Emily Fisher

Synbio Start-ups Need an Average of 7.4 Years to Launch First Chemical Product

Lux Research analysis looks at the historical performance of synthetic biology companies and predicts a new wave of product launches peaking in 2019 to 2020


BOSTON, MA – June 9, 2015 – Synthetic biology start-ups developing technologies to convert biomass and other non-petroleum feedstocks into chemicals and materials need, on average, 7.4 years to launch a product, according to a Lux Research analysis. Using this data to project the output from the current crop of young synbio companies suggests most are likely to launch first products between 2017 and 2022, with a peak occurring between 2019 and 2020.

“While each company’s approach is unique, the lessons learned from the first wave of bio-based materials and chemicals scale-ups and product launches provide valuable insights and lessons,” said Julia Allen, Lux Research Analyst and lead author of the report titled, “Synthetic Biology: Applications and Lessons Learned in the Field of Bio-based Materials and Chemicals.”

“Today’s start-ups still have years to go, but this historical view can give us an early indication of which companies are ahead of the curve and which are behind,” she added.

Lux Research analyzed and quantified the scale-up timelines of 23 synbio companies, and used it to predict the likelihood of today’s youngest startups launching a product. Among their findings:

  • Oakbio, Global Bioenergies are nearing the average time for launches. There is also a crop of companies nearing the peak likelihood of releasing their first product in 2015 and 2016. Watch for scale-up and product announcements from firms like Oakbio and Global Bioenergies as an indicator of whether these companies will keep pace with the industry or fall behind.
  • Nucelis is ahead in the race. Among recent synbio entrants, some firms are set to scale and launch ahead of schedule. Nucelis aims to launch its first product several years ahead of the industry average, while Lygos is tracking to meet the industry’s average for a product launch.
  • Laggards include Kraig Biocraft, Metabolic Explorer. Other companies are behind the industry average in launching their first product, including Kraig Biocraft and Metabolic Explorer. Still, both these groups are at pilot scale, with varying levels of momentum, so some may well break out.

The report, titled “Synthetic Biology: Applications and Lessons Learned in the Field of Bio-based Materials and Chemicals,” is part of the Lux Research Bio-based Materials and Chemicals Intelligence service.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

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