Waste continues to provide a rich seam of opportunities with the launch of Allonnia, a bioremediation company equipped with $40 million in Series A funding to find new answers to the growing challenge of its management using synbio. The company spunout from industry pioneers Ginkgo Bioworks will aim to tackle some of the planet’s most pressing waste pollution challenges, including industrial wastewater treatment, soil remediation, and solid waste management and upcycling.
One of the company’s first areas of focus will be on per- and poly-fluorinated compounds including PFAS, PFOA, and PFOS. These compounds are known as “forever chemicals” because they do not degrade and can persist in the environment for decades, contaminating soil and ground water and even making their way into human bloodstreams. Existing processes for treating forever chemicals require high energy consumption and chemical use, and still only sequester or landfill the contaminant rather than removing it from the environment entirely.
Allonnia is backed by Ginkgo Bioworks who regularly feature on our pages, Battelle, General Atlantic, Cascade Investment, and Viking Global Investors. Allonnia is the first company to launch from the Ferment Consortium, Ginkgo Bioworks’ investment vehicle for leveraging synthetic biology to solve global challenges and transform established industries.
Allonnia ( @allonniabio ) will be spearheaded by Nicole Richards, joining as CEO (effective immediately). She brings over 28 years of industry experience leading business strategy, sales, and marketing initiatives within water treatment, mining and industrial chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and more. Most recently, she served as Growth, Strategy and M&A Director—Water Solutions at DuPont. Prior to that, she served as Global Director at Solvay, a science company focused on developing sustainability solutions within materials, chemicals, and solutions.
“Waste pollution is quickly becoming one of the most pivotal environmental issues impacting both public and planetary health, and I’m thrilled to be joining a company focused on solving these critical challenges in new ways,” said Nicole Richards, Allonnia’s CEO. “Our ultimate goal is to accelerate the R&D process for biological treatment solutions across the board, picking up where chemical and mechanical solutions have reached their maximum impact. With the support, expertise and backing from Ginkgo and our investors, I feel confident that Allonnia can drive transformational change within the water and waste management industries.”
“We started the Ferment Consortium because we believe that with the right partners and funding, biology can progress solutions to urgent challenges. Investing in Allonnia is a perfect fit for that mission, and we’re incredibly fortunate to have Nicole at the company’s helm. Her knowledge and credibility will be invaluable in helping Allonnia quickly bring innovative environmental solutions to market,” said Jason Kelly ( @jrkelly ) , CEO and co-founder of Ginkgo Bioworks ( @Ginkgo ) . “As one of biology’s fundamental roles in nature is to break things down, there is a huge diversity of microbes and enzymes that can clean up waste. This application of biology represents both an enormous market and a worldwide environmental challenge.”
Allonnia aims to change the current trajectory of waste management and will leverage Ginkgo’s platform, as well as recent advances in protein engineering and cell design, to develop microbial and enzymatic solutions that destroy environmental contaminants. To further global efforts to establish fully circular and closed-loop systems, Allonnia also aims to recover and upcycle critical elements found in waste streams such as manufacturing waste, catalyst recovery, and electronic componentry. Many of these materials are difficult to mine and costly to recycle using traditional methods. Allonnia will design biological processes to specifically and selectively recover valuable elements in complex waste streams to make them reusable for future manufacturing processes.
“Synthetic biology is the next frontier for innovation, and one of the most important areas where it has the potential to transform an industry is environmental remediation,” said Matt Vaughan, Battelle President of Contract Research. “The Allonnia team’s expertise, with the foundation of Ginko’s capabilities, perfectly complements Battelle’s decades of bioremediation research and successful commercial experience to bring this next wave of waste treatment technologies to fruition.”
The launch of Allonnia – the third operating company to spin out of Ginkgo, following Joyn Bio and Motif Foodworks – comes on the heels of a big year for the company, including closing a $290m Series E funding and hosting the second annual Ferment meeting to bring together scientists, investors, and industry leaders. The Ferment Consortium utilizes Ginkgo’s foundry for biological engineering, iterative codebase model, and extensive network of industry partners and investors to launch new companies with the potential to disrupt established markets. Allonnia will be headquartered in Ginkgo’s facility in the Seaport district of Boston.
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