Jul 15, 2020

The Bioeconomy Has Arrived

The outbreak of COVID-19 is fueling an urgent need for discovery and development, particularly around medicine, testing and materials – all highly dependent on biology. Many private organizations and government agencies are working together, and teams of scientists across borders are breaking their culture of secrecy and competitive advantage to partner up, openly sharing data to solve major problems fast. This focus on collaboration is helping biology live up to its promise as a powerful force for transformation. 

A recent report from Boston Consulting Group underscores this transition, assessing that companies have embraced the “ecosystem approach” which recognizes that “especially in times of crisis, delivering a bigger pie through collaboration, rather than competing for the biggest slice of the pie, leads to better and faster results.”

Similarly, McKinsey defines these new partnerships as barbell ecosystems, or “cross-sector networks balanced by…many small, science-based companies on one side, often with entirely new digital and data capabilities, and a few large incumbents on the other, together driving the commercialization of new biological technologies.” 

These innovation ecosystems will reshape every single aspect of our lives, from commerce and culture, health and climate change, materials to fashion — largely fueled by biology. 

Zymergen is noted by both BCG and McKinsey as a key player in this movement. We’ve built a powerful platform for innovation and a deep ecosystem of customers and partners. Together, we work on solving some of the toughest unmet material needs across industries. 

We founded our company on the notion that bio-based innovations can deliver better performance, hit price points that will drive widespread adoption and can scale up to meet global demand much more quickly than many of the petro-based incumbents. Using renewable natural ingredients that can be regrown enables us to make superior products, while breaking away from the volatile prices and environmentally damaging feedstock of crude oil. 

And the payoff is massive. McKinsey projects biology could produce 60% of the physical inputs to the global economy, solve 45% of the world’s disease and contribute $4 trillion annually. It’s a powerful solution – and it’s about time.

We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to accelerate the global recovery from COVID-19 and launch us into a thriving bioeconomy. But it will again require a new approach combining unique investment models, public-private partnerships and specific engagement from the government.

Zymergen is at the center of the emerging bio-economy, and we are proud to be part of a growing ecosystem of ‘builders’. The momentum is very real. 

McKinsey’s full report on the bio-revolution can be found here, or take a moment to watch Zymergen CEO Josh Hoffman and a number of industry leaders in this panel discussion hosted by McKinsey on the emerging trends and pitfalls associated with the bioeconomy. 

Josh Hoffman on BioEconomy