Product News: Agilent Makes a $21 Million Strategic Investment in Gen9, Inc., a Pioneer in the Development of Scalable Technologies for Synthesizing Genes

25 Apr 2013

Gen9, Inc., a pioneer in the development of scalable technologies for synthesizing genes, and Agilent Technologies, have announced the closing of a $21 million strategic investment from Agilent in Gen9. Gen9 will use these funds to further invest in product development and to expand the commercial infrastructure for its synthetic biology business. As part of this investment, Agilent has secured an equity stake in the company and will join its board of directors.

Gen9 is a privately held company with a portfolio of next-generation gene synthesis technologies that enable the high-throughput, automated production of DNA constructs at lower cost and higher accuracy than previous methods. Together, these technologies form the foundation of the Gen9 BioFab(r) platform, which has the capacity to synthesize tens of thousands of gene fragments in just a few square feet of laboratory space.

As part of this relationship, Gen9 will incorporate Agilent's Oligonucleotide Library Synthesis (OLS) technology into its manufacturing process to allow for the large-scale creation of pathway constructs and DNA libraries. Agilent's OLS technology is the industry-leading platform for generating high-accuracy oligos. Today, Gen9 is manufacturing and shipping double-stranded GeneBits(tm) DNA constructs, or gene fragments from 500 to 1,024 base pairs long.

"Gen9 was founded to significantly increase the world's capacity to cost-effectively generate high-quality DNA content for use in transforming industries ranging from chemical and enzyme production to agriculture, biofuels, pharmaceuticals, and even data storage," said Kevin Munnelly, president and CEO of Gen9, Inc. "Agilent's investment is a powerful validation of our proprietary BioFab platform and we look forward to working closely with them to further innovate around our manufacturing capabilities and build Gen9 into the leading high-throughput supplier to the synthetic biology marketplace."

"Synthetic DNA constructs have the potential to form the foundation of the next revolution in industrial manufacturing, through biologically constructed machines that can produce materials of high value and complexity. This revolution will only be possible through the ability to routinely synthesize and assemble high-quality, error-free DNA at much greater sequence lengths than are currently available," added Neil Cook, vice president and director, Agilent Laboratories. "We believe that Gen9 has the correct strategy, technology, team, and IP portfolio to complement Agilent's innovations in oligo library synthesis and, working together, we will help realize the promise of synthetic biology."

Agilent's partnership with Gen9 complements the company's existing investments in synthetic biology, gene synthesis and assembly, including further generations of its oligo synthesis technology. Agilent currently produces the highest-quality long DNA compared to that of any commercially available source. In addition, in 2011 Agilent launched a collaborative investment with UC Berkeley's Synthetic Biology Institute as its first Industry Member. Agilent announced an earlier collaborative investment with Harvard University's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering in 2010.

Gen9 was founded in 2009 by Joseph Jacobson (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), George Church (Harvard Medical School) and Drew Endy (Stanford University). Additional Gen9 investors include Draper Fisher Jurvetson, The Kraft Group, PBM Capital Group and a number of angel investors, including Scott A. Schoen and Weili Dai.