Biomanufacturing technologies – which take modified versions of existing organisms and bend them for human will – have moved from a world of science fiction to becoming a new reality.
At the beginning of the start, companies are launched to create synthetic spider silk, or to make leather changes or meat replacements or new chemicals and drugs.
What all these companies have in common is that they must be able to quickly experiment with different organisms and processes to grow them in order to make their visions work on a commercial scale – and that is where cultural biosciences come in.
The company was founded by two Chapel Hill, NC natives and Duke alums Matthew Ball and Will Patrick. The two met in college at Duke and worked together in Google's famous skunkworks division (then known as Google X).
After leaving Google, Patrick, the company's chief executive, was discontinued at MIT's media laboratory where he was subjected to the work of Gingko Bioworks's biomanufacturing company and was convinced that it would be transformative through the human society.
"I was incredibly inspired by all this, says Patrick." What I noticed was that the problem and the bottleneck in the industry moved from industrial design to upscaling. "
The solution to that bottleneck rested on making the fermentation process more accurate and more controlled, thought Patrick. 19659002] Think of biomanufacturing as a process similar to brewing beer. Organisms sit in soup of goo, eat some things and secrete other things and all this needs to be controlled. It is one thing to be able to control the growth and recovery of goo in a test tube, quite different to make it in the order of a hundred gallons of great thought.
"There are these really challenging aspects of operating bioreactors, sampling and testing and getting data," Patrick says. "We have been able to create this infrastructure that we can scale out. "
The company has built its own hardware – including custom robots, sensors and networks for their bioreactors, which at 250 milliliters, are about the size of coke cans.
"That was the problem we solved with cultural biosciences," says Patrick. "We make cloud fermentation."
The company, which just raised $ 5.5 million from investors, including Refactor Capital, and Verily, the Life Sciences division of Google's parent company, Alphabet, already has 50 bioreactors and is
"What We helps [customers] with making their R&D much more high throughput, "Patrick says.
These customers include companies such as Geltor, the manufacturer of a collagen exchange; Modern Meadow, the company that wants to make a leather change; and Pivot Bio, which makes supplements for agriculture to replace chemical fertilizers.
Certainly and Refactor are not the only two investors who are impressed by the technology of Culture. Section 32, the investment company founded by Google Venture's former CEO Bill Maris, Y Combinator, BoxGroup, Shana Fisher of Third Kind Venture Capital and Data Collective are also investors of the company.
Biobiosciences actually shares office space with Really working from the company's shared office space in South San Francisco, which was built to build startup companies in life sciences.
With the culture, the biomaterial industry and the investors who support it seem to learn one of the critical lessons from the last wave of major investments in biology – in biofuels.
" The first wave of the 21st century, there were many lessons learned," Patrick says. "You have to think with the end in mind. What can these systems actually deliver from a technical perspective? Replicate these large-scale environments as much as possible in your little laboratory … Not having to compete with oil really helps."