Amyris, Inc. announced a multi-year Technology Investment Agreement (TIA) worth up to $35 million with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Biological Technologies Office to create new research and development tools and technologies that will significantly reduce the time and cost of bringing new molecules to market. Amyris has chosen five specialized subcontractors to assist in achieving these innovations.
According to DARPA, its focus in working with industrial biotechnology companies is to solicit competitively “innovative proposals to develop new tools, technologies and methodologies” to create new capabilities in biotech. The tools and infrastructure developed through DARPA-funded efforts are expected to enable the rapid and scalable development of transformative defense-relevant products and systems that are currently too complex to access.
Among these efforts is a focus on development of next-generation tools and technologies with the goal of compressing the time to market for any new molecule by at least 10-fold in both time and cost. Amyris will leverage its current and planned infrastructure to generate commercial-scale amounts of hundreds of new molecules of relevance to DARPA’s Living Foundries program. These molecules are anticipated to include chemical building blocks for accessing radical new materials that are impossible to create with traditional petroleum-based feedstocks.
Beyond the anticipated industry-wide advancements to be made, this effort is expected to expand Amyris’s research activities across multiple new organisms, add hundreds of new molecules from multiple pathways to Amyris’s production portfolio, and integrate several advanced technologies into Amyris’s strain improvement pipeline.
Amyris considers this agreement to be important to the company in that it is expected to:
Enable the taking of numerous molecules from concept to commercialization in significantly less time and at lower cost.
Diversify the company’s portfolio of host organisms and molecule classes.
Enable the development and integration of innovative new technologies into the company’s strain improvement pipeline including significant advances in analytics, automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence, “big data” analysis, and human-machine interaction to solve complex biological problems.
Enable simultaneous scale-up of hundreds of molecules with a wide array of end-market applications.
Establish the company as a key contributor to the development of a true bioeconomy that routinely uses biology to supply useful molecules from abundant, plant-derived feedstocks without impacting the world’s food supply.
Position the company to pursue a much broader array of additional collaborations—beyond its historical scope—to co-develop game-changing technology improvements across a variety of specialty chemicals and materials.
The announcement of the agreement follows an earlier $8-million TIA with DARPA, announced by Amyris in June 2012, for the development of tools to expand the scope of Amyris’s industrial synthetic biology technology platform across various biological platforms and cell types.