Manufacturing Merck and Ginkgo Forge $490 Million Partnership to Enhance...

Merck and Ginkgo Forge $490 Million Partnership to Enhance Biologics Manufacturing Efficiency


Merck has solidified a substantial collaboration valued at $490 million with Ginkgo Bioworks, aimed at revolutionizing the landscape of biologics manufacturing. This new venture comes on the heels of their prior partnership in October, which saw a $144 million deal enhancing Merck’s active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) manufacturing prowess. Building on the success of their previous collaboration, Ginkgo, headquartered in Boston, has revealed their renewed alliance with Merck, signifying a joint commitment to advancing the realms of pharmaceutical innovation.

Last year’s partnership had honed in on a pioneering biocatalysis project orchestrated to modernize Merck’s API production. Now, the scope has expanded, with Ginkgo extending their expertise in process optimization, ultra-high-throughput multiplexed screening capabilities, cell engineering, and protein characterization platforms to Merck. A key highlight of Ginkgo’s offerings lies in their renowned cell programming platform, adding a transformative edge to the collaboration.

In return for their contributions, Ginkgo is poised to reap substantial financial benefits, with the agreement encompassing diverse forms of compensation. This includes remuneration for option licensing, meeting crucial commercial milestones, as well as upfront research fees and research milestone payments.

The primary objective of this partnership orbits around bolstering Merck’s biologics output and refining manufacturing efficiency. Dr. Michael Kress, Senior Vice-President at Merck Research Laboratories Development Sciences and Clinical Supply, emphasized the company’s constant pursuit of innovative pathways to optimize processes while preserving product integrity. He expressed eagerness in expanding their rapport with the Ginkgo Bioworks team.

Likewise, Jason Kelly, CEO and Co-founder of Ginkgo, echoed this sentiment, expressing satisfaction in leveraging their platforms to elevate Merck’s biologics production. Kelly affirmed his team’s enthusiasm for collaboratively propelling impactful and groundbreaking endeavors within the sector.

The previous collaboration centered on enhancing Merck’s active pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturing, focusing on up to four enzymes. Ginkgo harnessed its biocatalytic enzyme platform for this endeavor. This venture, however, only constitutes a fraction of Ginkgo’s recent engagements. Notably, the company initiated a partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim in May, aiming to pioneer innovative therapies for challenging-to-treat diseases.

Ginkgo’s busy summer has been further augmented by their contract with the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). This agreement, predicted to inject approximately $18 million into Ginkgo’s coffers, underscores the company’s diversified and impactful portfolio.

Ginkgo’s collaboration roster also extends to other notable entities, such as Select, Optimvia, Biogen, Aldevron, and Novo Nordisk. Of particular significance is their multi-year contract with Novo Nordisk, a strategic initiative designed to expedite product development and harness the full potential of Ginkgo’s innovative systems.

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