Written By: Subramani (suBBu) Ramachandrappa

Founder, Fermbox Bio


The New Imperative

In the ever-evolving landscape of synthetic biology, the adage ‘WE>I’ has never been more relevant. After riding the wave of startup innovation and investment fervour, we are now facing the reality of a potentially monumental shift in how the industry can evolve.

The future of humanity hinges on biotechnology-driven innovations, set to revolutionize our food, shelter, clothing, health, and access to clean water. Stepping back, it’s clear that synbio aims not just to create new products, but to disrupt supply chains long reliant on animal, plant, or harsh petrochemical materials. Such a transformative shift away from traditional methods is only feasible through large-scale operations.

Imagine if companies perfecting milk proteins through fermentation manage to nail the cost aspect. The environmental benefits and the production scale needed are huge. We’re talking about matching the output of every dairy cow globally and making a significant dent in greenhouse gases, water use, and grain consumption. Achieving this would mean setting up manufacturing sites worldwide, in every country and every region. And this applies to a whole range of biobased materials like dyes, flavours, fragrances, textiles, chemicals, bioplastics, biopolymers and more.

Consider the opportunity size, scale, and impact — the game cannot be won solo!


What is pushing collaborations and partnerships within the landscape?

 The global nature of Synbio

For too long, the biotech industry has looked inward for solutions and capabilities, often resulting in companies reinventing the wheel for each new product. This approach was completely upended during the global COVID crisis — we witnessed unprecedented cooperation across individuals, companies, and countries—not just in developing vaccines but also in manufacturing and administering them.

With the diverse applicability of synbio products and innovations and sky-rocketing demands, experts now pushing for a collaborative approach — emphasizing that meeting this colossal demand exceeds the capacity of any single entity.

Enabling ecosystems

The push for collaboration in synthetic biology underscores a clear fact — reaching the desired scale requires strong enabling mechanisms. There have been many instances of progressive governments, leading the way in terms of enabling policies and incentives like US, Middle East, Southeast Asia and India. For Synbio companies, engaging with regions with supportive policies, conducive to growth and partnerships is key to global success.

For instance, At Fermbox Bio, we have formed partnerships in Southeast Asia, capitalizing on initiatives like the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) for global co-manufacturing. Thailand’s synbio incentives and free trade agreements enhance our competitive advantage in time, cost, and global market access.


The Crucial Role of Collaborative Partnerships

Navigating complex landscape

Navigating the complex landscape of synthetic biology requires a collective approach of diverse players from academia, industry, and cross-sector entities. Why? Because it’s about pooling a vast array of expertise—from molecular biology to process engineering to manufacturing to marketing. This is more than just bringing different skills together — it’s about creating a synergy where each partner’s strength complements the other, optimizing the use of skill sets, pushing the boundaries of innovation.

Scaling Up: The Real Challenge

Getting a bio-based product from an idea to a prototype is a great first step. However, moving from experiments that work in a small lab setup to producing things on an industrial scale is where many projects hit a wall. It’s one thing to create something in small quantities, but replicating that success on a massive scale? That requires a different kind of infrastructure and know-how. Collaborative manufacturing partnerships become essential here. They pool resources, knowledge, and facilities, making it easier to navigate these scaling challenges.

Beyond Technical Hurdles

And it’s not all about the technical stuff — there’s a whole other side to bringing synbio products to life, involving regulatory hoops, environmental and safety frameworks, and breaking into the market — each requiring a specific skill set. Collaborative efforts help share the burden of compliance, tap into collective environmental strategies, and open doors to markets that might be tough to crack solo. It’s about capitalizing shared strengths to reduce risks, cut costs, and speed up the journey from lab bench to marketplace.

Fermbox Bio’s Collaborative Model

Fermbox Bio’s collaborative model is designed to support a business from concept-to-commercialization. It’s all about connecting the dots efficiently.

Leveraging our global network and biomanufacturing expertise, we quickly pinpoint the precise skills needed to expedite project milestones. We help businesses scale production by streamlining processes and navigating regulatory landscapes, focusing on efficiency and compliance.

We bring something different to the table, offering a way to develop products that’s not only scalable and makes financial sense but also lowers the usual risks tied to investing.

Our partnership with Aleph Farms and BBGI Public Company Ltd. is a prime example of how combining different strengths—Aleph Farms’ tech expertise, our scaling know-how, and BBGI’s manufacturing skills—can drive the production of cultivated meat forward. This blend of synthetic biology and biomanufacturing expertise not only moves us closer to sustainable food solutions but also sets a blueprint for turning innovative ideas into practical outcomes through collaborative efforts.


Key Considerations for Successful Partnerships

Reducing risks

Our collaborative model, emphasizing co-development, scale-up, manufacturing, and commercialization, significantly reduces risks and shares benefits, encouraging new entrants into the landscape. I envision global biomanufacturing emerging as a new, attractive asset class, drawing a diverse range of investors as risks diminish, mirroring sectors like power and communications.

Our venture with BBGI, involving a joint investment in retrofitting a traditional ethanol plant for bio-manufacturing, exemplifies this strategy. As the technological lead, Fermbox Bio transforms the facility into a co-investment hub and a versatile manufacturing solution for global innovators, leveraging existing infrastructures for innovation while adhering to environmental standards.

Managing alliances

Dealing with operations that span across borders throws in a curveball. You’ve got to wrestle with intellectual property issues on one side and cultural differences on the other. It boils down to balancing the act of protecting your intellectual property while still promoting a spirit of collaboration. Building long-term partnerships is a strategic move that helps dial down IP-related risks through fostering trust and mutual understanding.

Clear governance structures

With multiple partners involved, aligning objectives and resolving issues swiftly is crucial. Clear governance structures facilitate this by ensuring fair risk and benefit sharing, which motivates all parties to contribute effectively, especially as partnerships diversify.

Future Possibilities

Looking ahead, it’s clear that as technology evolves at an ever-quickening pace, the value of collaborative partnerships in sparking innovation and tackling global issues will only grow.

I am particularly enthusiastic about the development of open innovation platforms specifically designed for synthetic biology. These platforms could serve as vital hubs or platforms where companies, research institutions, and individual innovators can share knowledge, exchange ideas, and embark on joint research endeavours.

Breaking down traditional barriers and nurturing a culture of open collaboration, will spark next-gen innovations and fast-track the conversion of research into tangible solutions. As this sector matures, I foresee a shift towards more equitable and inclusive collaboration models, championing diversity to uncover innovative solutions for the diverse challenges facing our world.

I believe biomanufacturing is set to be a game-changer, not just in paving the way for a more resilient and sustainable future, but also in its potential to unify the world by democratizing access to essential resources like food and biomaterials. Imagine a world where we don’t have to rely on shipping milk powder across oceans to support impoverished communities. Instead, we could help these communities build their own fermentation plants — making a meaningful difference in the global landscape.


The future of synthetic biology industry is transformative!