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Synthetic biology firm Zymergen raises $500 million in IPO

Public sale of stock comes soon after launch of its first product, a polymer film for electronic displays

by Melody M. Bomgardner
May 2, 2021 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 99, Issue 16

Photo shows a Zymergen employee examining a section of Hyaline polymer film.
Credit: Zymergen
A Zymergen employee examines a section of Hyaline polymer film.

Zymergen, an Emeryville, California–based synthetic biotechnology and manufacturing firm, has raised $500 million in an initial public offering (IPO) of stock on the NASDAQ exchange that values the 8-year-old company at over $3 billion.

The move comes about 4 months after Zymergen launched its first product, Hyaline, a polymer film for electronic displays that it developed with Sumitomo Chemical. Zymergen makes the film from a biobased monomer it produces from sugar using a modified microbe.

In September 2020, Zymergen raised $300 million from investors on the basis of its product pipeline and partners, bringing its total funding from private investors to over $870 million. The company has other high-performance films and consumer products such as an insect repellent on the way. And it is working with FMC to discover natural products for crop protection.

Priorities for the money from the IPO include investment in Zymergen’s highly automated labs for materials discovery and microbe engineering, as well as in facilities for scale-up and manufacturing, Zach Serber, its chief science officer, tells C&EN. The company is now scaling up production of Hyaline at a contract manufacturing facility in Japan, though so far it has not reported meaningful revenues from product sales.

A combination of factors led to the decision to go public, according to Serber. “Our platform is ready, and we have a product in the market and our customers love it,” he says. “Our pipeline of products is strong and growing.” At the same time, he adds, “biotechnology and manufacturing require capital and liquidity.”



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