class they are calling “fermentation farms.”
Andreessen Horowitz, Giant Ventures, Blue Horizon, Thia Ventures and other venture funds active in decarbonization were part of the investment.
Shenderovich and Lachter closed on the funding this month and told TechCrunch via email that the pre-seed round “has allowed us to build an exceptional and well-rounded launch team and establish our product in the market.”
“We plan to use the capital to catalyze our facility development efforts,” CEO Shenderovich said. “This means focusing on hiring across our design, engineering and finance teams to lay the foundations for our first facility break-ground and accelerate our outreach for strategic partnerships across the value chain.”
Synonym is developing both the standardized designs and underwriting standards for financing its fermentation farms so that companies will be able to easily utilize them to produce better quality bioproducts at lower costs than existing options. On the investor side, the company said it is building an underwriting model to provide ESG investment opportunities.
The company is also channeling the U.S. government’s recent executive order on bio-manufacturing that wants to accelerate innovation in this area to meet goals around climate and energy goals, food security and sustainability and supply chains.
However, Shenderovich and Lachter say this will only be possible if bioproducts, for example, dairy protein, polymers and resins, reach cost parity to legacy products.
And right now, the infrastructure to properly scale “does not exist today” in a way that enables companies to make the quantity at the kind of quality that will meet future demand. They either have to build their own facility — which costs hundreds of millions of dollars — or rely on contract manufacturing organizations to produce products on their behalf.
“Costs will be the driving factor to adoption and production costs have prevented them from already entering supply chains,” Shenderovich said. “The means of production for these products will therefore be crucial, and Synonym’s core insight is that when it comes to industrial infrastructure, productization precedes financialization which precedes mass adoption.”
The global contract bio-manufacturing organization market, which venture-backed startups like Planetary and Culture Biosciences are doing, was estimated to be $22.2 billion in 2021 and is expected to more than double by 2030.
Lachter said what Planetary is doing is “indeed trying to close the capacity gap in fermentation,” but where Synonym varies is its approach to “focusing more on productization and financialization of facilities rather than a more traditional CMO model.”
The company is still very much in the early stages, with the co-founders saying their most important milestone was the launch of the development of its first facility that includes site selection and initial design. They expect to break ground on the facility in the third quarter of 2023.
This will be followed up in coming months by further announcements on construction, architecture and other development partners.