Building the business of biodesign


  • Date 28 Mar 2018
  • Sectors Technology

Cambridge Consultants report reveals five-year vision to drive commercialisation and global impact of synthetic biology

Synthetic biology can be harnessed to address some of humanity’s most pressing challenges within a short five-year time period, according to a new report released today. The report summarises the findings of a workshop held earlier this year by breakthrough innovation specialists Cambridge Consultants. The report concludes that predictability, a competitive supply-chain and accessibility represent the three core principles that will see synthetic biology transform into a commercially-focused, world-changing technology as soon as 2023.

Synthetic biology remains nascent, yet full of promise. The idea of using rational engineering approaches to design biology has the potential to solve some of humanity’s grand challenges, such as securing food supplies or developing new cancer drugs. The last two decades have seen massive technical progress and increasing global interest in what synthetic biology might achieve. However this has not yet been translated into significant business growth. Synthetic biology products and services need to become a major part of economic activity if they are to truly deliver on their promise. Synthetic biology needs to become biodesign.

The workshop brought together senior leaders and influencers in the emerging synthetic biology industry, from many industry sectors. The resulting report, which is available to download today, identifies the following three core principles to drive this transformation:

·         A predictable engineering discipline: Synthetic biology will be established as an engineering discipline of biodesign with a high level of predictability. Effective standards will be in place to generate, collect, manage and communicate data across the industry

·         A competitive supply chain: An integrated supply chain will exist that can take the complex requirements of biological systems and translate them into competitive products and services

·         Accessible and desirable products and services: By 2023, synthetic biology products and services will be seen by all stakeholders (experts as well as non-experts) as an accessible and desirable solution to major challenges as well as to individual needs

“It’s hugely encouraging that our diverse group could unite around these core principles” said workshop leader and Cambridge Consultants’ Head of Synthetic Biology, Richard Hammond. “It demonstrates that a clear and consistent ambition for synthetic biology can be developed across multiple sectors, despite the seemingly disparate needs and market dynamics. I’d like to thank the participants for their contributions and insights and look forward to working with the global synthetic biology industry to make this vision a reality”.

The workshop took place in February 2018, operating under the Chatham House Rule and included representatives from GSK, Unilever, Ginkgo Bioworks, Synthetic Genomics and M Ventures, amongst many others.

Recognising the emergence of a new era of rational biodesign, Cambridge Consultants created its synthetic biology division in 2015. Using state-of-the-art facilities and techniques, our synthetic biology team fuses expertise in biology, chemistry and engineering to convert research-driven discovery into breakthrough products and services.

To request a copy of the workshop report, visit:

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