Creating rose oil from yeast may sound like science fiction; not so for Ginkgo Bioworks. The biotech start-up is designing custom microbes for customers across multiple markets. So far, it has used yeasts to create products for the flavour, fragrance and food industries. It has worked with DARPA (The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) to create probiotics to help American soldiers stave off overseas stomach bugs. It has also created bacteria that can decrease farmers’ reliance on chemical fertilisers. Any “organism engineering” the company does is scaled up using software and hardware automation.


Described as one of the most “exciting young companies in synthetic biology,” this company is disrupting in three key areas. One, it is providing cultured ingredients for the perfumes, foods and cosmetics industries; two, it is using organism engineering to improve the efficiency and sustainability of fermentation, and; three, it is using enzymes in applications from cheese-making to pharmaceuticals to creating stonewashed jeans. In short, it is learning from nature to develop new organisms, and in doing so, replacing technology with biology.


Ginkgo is currently having its biggest effect in the agriculture and pharmaceuticals industries.

The global pharmaceuticals market will reach $1.12 trillion by 2022.


Ginkgo Bioworks has received $265 million in new funding. The money will be used to help the company branch out into even more markets.