If you thought that the development of new manufacturing materials, adhesives, pharmaceuticals and stuff was done by white-coat scientists mixing different chemicals in a laboratory, Zymergen is taking a very different path. The 600-person Bay Area biotechnology company is leading the field in the development of new compounds, from yeasts to plastics to drugs, using genetically engineered microbes, or ‘bugs’ as their CEO calls them.
In fact, Zymgergen cofounder and CEO Joshua Hoffman says one of the biggest opportunities before his now 600-person company is to produce entirely new products that are untethered to traditional petroleum-based manufacturing, which currently underpins nearly everything we use and own, from gas to golf bags, from dishwasher parts to dresses.
As it relates to OLEDs, for example, Hoffman notes that “current petrochemical-derived films don’t work as well as they should. They’re too blue, or they scratch, or they de-laminate and the screen comes apart. The problems are rooted in their core chemistry. But biology gives you whole palette with which to create films, adhesives, and coatings.”