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Ginkgo unveils its stock ticker, a biotech venture fund raises $515m, and a unicorn is born

Jason Kelly, cofounder and chief executive of Ginkgo Bioworks.
Jason Kelly, cofounder and chief executive of Ginkgo Bioworks.Scott Eisen/Bloomberg

Here’s a roundup of five local life-science deals and fundraising events that people are talking about this week.

Ginkgo Bioworks

After announcing a $17.5 billion merger with a SPAC (blank check company) earlier this week, Ginkgo Bioworks on Friday (finally) unveiled its stock ticker as it plans to go public: “DNA.” The biotech explained in a Twitter thread why it chose the ticker, which was first used by Genentech before it was acquired, and why it decided against more obvious trading symbols, such as “GKGO” or “CELL.”

Ginkgo wants to make the universal infrastructure for synthetic biology — think Amazon Web Services or the App Store, but for programming cells. Chief executive Jason Kelly said this week that computers transformed the information industries, such as media, advertising, and finance, but “what they didn’t disrupt: hamburgers.” With cell programming, Ginkgo can make cells produce new proteins, scents, or antibiotics, which he said has the potential to impact the food, cosmetics, and drug industries.


Speaking of the food industry, a Flagship Pioneering-backed agriculture startup raised $208 million this week, bringing its total venture capital haul to more than $350 million. The Boston Business Journal first reported that investors now value the company at more than $1 billion, giving it “unicorn” status.


Founded in 2016, Inari says it is focused on “unlocking the full potential of seed,” by engineering the genome of seeds so that they produce crops more efficiently. The goal: to make more food with less space and resources. The round was co-led by Flagship and involved existing investors Alexandria Venture Investments and Investment Corporation of Dubai, among others. G Squared and Pavilion Capita joined the round as new investors.


The Cambridge biotech working on precision cancer drugs said Wednesday that it has raised another $135 million in venture capital, just four months after the firm launched. The startup is developing lung cancer drugs that rely on enzyme blockers known as kinase inhibitors to help keep cancer cells from growing. Nuvalent hopes to use the new cash to advance two potential drugs into clinical trials.


Perceptive Xontogeny Venture Fund II

New York-based investment management firm Perceptive Advisors and Boston-based biotech accelerator Xontogeny announced on Wednesday that they raised $515 million for their second early-stage venture capital fund. The funds are led by Xontogeny chief executive Chris Garabedian, who was previously chief executive of Sarepta Therapeutics.


Waltham-based diagnostics maker PerkinElmer said on Thursday that it has agreed to buy a Lawrence-based firm, Nexcelom Bioscience, that makes automated cell-counting instruments for $260 million in cash.

Jonathan Saltzman of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

Anissa Gardizy can be reached at anissa.gardizy@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @anissagardizy8.