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Climate change isn’t just a single threat - it dramatically increases the likelihood of natural disasters, drought, food security, and deadly heat waves. It also drives dramatic shifts in our ecosystem from ocean acidification to air pollution. Climate tech aims to solve our biggest environmental challenges and mitigate –or even reverse– the effects of climate change. ‍ 

What is synthetic biology’s role in combating climate change directly? How can biology help restore natural ecosystems and carbon sinks? Can we capture more CO2 with microbes and make food and fuel out of pollution? Synthetic biology is poised to be a powerful climate tech tool for protecting our planet.

We put together a list of everything you need to know about Climate Tech & Environment, and the major developments in the last year. Join the discussion at SynBioBeta 2023: The Global Synthetic Biology Conference May 23 - 25, and the track dedicated to this topic.

This newsletter is brought to you by Ginkgo Bioworks, a leading horizontal platform for cell programming, providing flexible, end-to-end services that solve challenges for organizations across diverse markets, from food and agriculture to pharmaceuticals to industrial and specialty chemicals.

  • Using Machine Learning and Synthetic Biology to Combat Climate Change: As climate change accelerates, synthetic biology enhanced by machine learning and automation could provide disruptive capabilities that would allow bioengineering to make a difference in the worldwide struggle to halt or even reverse climate change.

  • Cemvita Is Fighting Climate Change with Synthetic Biology: CEO Moji Karimi explains how the Houston-based biotech firm generates economical low-carbon solutions that net climate-positive results.

  • Synbio: The Game Changer for Climate Tech: One company that is looking towards the future with a climate-centric mission is Ginkgo Bioworks. Dubbed "the organism company," Ginkgo works on crop-colonizing microbes for sustainable agricultural practices. More recently, they are reimagining the food production system. Motif FoodWorks, powered by Ginkgo, creates meat, dairy, and plant-based proteins by fermentation instead of animal agriculture. Another company that is combating the climate crisis through its newly engineered products is Genomatica, which is leading the transition of nylon—a giant $22 billion annual industry—from fossil fuels to plants and received Lululemon’s first-ever equity investment in a sustainable materials company.

Ginkgo co-founder Reshma Shetty, an iGEMer, was one of the speakers at the 2019 iGEM Giant Jamboree. Source: iGEM

  • Synthetic Biology for Climate Action: Ginkgo Bioworks recently hosted a virtual event with several key thought leaders in the world of synthetic biology for climate tech. The panelists discussed carbon fixation and sequestration pathways, manufacturing scale up, and new business models for carbon capture. You can check out the recording of the main stage above or on Ginkgo’s YouTube channel.

  • Synthetic biology: Potential game changer for climate change adaptation in Africa. Celia Tebandeke Nalwadda discusses examples of ongoing synbio innovations that could potentially contribute to improving the climate change adaptive capacity of communities in Africa.

  • As of April 2021, the SOSV Climate Tech 100 have raised $1.85 billion from investors and have a market cap of $5.65 billion. The average company is four years old. SOSV has invested $89 million in these companies and was in most cases the first investor, though they continued investing through early rounds. 

  • Ucaneo: "We are convinced that synthetic biology will play a key role in mitigating climate change" Founded in 2022, the start-up Ucaneo has a big vision: "Climate change is a global problem and needs to be tackled at scale. Our mission is to capture 0.5 gigatonnes of global CO2 emissions from the air by 2035," says Florian Tiller, co-founder and CEO of Ucaneo Biotech GmbH. To achieve that, the company is building the world’s first cell-free Direct Air Capture technology, leveraging a biocatalytic membrane to capture CO2  from the air.

  • Synthetic bio investing with Exponential Impact, Ep #11. Michael Luciani & Jenny Kan of Exponential Impact, a new climate venture fund, share how frontier technology companies, especially synthetic biology, can provide radically effective solutions for climate change.

In case you missed it:

C16 Biosciences founders in the company’s office in Manhattan, NY.

Biomason scientists discover strains and develop novel biocement® applications at Biomason headquarters in Research Triangle Park, NC.

Charles Dimmler (co-founder and CEO of Checkerspot) on the left, and Scott Franklin (scientific co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer) on the right. Credit: Erika Dimmler, Checkerspot.

Climate Tech Track at SynBioBeta:

Here are some of the sessions that we are planning:

  • Bringing Bioremediation to Life

  • Green-Collar Jobs: Retraining Manufacturing Workforces

  • Can Gas Fermentation Solve the Looming Feedstock Crisis?

  • Can Bio Successfully Decarbonize Heavy Industry?

  • Carbon capture and utilization 

  • Climate investing 

  • Energy & Biofuel 

  • Environmental Remediation / Air / Water 

  • Climate Policy

Related Sponsors

We hope you enjoyed this Climate Tech & Environment wrap up newsletter and I hope that you’ll choose to join us in May at SynBioBeta 2023: The Global Synthetic Biology Conference.

Register now



John Cumbers
Founder, SynBioBeta

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