Ginkgo Bioworks to collaborate with Sumitomo Chemical on animal-free personal care ingredient

July 18, 2022 - 3 minutes
Photo/Ginkgo Bioworks

Cell programming company Ginkgo Bioworks has launched a new cell programming project as part of a broader collaboration with Japanese company Sumitomo Chemical Co., Ltd. 

Through the partnership, Sumitomo Chemical will leverage Ginkgo’s codebase and expertise in organism engineering to produce molecules in a sustainable way for products across a broad range of industries. 

The target molecule of this latest project is planned to be used in the personal care and cosmetic industries and is envisioned to augment or replace one that is otherwise currently gathered from animal sources.

By engineering a strain that will produce the targeted ingredient through fermentation, Ginkgo and Sumitomo Chemical aim to create products that will bring significant benefits to consumers by supplying an ingredient that is animal-free and more sustainable. 

Existing collaboration

This is a new project in addition to the companies’ existing collaboration, which began in 2021 and focuses on bio-based production of selected molecules for the broad Sumitomo Chemical portfolio, which includes offerings from personal care and cosmetics to agriculture and pharma, and from chemicals to industrial products and more.

“The cosmetics industry is demanding more sustainable and cost-competitive beauty and personal care products, as are many others we serve, and we see tremendous potential in synthetic biology’s ability to make this possible at a commercial scale,” said Hiroshi Ueda, executive vice president of Sumitomo Chemical. 

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“We’re encouraged by the progress of our ongoing first project with Ginkgo, and we believe it’s clear from how well our teams collaborate that we will also be able to find success within additional product areas as well. Through this project, we aim to build our own capability on fermentation production with, active involvement of our new organization SynBio Hub.”

“Not only is this project a natural fit for Ginkgo’s platform, but it provides the perfect opportunity to leverage and showcase our growing codebase,” said Patrick Boyle, head of codebase for Ginkgo.

“Ginkgo has prior experience developing a precursor molecule to the one Sumitomo Chemical is currently targeting. The data and experience Ginkgo has on this precursor molecule has significantly accelerated our current program with Sumitomo Chemical, possibly saving Sumitomo Chemical multiple years off its development timeline.”

About Ginkgo Bioworks

Ginkgo is building a platform to enable customers to program cells as easily as we can program computers. The company’s platform intends to enable biotechnology applications across diverse markets, from food and agriculture to industrial chemicals to pharmaceuticals. 

About Sumitomo Chemical Company, Limited

Headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, Sumitomo Chemical offers a range of products globally in the fields of essential chemicals & plastics, energy & functional materials, IT-related chemicals, health & crop sciences, and pharmaceuticals. 

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