Biomanufactured Materials are Coming

Startups that source performance biomaterials and integrate them into products are a largely untapped pathway to market.

Biomanufacturing is the use of biological systems that have been engineered, or that are used outside their natural context, to make a product. It is enabled by synthetic biology (synbio), an interdisciplinary domain that involves the application of engineering principles to biology.

From this, biomanufactured materials refers to materials produced using engineered biological systems. Examples of biological systems include submerged, solid state or gas fermentation using engineered microbes, cell-free systems using enzymes as catalysts and finally mammalian cell cultures. Note: when I mention fermentation or microbial fermentation in this piece, it means submerged unless stated otherwise.

Biomanufactured materials is a mouthful, so I use ‘biomaterials’ for short. Just be warned that this term is also used to describe any material that can interact with biology, like prosthetics or other material therapeutics.

So biomaterials it is. Let’s now build towards the case for biomaterials by looking at some important developments in biomanufacturing and synbio in the last few decades. These developments underpin what is happening now with biomaterials and are ongoing tailwinds for the future of the space. I’ll focus more on microbial fermentation, but there’s also rapid progress in improving solid state and gas fermentation, as well as cell-free systems.

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