The new youngsters on the block: first-time traders in synthetic biology are targeted on cleantech 1

The new youngsters on the block: first-time traders in synthetic biology are targeted on cleantech

In February, Boston-based Motif Ingredients, a manufacturer of synthetic proteins totally, became the most important meals tech startup in history whilst it raised $90 million of Series A. The funding becomes fantastic now, not simplest for its length, however for the names at the back of it, which covered the likes of global commodity large Louis Dreyfus Company and Bill Gates’s weather-focused Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV).

While BEV and Louis Dreyfus would possibly look like an unbelievable pairing, they’re now not the most effective large names stepping into synthetic biology. The industry raised a document of $3.8 billion in 2018 and is on course for the same quantity this 12 months.

Bill Gates is honestly not new to synthetic biology. His Cascade Investments changed into an early backer of Memphis Meats and Ginkgo Bioworks. But BEV has upped the ante with investments in Pivot Bio, DMC Biotechnologies, Sustainable Bioproducts, and, now, Motif Ingredients.

Synthetic biology is large for cleantech investors

Agriculture, along with the production of animal proteins, is a prime focus for cleantech traders because it bills for nearly a quarter of all greenhouse gasoline emissions. Gates calls it one of the 5 grand challenges of climate exchange, along with electricity, production, transportation, and homes.

Cleantech investing has emerged from the trough of disillusionment, propelled with the aid of new technologies, including synthetic biology. Motif Ingredients, for instance, is built around gene editing, gadget studying, and robotics skills that did no longer exist a decade in the past.


Motif, a spin-off of Ginkgo Bioworks, objectives to discover a cornucopia of herbal ingredients, such as the vitamins and proteins found in meals consisting of milk or meat. It will then produce the usage of engineered yeasts and bacteria in a fermentation technique, just like brewing beer. The employer plans to increase components for plant-primarily based versions of meat and dairy in addition to “cultured meat” grown from animal cells in bioreactors.

Berkeley-based Pivot Bio raised $70 million in its modern-day investment round, often from BEV. Pivot Bio has evolved a microbial solution that replaces nitrogen fertilizers, reduces nitrogen runoff, and removes the manufacturing of nitrous oxide. Production of nitrogen fertilizers debts for about 3 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

DMC Biotechnologies is a Boulder, CO startup that engineers microbes to provide excessive-fee chemical substances, inclusive of biofuels. The organization raised seed funding remaining yr from BEV and Capricorn Venture Partners. Sustainable Bioproducts, a Chicago-based totally startup, raised $33 million in March to create animal protein substitutes using excellent-efficient microbes located within the volcanic springs of Yellowstone National Park.

Sustainable Bioproducts is backed by other big-name buyers besides BEV, consisting of Andrew Chung’s 1955 Capital. Chung, a former companion at cleantech pioneer Khosla Ventures, launched 1955 Capital four years ago to bring renewable strength and sustainability technology to the developing international, mainly China.

Sustainable Bioproducts also received backing from food and agriculture giants Danone and ADM. Strategic investors consisting of those, play a larger position in artificial biology than in other tech industries. Typically they may be corporations that want to gain insight into innovations that could disrupt their commercial enterprise, and regularly they’ve confined enjoy with artificial biology. Getting in advance of the game with strategic investments.


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