New Small Businesses Formed to Boost the Use of Synthetic Biology

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Two new spin-off companies--20n and De Novo DNA--have been formed to commercialize software tools developed by researchers at the NSF-funded Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (Synberc), which is headquartered at the University of California (UC) Berkeley. 


Synberc is a multi-university research center established in 2006 with an NSF grant to help lay the foundation for synthetic biology. Spinoffs play a critical role in moving early-stage technologies to the market--and they create jobs. 20n is developing the Act Synthesizer, a software tool that automates the design of biosynthetic pathways, for license. De Novo DNA is licensing advanced versions of the Ribosome Binding Site (RBS) calculator and other bioinformatics tools to established biotechnology companies.


Just as electrical engineers have made it possible for us to assemble computers from standardized parts (e.g., hard drives, memory cards, motherboards, etc.), Synberc envisions a day when biological engineers will be able to systematically assemble biological components in order to build bio-based systems that solve real-world problems in health, energy, and the environment.

20n and De Novo DNA are the latest spinoffs from Synberc research. Just last year, Lattice Automation was launched to take new biodesign tools to market. These companies join the ranks of Synberc’s existing spin-offs--Ginkgo BioWorks, Kalion, Lygos, Pivot Bio, and Refactored Materials--bringing the total to eight. To date, these companies have created an estimated 80 new jobs, with many more expected in the coming years.