Challenge

The Bayer LifeScience Center aims to uncover, encourage and activate breakthroughs by creating and building new companies together with entrepreneurial best-in-class partners, such as Ginkgo Bioworks for synthetic biology. The new company will focus on the plant microbiome. Improving the microbes’ ability to make nitrogen fertilizer available for plants offers a major potential benefit to sustainable agriculture.

Approach

When the Bayer LifeScience Center showed interest in teaming with Ginkgo Bioworks to create a new, innovative company, Ginkgo turned to Goodwin to help make the vision a reality. Led by its Life Sciences team, Goodwin assembled a cross-practice, cross-office collective to develop an agreement between Ginkgo and Bayer to create a new company focused on the plant microbiome. The deal provides a Series A investment of $100 million by its parent companies and Viking Global Investors LP.  In addition to the initial investment, Ginkgo will provide exclusive access to its technology, laboratory and office spaces, and will build a new facility exclusively for the new company.

Outcome

The new company, which will operate out of Ginkgo’s Boston Seaport facility, will focus on technologies to improve plant-associated microbes with a major focus on nitrogen fixation. “The plant microbiome is one of the next frontiers in sustainable agriculture,” said Axel Bouchon, Head of the Bayer Life Science Center. “And it may enable us to take a major leap in plant physiology: producing nitrogen fertilizer directly in the plant. We are excited to combine state-of-the-art plant science and leading microbial technology to help tackle this challenge. With Ginkgo we have found the best-in-class partner to achieve this fundamental breakthrough.”