Drug Development

The promise of designer microbes inspires a $130M mega-round for Zymergen

These days, promising a tech revolution can be worth a fortune in venture backing. And that’s just what Zymergen just earned in its Series B, which topped out at a mega-round sized $130 million.

This biotech company is engineering designer microbes, looking to create a whole new generation of materials that can be used in everything from generic drugs to…well, you name it: cups, adhesives, proteins and on and on.

Nobel Prize-winner Steven Chu, who sits on the board, told the Financial Times that the secret sauce is in machine learning; IDing groups of genes inside microorganisms that are the key to creating new and improved organisms. And Zymergen has been advancing robotics tech to take human error out of the equation.

Sound super cool? At this conceptual stage there’s more promise than proven performance at the three-year-old company, which insists it is working with a super secret list of Fortune 500 companies who want in on the ground floor of this tech revolution.

Zymergen CEO Josh Hoffman did flag one client to Forbes: DARPA, the military R&D arm that likes to try all sorts of scientific fliers in search of breakthrough tech. In the case, Hoffman tells Forbes, the work is focused on new materials that can, say, coat things to make them last longer.

Whoever the full set of partners are was enough to gain SoftBank’s lead in the $130 million financing round. Total raised: $174 million.

They have the money and the rep, now they need to prove they can start doing it.


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