Bioentrepreneurship

Why Bill Gates is Investing in Biotech Companies

Microsoft founder and American billionaire Bill Gates are amongst venture capitalists that invest in the biotech companies – Ginkgo Bio works.

Ginkgo BioWorks

Ginkgo Bioworks is a biotech startup headquartered based in Boston, aims to design and construct DNA. In 2009, it was started by a cohort of MIT scientist including, synthetic biology pioneer Tom Knight. They use breakthrough technologies to grow bio-based products instead of manufacturing them. The company advanced technologies bring Biotechnology for consumer well, by reconstructing or modified the microbe’s genome. Also, to allow the production of bioproducts such as perfumes, cosmetics, nutrition, and bio-fertilizer.

 

Biotech companies
Synthetic Biology or SynBio allow the reconstruction or modification of genome of organisms to do something useful. For example, in this case, E. coli colonies are engineered to express GFP (green fluorescent protein), basically, this protein is found in jellyfish.  SOURCE: Gingko Bioworks

In 2014 the company was successfully accepted as the first-ever Biotech startup by Y combinatory – an American early-stage accelerator. Three years after lunching out from Y combinatory, the company has raised $429 million in total. The funding came from several investors including Bill Gates asset firm – Cascade investment. Now, the company valuation raises to over $1 billion according to its source.

Over the last few years, the company has developed advanced automation such as artificial intelligence and robotics, and by using it to construct and print out genetic code (DNA). That created DNA along with advance tool allows them to quickly design, build and test microbes until they make some useful products.

Biotech Companies
An engineer is an optimizing lab protocol on automated colony picker.  Source: Gingko

Last October 2017, Ginkgo makes a $100 million partnership with German agriculture and chemical production giant Bayer. Both biotech companies agreed to create microbes that could potentially produce nitrogen fertilizer for crops.

Currently, the company is working with DARPA to produce probiotics, allow them to treat anti-biotics resistant germs in the guts of US soldiers. Moreover, Ginkgo is also a partner with Kerry, a nutrition company. Both firm work on the production of efficient enzymes used in beverages and food.

“We are designing organisms that can solve many problems,” said Jason Kelly, co-founder, and CEO of Ginkgo. “Instead of planning to go for pharma or agriculture industry, we will simply just use engineered organisms” he added.

The video clip would give you an idea, what basically Ginkgo is doing.

Explore more: What is Bioeconomy? and why we need it?

Bill Gates Investment in Memphis Meats

Memphis Meats – one of the biotech companies primarily based in San Francisco. They manufacture clean meats precisely from animal stem cells, while not the necessity for raising or slaughter animals. Per the company report, they have already produce beef, chicken, and duck, and looking forward to more. The company grows to stem cells within the lab in a large tank by providing oxygen, sugar, and other required nutrients.

 

Lab-grown meat by a biotech company Memphis Meats
Lab-grown meat by a biotech company – Memphis Meats. SOURCE: Reuters

Memphis Meats are backed by prominent billionaires including Bill Gates, Richard Branson. Additionally, investment from Tyson Venture and Cargill, of a total $17 million. To date, the firm has raised $22 million.

“Raising meat takes a great deal of land and water and has a substantial environmental impact,” Gates wrote on his personal blog, Gatesnotes.com, a few years ago. “Put simply, there’s no way to produce enough meat for 9 billion people. Yet we can’t ask everyone to become vegetarians. That’s why we need more options for producing meat without depleting our resources.”

“I’m thrilled to have invested in Memphis Meats,” Branson said in an email in response to questions from Bloomberg News. “I believe that in 30 years or so we will no longer need to kill any animals and that all meat will either be clean or plant-based, taste the same and also be much healthier for everyone.”

Why Lab-Grown Meat?

Scientist predicts that at the tip of 2050, the worldwide population can reach 9.6 billion. There is no way that standard meat production will be feasible for such a population. Secondly, it requires much to feed, time span, lands plus a huge amount of water to grow live-stokes for meat production. While on the other hand, meat grown in lab require 100 times less land and 5.5 times less water. 

Explore more: What is Bioentrepreneurship?

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