Sumitomo Chemical Co., Ltd, one of Japan's leading chemical companies, and Ginkgo Bioworks, which is building the leading platform for cell programming and biosecurity, announced a new program to develop functional chemicals with synthetic biology and expand upon the companies' existing biomanufacturing partnership.
Sumitomo Chemical and Ginkgo Bioworks have been collaborating since 2021 using Ginkgo's synthetic biology platform for the production of products in industries ranging from personal care and cosmetics, to agriculture and pharma. Today's announcement marks the start of a third project between the companies which aims to enable the mass production of functional chemicals via fermentation.
As part of this latest project, Ginkgo Bioworks plans to utilize its strain design technology to develop a microbial strain and related fermentation process to produce the target molecule, while Sumitomo Chemical will develop the manufacturing process and its scale-up for commercialization. By mass-producing the functional chemicals through microbial fermentation instead of traditional fossil fuel-based chemical synthesis, the companies aim to provide products with a lower carbon footprint that contribute toward a carbon-neutral society.
As the rapid development of biotechnology and digital technologies continues, synthetic biology, in which organisms are genetically engineered to express desired functions, is attracting more attention in various fields. In particular, leaders in the chemical industry expect synthetic biology to have the potential to replace raw materials and create energy-saving processes, replacing the current high-temperature, high-pressure processes that use petroleum as a raw material.
"In the field of chemicals, there is an urgent need to develop products and processes with low environmental impact, and we believe that the use of synthetic biology will meet this need," said Hiroshi Ueda, Executive Vice President of Sumitomo Chemical. "By strengthening our collaboration with Ginkgo Bioworks as a partner in synthetic biology, we aim to accelerate the development of innovative technologies that could be a game changer for the chemical industry and ultimately consumers."
"Sumitomo Chemical is a valued long-term partner to Ginkgo Bioworks, and we are as excited as ever about our work together to introduce bio-based products across multiple industries. Our ongoing relationship provides an invaluable opportunity to generate continuous learning and create scalable processes that allow our partners to make more and more sustainable products through synthetic biology," said Jason Kelly, CEO and co-founder of Ginkgo Bioworks. "We're so proud of the fruits already borne by our unique collaboration, and we look forward to continuing to work through the pipeline of products of interest that we share with our fantastic colleagues at Sumitomo Chemical."