Ginkgo Bioworks and the cell-based initiative

Founded in 2008, Ginkgo has raised approximately US$1.6 billion to build a platform for customer to program cells as easily as programming computers. Food & Beverage Asia speaks with Sneha Srikrishnan, senior director of fungal technology at Ginkgo Bioworks, to find out more about the company’s technology, insights, and the launch of its commercial plant-based meat spin-off, Motif Food Works.

How is Ginkgo’s technology optimised to develop yeast strains and protein production processes, in light of a rapidly changing global food system? How can alternative producers remain vigilant and prepared, to meet said rapid changes?

Sneha Srikrishnan: Gingko offers our partners solutions ranging from developing new chassis strains to meeting functionality goals for food ingredients. Ginkgo’s “Foundry” and “Codebase” approach provides customers with solutions, supported by scientists, automation for high throughput experimentation and operational teams to guide the development all the way through deployment.

Ginkgo recently launched its Cell Development Kit (CDK) early this year, with a first offering in the protein production space. The CDK modules are our way of providing technical services within a standard deal structure that is easy to navigate. There are four primary modules we are offering: (1) discovery of novel proteins via metagenomic sourcing; (2) prototype and sample development from a proof-of-principle chassis (Pichia, Aspergillus or E. coli); (3) optimisation of strains for commercial production and (4) scale-up and process development. In addition, Ginkgo continues to focus on pushing the performance of chassis strains, developing new capabilities and employing tools including DNA synthesis, next generation sequencing, proteomics, transcriptomics, metabolomics, protein purification and characterisation to aid alternative food markets.

One important aspect of alternative food is that replacement ingredients often need to compete with their meat or dairy counterparts in terms of not just taste and formulation but also cost, functionality and nutritive value. With continual expansion of Ginkgo’s Foundry and increase in the throughput of our automation, our costs have reduced by 50% each year for the last six years. We believe that we can now engineer biology at 1/10th the cost of performing the same work by hand, and in a few more years this will drop to 1/100th the cost. We believe that Ginkgo’s platform can be a powerful solution to quickly evaluate feasibility of an ingredient that is both scalable and functional.

The full article can be found on Food & Beverage Asia’s October/November 2022 issue here.