How We Do It

A better way for a better world

To bring revolutionary products to market faster and more sustainably than ever before, our team of world-class experts integrates an optimized idea-to-launch process with a groundbreaking platform of tools and technologies. 

OUR
PROCESS

Biology is the most powerful technology on the planet.

The world has big problems in need of innovative solutions. How can we protect crops from drought? How can we keep our families safe from insect-borne disease? How can we reduce the abundance of plastic waste?

Today, companies use petroleum-based solutions to solve many of these needs. But innovation has stalled in what can be created through petroleum, and the impact on our land, resources, and climate threatens our future. The path to better products requires reimagining where we look for solutions.

At Zymergen, we are solving the world’s biggest problems by partnering with nature. Nature’s biodiversity provides us with better building blocks and biology provides better ways to build. Here is how we make the products of tomorrow.

The search for nature’s superpowers starts with a click.

The potential of nature is limitless, and the scope of molecular diversity is vast. We have developed technologies that accelerate the discovery of new molecular building blocks used to create products never before possible. 

We’ve built a huge biomolecular database to power our search for new biological building blocks with properties inaccessible through petrochemicals. With proprietary simulation software, we can digitally predict a molecule’s properties. From there, we rapidly prototype candidate molecules and evaluate their performance empirically to choose the ones ultimately best suited to addressing the problem we are trying to solve. 

Once we’ve identified a winning biomolecule, we set about designing microorganisms that can produce it. Using our best-in-class genomic libraries, we generate thousands of prototypes with the potential to create the molecule we want, in the microbe of our choice. 

A faster test means a faster launch.

To genetically fine-tune a microbe to work reliably at scale, we create and test up to billions of designs informed by scientific intuition and machine-learning algorithms. But to do this by hand would not be possible. We’ve solved this by combining intracellular biosensors, parallel genome editing technologies, robotics, and software to create a process to build and screen up to billions of microorganisms in parallel, faster than ever before possible.

We'll evaluate these designs in a range of conditions and scales. By measuring the results in near real time with custom-designed analytics software and algorithms, we can quickly translate results from small to large scale. We then use the results to propose new genetic designs to create and evaluate until we find the perfect genetic recipe for commercial success. 

Our technology lets us rapidly evaluate the performance of genetic designs. Advanced machine-learning tools pull out subtle signals from the noise, so we can home in on the benefits of tiny genetic changes. This enables pioneering exploration of the known and unknown universe of biodiversity and breakthrough solutions.

Fermenting the future of products and materials.

Humankind has used fermentation for tens of thousands of years, using microorganisms to convert sugars into products like wine, yogurt, or bread. Fermentation changed the way our ancestors ate, and now we’re using it to change the way we live, from creating crop protectants and life-saving drug innovations to even phone screens and plastic substitutes. Successfully fermenting molecules for commercial needs has historically been difficult and expensive. We’re developing methods to do it more effectively and cost efficiently.

We take an iterative approach to fermentation process development, combining deep technical expertise and data science algorithms with a world-class collection of fermentation bioreactors. This lets us continually improve our ability to develop processes at lab scale that translate to commercial scale. Once we’ve produced these molecular building blocks in the quantities needed, we’re ready for the final stage.

From molecules to market.

In parallel to scaling up biomolecule production, Zymergen’s chemists and materials scientists develop the purification and chemical modification steps to convert these molecular building blocks into finished products. With established manufacturing partnerships and a global supply chain management team, we have the capabilities to take our molecules over the finish line and into the hands of our customers.

With one billion pounds of product created by our microbes and counting, we are tackling big problems with biology, making better and greener products faster and cheaper than ever thought possible.

Revolutionizing products requires revolutionary thinking.

Beyond our world-class technologies and tools, we have built a world-class team of thinkers and doers: chemists, materials scientists, biologists, automation engineers, data scientists, software engineers, industry veterans, and many more. 

