Gingko Bioworks & Merck Announces US$490M Collaboration for Biologics

  • Ginkgo Bioworks has entered a new collaboration with Merck (known as MSD outside the US and Canada) aimed at enhancing biologic manufacturing. Ginkgo will utilize its cell engineering, high-throughput screening, protein characterization, and process optimization expertise to improve production efficiency and yields.
  • The collaboration entails potential payments of up to $490 million for Ginkgo Bioworks, encompassing upfront research fees, research milestone fees, option license payments, and commercial milestone payments. This partnership marks Ginkgo’s commitment to driving technical innovation alongside Merck to advance biologic production methods.


Article Summary 

Ginkgo Bioworks, a prominent player in cell programming and biosecurity, has revealed a new collaborative venture with Merck, known as MSD beyond the United States and Canada, focused on elevating biologic manufacturing. The partnership is geared towards leveraging Ginkgo’s prowess in cell engineering, ultra high-throughput multiplexed screening, protein characterization, and process optimization to enhance production efficiency and yield levels. This strategic collaboration signifies a concerted effort to drive innovation in biologic manufacturing.

Under the terms of this collaboration, Ginkgo stands to potentially receive a total of up to $490 million. This financial arrangement encompasses a range of components, including upfront research fees, research milestone fees, option license payments, and commercial milestone payments. This substantial investment underscores the commitment of both Ginkgo and Merck to pushing the boundaries of biologic production capabilities.

Jason Kelly, the CEO and co-founder of Ginkgo Bioworks, expressed enthusiasm for the partnership’s potential impact. He highlighted Ginkgo’s distinctive capabilities, particularly its automated protocols for predictive ultra high-throughput multiplexed screening, product characterization, and process optimization. These cutting-edge tools are poised to drive impactful and innovative work in collaboration with Merck.

Dr. Michael Kress, Senior Vice President of Development Sciences and Clinical Supply at Merck Research Laboratories, emphasized the mutual enthusiasm for this partnership. He underscored Merck’s continuous pursuit of novel approaches to streamline process efficiency while upholding product integrity. The collaboration builds upon a growing relationship between Ginkgo and Merck, as they had previously partnered on a biocatalysis project in October 2022 aimed at enhancing Merck’s active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) manufacturing. This latest endeavor signifies the companies’ shared commitment to pioneering advancements within the biopharmaceutical industry.

Source: Ginkgo Bioworks, 7th August 2023