Bayer, Ginkgo Bioworks confirm new company focused on plant microbiome
Bayer and Ginkgo Bioworks will create a new company focused on the plant microbiome. Improving the microbes' ability to make nitrogen fertilizer available for plants offers a major potential benefit to sustainable agriculture. The deal provides a Series A investment of $100M by its parent companies and Viking Global Investors LP. The new company will be co-located with Ginkgo in Boston's thriving biotechnology community and in West Sacramento, California, home of Bayer's R&D activities around plant biologics. The new company will focus on technologies to improve plant-associated microbes with a major focus on nitrogen fixation. In addition to the the initial $100M Series A investment by Bayer, Ginkgo, and Viking Global Investors LP, Ginkgo will provide exclusive access to its technology, laboratory and office spaces, and will build a new facility exclusively for the new company. Bayer will also provide exclusive access to proprietary microbial strains and all necessary development know-how. Dr. Mike Miille will be named interim CEO of the new company. He is the former CEO of AgraQuest and currently Vice President Strategy and Business Management Biologics at Crop Science, a division of Bayer. The Board of Directors of the new company will be composed of two representatives from Ginkgo Bioworks - Dr. Jason Kelly and Dr. Reshma Shetty - and two representatives from Bayer - Dr. Axel Bouchon and Dr. Juergen Eckhardt. The new company will operate out of Ginkgo's Boston Seaport facility. Closing of the transaction is subject to customary conditions and expected to occur in the fall of 2017. Hiring for the new company is currently underway.