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Bayer boosts biological position through partnership with Ginkgo Bioworks

Agreement will bring Joyn Bio’s nitrogen-fixing technologies to Bayer

Bayer is stepping up its game in the agricultural biological space. The firm announced that it is:

  • Pursuing an agreement whereby Ginkgo Bioworks will acquire Bayer’s West Sacramento Biologics Research & Development (R&D) site and internal discovery and lead optimization platform. The contemplated transaction, projected to close before the end of 2022 pending final negotiation of the agreement terms and subject to regulatory approvals, will bring Joyn Bio’s nitrogen-fixing technologies to Bayer.
  • Closing the joint venture created between Leaps by Bayer and Ginkgo Bioworks in 2017. 

Ginkgo Bioworks will become a multiyear microbial strategic partner with Bayer in their work to develop biological solutions that include:

  • Nitrogen optimization
  • Carbon sequestration
  • Next-generation crop protection

Bayer officials say the transaction will enable Bayer to:

  • Expand its biologicals position
  • Strengthen its access to key enabling technology in synthetic biology
  • Maintain Bayer’s role as the preferred research, development, and commercial partner in the biologics segment

“Bayer’s work in the rapidly growing biologics space is an essential part of our commitment to sustainability and providing effective climate-smart products like nitrogen fixing and optimization technologies,” said Bob Reiter, head of R&D (research and development) for Bayer’s crop science division, in a news release. “Our work with Ginkgo will accelerate our biologicals pipeline by leveraging Bayer’s expertise in bringing reliable and effective biological products to market against Ginkgo’s synthetic biology research engine – now enhanced by an expanded ag biologics research and development platform – and help Bayer continue to expand our biologics product range to create tailored solutions for additional crops.”

Traditional Chemistry Complement

Bayer officials say this strategic shift to an exclusively external biologics research discovery pipeline with leading partners will:

  • Activate the international open innovation ecosystem
  • Equip Bayer to better leverage its proven capability in commercializing biologicals

Bayer officials say this will create category-leading products that meet the growing need for climate-smart and sustainable options that complement traditional chemistries.

“This is an exciting time for biologicals and Bayer understands that development of the next generation of biological products must be accelerated to help growers face the challenges of climate change and food security as well as to meet the demands of sustainability,” said Benoit Hartmann, senior vice president and head of biologics, Bayer crop science division, in a news release. “Leading Bayer biologics products like Serenade and BioRise 2 are already being used by growers across the world to reduce their use of products associated with higher greenhouse gas emissions and improve yields. We expect that in the coming decade biologicals as an industry will continue to grow rapidly, and we are ready to leverage our expertise, experience, and resources to not only maintain, but expand on our leadership position in biologicals with a diverse set of leading partners.”

The R&D platform of Joyn Bio is intended to join forces with Ginkgo Bioworks along with Bayer’s West Sacramento R&D platform through this transaction upon the projected close before the end of the year, say Bayer officials. Joyn’s developments in exploring synthetic biology potential in nitrogen fixation and other projects will join Bayer’s biologics development and optimization platform under one roof. Bayer officials say this strengthens biologicals discovery and development and enables accelerated work on sustainable breakthrough technologies for agriculture.

“Ginkgo is an established and growing leader in synthetic biology and we are now bringing the success that we’ve demonstrated in other complex, regulated industries to agriculture through the acquisition of the Bayer Biologics West Sacramento Site along with its discovery and lead optimization platforms, and continuing to build on the work of our joint venture with Bayer, Joyn Bio,” said Jason Kelly, CEO and cofounder of Ginkgo Bioworks, in a news release. “We want agricultural biological development to be as simple and efficient as programming a computer, and by combining Ginkgo’s expertise in biologics early discovery and development with Bayer and Joyn’s platforms, we will be able to offer effective paths to market for Bayer’s Biologics division.”

Tailored Solutions

Bayer Biologicals offer benefits to growers through dependable tailored solutions both in organic and conventional grower operations, say Bayer officials. Besides pest management capabilities, biological solutions can be used to improve soil, root, and plant health. This spurs increased yield and quality in many crops, say Bayer officials. The enhanced range of choices available to growers with biologicals provide complementary ways of managing pests and diseases together with traditional chemistries – often while boosting crop efficiency – making them a perfect fit in modern integrated agriculture management programs, add Bayer officials.

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