SoftBank invests in a start-up that makes “designer microbes”

SoftBank has led a $130 million investment in a US bioengineering start-up that makes “designer microbes”, in the latest sign of artificial intelligence and robotics invading the natural sciences. The three-year-old venture, Zymergen, uses machine learning and other techniques to re-engineer the genetic make-up of micro-organisms. The enhanced microbes are used in existing industrial processes including making generic pharmaceuticals, but its backers hope the technology will also open the way to bigger breakthroughs… Zymergen, which is based in California, is part of a new generation of companies trying to use advanced computing to enhance bioengineering. Previous waves of investment, which is t in the field have often disappointed, as companies have struggled to translate scientific experiments that work in the lab into the large-scale manufacturing processes needed to make them economic.

 

Richard Waters

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