Mission-Driven Stories

Read Our Stories

Ginkgo Bioworks: Tom Knight

Biotechnology is an area budding with innovation and breakthroughs. One biotech company, founded in 2009 by scientists from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is Ginkgo Bioworks.

Using grants from the National Science Foundation, DARPA, and the Department of Health and Human Services, Ginkgo Bioworks invested in a long-term vision for synthetic biology by developing a specialized capacity of using genetic engineering to produce bacteria with industrial applications. It did so by innovating the traditional method of engaging in organism engineering.

Traditionally, companies searched for genetic DNA sequences from nature to perform particular functions and worked to scale manufacturing when they had the right sequencing of strains. In contrast, Ginkgo Bioworks developed organisms specific to the agriculture, food, health care, and energy sectors, and built specialized foundries to optimize these strains. Their codebase of engineered strains was able to create network effects, as they did not need to code new applications from scratch and could start from their knowledge and relationships among the different strains.

The interesting thing to program in the
21st century isn’t going to be computers—it’s biology.
Tom Knight

Founder of Ginkgo Bioworks

In 2021, Ginkgo Bioworks’ innovative model led the company to go public at a $17.5 billion valuation.

Related Story

Share Your Venture Meets Mission Story

How has your journey in public service elevated your career? In what ways has it enhanced your perspective on life? We invite you to share your story with us and join our Venture Meets Mission community.

Share Your Story