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Ginkgo Bioworks opens production site for custom cells

Ginkgo Bioworks Inc. on Thursday will open a new 18,000-square-foot production facility near its South Boston headquarters to custom-design living cells for food, fragrances, and cosmetics.

The company, founded in 2008, raised $100 million earlier this year to expand its business of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing organisms through genetic engineering. Starting with brewers yeast, Ginkgo has developed a process to alter genes from vanilla, rose oil, mint, and other flowers or plants to produce flavors and scents used in food or cosmetic products.

Ginkgo chief executive Jason Kelly said about 75 of the company’s 110 employees will work in the new foundry, which is being called Bioworks 2. He said the company, which now makes about 40 organisms for 20 customers, will focus initially on food, consumer goods, and industrial products. But its technology eventually could be used for drug making, he said..


“We see an economy of scale,” Kelly said in an interview. “As we do more of this genetic engineering, it gets cheaper.”

Robert Weisman can be reached at robert.weisman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeRobW.