New Market Report Finds Near-Boundless Opportunity in Synthetic Biology

A new U.S. thematic market report* titled “Mission Possible: How Synbio Can Drive Sustainability & Disrupt Manufacturing” from Barclays’ Equity Research team shines a spotlight on the tremendous potential their analysts see in the Synthetic Biology field. The in-depth report reviews the broad-ranging impact of SynBio as well as the latest investment.

“Synthetic biology underpins some of the biggest manufacturing disruptions across sectors, yet its role could be flying under the radar of investors,” analysts at Barclays write in the report, which is designed to help investors understand the breadth of opportunity available to them. “But while it may have been building like a slow wave, against a backdrop of heightened focus on sustainability and related ESG targets, synthetic biology is now poised to bring many innovations to shore.”

One of the reasons the analysts are optimistic is that synthetic biology touches so many diverse market sectors. “Synbio already plays a major role in the healthcare industry, has shown promise in the energy industry, and is becoming more prevalent in the consumer arena,” they write. “Synbio processes can unlock access to hard-to-source, if not novel, products, help reduce carbon emissions from supply chains, be designed to scale, and have the potential to reach or beat cost parity with current processes.”

The report focuses heavily on what synthetic biology can offer the consumer realm. Analysts note that these opportunities include replacing or enhancing current ingredients, developing ingredients that enable novel products, and creating entirely new molecules. “What it boils down to is that if scientists can program DNA like software engineers can program computers,” they write, “then from a scientific perspective synthetic biology can be used to manufacture a seemingly infinite number of potential outputs.”

The analysts note that technology development has played a key role in expanding the opportunity in synthetic biology. They credit new genetic engineering tools such as CRISPR for helping to create an environment where the impact of synthetic biology can be much more significant than it was even a decade ago.

“If the last century was characterized by the industrial revolution, we think this century will be shaped by the synthetic biology/built-by-biology revolution,” the team reports. Regardless of which consumer products (or other synthetic biology-enabled products) strike it big, the analysts add, “the key is that they will all be supplied by life sciences tools companies.” (We were delighted to see Inscripta profiled in this report as one of the tools companies they see as the foundation of this space!)

Of course, the analysts do caution about challenges that lie ahead. They focused on a handful, including achieving necessary scale, convincing conventional manufacturers to switch to new suppliers with different cost structures, gaining acceptance from consumers, navigating an uncertain regulatory landscape, and closing remaining gaps in sustainable production. With that said, though, the team writes, “We believe synthetic biology’s more pervasive role in consumer manufacturing is a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if.’”

*contact Barclays Research to access the full report