But the secret to our success isn’t just having them under one roof. It’s having them in the same room. Working collaboratively and creatively, sharing ideas and solving problems together, we develop breakthrough answers impossible to reach alone. 

We are proof that magic happens when diverse perspectives come together. Bring us your big problems, and let’s make tomorrow together. 

1.2B

Pounds of product made by our microbes as of 2019

250M+

Sequenced genes in our library

1

Days to install our newest automation lab

100K+

Unique microbial strains built in 2019

OUR
PLATFORM

Chemistry and Materials capabilities deliver end-to-end solutions.

Paired with state-of-the-art technology, our teams of computational chemists, organic chemists, polymer chemists, chemical engineers, and materials scientists are crucial to our ability to deliver end-to-end solutions.

  • Fully equipped lab for chemical synthesis, materials testing, and applications development
  • Searchable database of tens of thousands of molecules that can be built through biology and modeling software to design molecular structures and predict their properties
  • Complex formulations development is supported by high-throughput automation

 

Bigger is better when it comes to genetic databases.

We have one of the world’s largest IP-protected genomic databases, and as a result, we have unprecedented access to nature’s biodiversity. To mine it for promising genetic sequences, we’ve developed advanced search algorithms and AI-guided tools that reveal industry-specific results in a variety of application areas. 

Our databases aren’t just digital, but also physical, enabling us to turn sequenced genes into prototypes faster than ever. In just a few months, we can translate dozens of digital discoveries into physical prototypes.  

  • 5x the size of leading public genomic databases (2.4 terabytes and counting)
  • 250M sequenced genes and 1M sequenced natural product clusters and counting
  • Genetic assembly lengths 15x longer than found elsewhere

 

Flexible automation means speed and consistency.

In our business, success means being able to work quickly and consistently. To do this, we’ve built the industry’s most flexible automation system. Our scientists manage hundreds of robots operating around the clock, enabling us to do in one day what would take one person a year to do. And because every project has different steps, we’ve designed a modular system that we can reconfigure in minutes and can easily scale.

  • Cloud-based Automation Control Software enables end-to-end control over the automated workflow
  • Custom-built sensor network lets us quickly troubleshoot and detect problems in near real time
  • Hardware and electronic customizations increase accuracy, safety, and reliability

 

Custom-built software works smarter and faster.

We have built fit-for-purpose software to power every stage of our process. From designing genetic edits, to strategizing scale-up, to managing and analyzing tests, our technology team has built a world-class stack of software unprecedented in our industry. 

  • Software automatically generates thousands of genetic designs at a time, allowing us to push beyond the boundaries of scientific intuition; machine learning tools predict how to combine genetic edits in an optimal way
  • Predictive modeling correlates strain performance from benchtop to industrial scale
  • Analytics tools and custom visualizations review strain performance, analyze test data, approve automated recommendations, and quickly search historical results

 

 

Bio-engineering with unprecedented throughput and accuracy.

We have developed proprietary technology and bio-engineering methods to design and build microorganisms quickly and precisely. In 2019 alone, we precision-engineered over 100,000 microbial strains in a dozen industrially relevant microbial species. Most had never been engineered in high throughput before.

  • Algorithm-guided approach ensures robust high-throughput engineering of even the most challenging microbes
  • Reconfigurable robotics and software protocol libraries make for seamless transition from R&D to production
  • Customized execution system schedules work, controls instruments, tracks samples, and standardizes our workflows, recording everything
  • High throughput analytical chemistry capacity of 500k+ samples a month

Fermentation that scales.

Fermentation is critical to our ability to scale microorganisms for commercial use. We've built a fermentation powerhouse to optimize the scale-up process.

  • 10,000 square feet of on-site capabilities house North America’s largest collection of lab scale bioreactors spanning the µL - L scale and running 24/7
  • We’ve custom-built sample tracking, data acquisition, and analytics systems for rapid decision-making
  • Established partnerships with global pilot and manufacturing scale fermentation and downstream processing organizations provide access to specialized production capabilities