Ginkgo Bioworks, a horizontal platform for cell programming, has announced plans to expand its agricultural biologicals capabilities from discovery to field.

These capabilities will be built through a series of transactions, in which Ginkgo will acquire Bayer's 175,000-square-foot West Sacramento Biologics Research and Development site, team, and internal discovery and lead optimization platform as well as integrate the research and development platform assets from Joyn Bio, a joint venture between Ginkgo and Leaps by Bayer, the company's venture capital arm, formed in 2017.

Bayer will be the anchor agricultural customer of Ginkgo's expanded platform, entering into a deal focused on the advancement of Joyn's nitrogen fixation program, as well as new programs in areas such as crop protection and carbon sequestration.

While Ginkgo will continue to evaluate the operating expenditures required to launch and scale its expanded agricultural capabilities following these transactions, it is expected that the cash proceeds from the deal may offset anticipated expenditures. The proposed transactions are projected to close before the end of 2022, pending the finalization of definitive agreements and subject to regulatory approvals.

Agricultural biologicals are a rapidly growing category of solutions that offer tremendous sustainability and performance benefits. Against the backdrop of rising fertilizer costs and novel pest and disease threats, growers are calling for new agriculture solutions that can increase yields while decreasing their environmental footprint. While chemical and plant trait solutions have long been the dominant solutions on the market, demand for biologicals has increased dramatically.

Bayer plans to expand its product offerings globally. In recent years, the company has focused on the biologicals segment, while seeking to partner with "disruptive" discovery companies. Bayer is committing to a multi-year collaboration, advancing a marquee nitrogen fixation program as well as other programs like such as next-generation crop protection and carbon capture.

Over the last five years, Joyn has developed microbial products with Bayer and Ginkgo. Joyn's product concepts will be advanced by Bayer, with a focus on its nitrogen fixation program, while the platform assets and supporting team members will be integrated into Ginkgo as the company seeks to expand support for agricultural biologicals. Ginkgo will also offer these capabilities to agricultural customers as it expects to provide services for greenhouse capacity, formulation capabilities, and pilot fermentation.

The parties expect to sign a definitive agreement and proceed toward an efficient close, supported by ongoing integration planning efforts. More details and updates will be provided when available.

The full press release is available online.

Click here for more Industry News.