Biotalk Episode 6: A Conversation with Jason Kelly

On this episode of Biotalk, Locust Walk’s Andy Meyerson welcomes Jason Kelly, co-Founder and CEO of Ginkgo Bioworks, to the podcast. Ginkgo Bioworks is at the forefront of genetic engineering, harnessing its power to craft bacteria with industrial applications, which in turn aids other biotech enterprises by eliminating the need to replicate initial stages of synthetic biology design. Jason delves into Ginkgo’s inception story, the distinctive contours of its business model, its unique role as a Contract Research Organization (CRO), and addresses the paramount challenges currently confronting the biotech industry. 

We invite you to tune in to this engaging podcast episode. Subscribe or follow Biotalk on Apple Podcasts | Spotify.  


1:23: What attracted you to our industry and what made you want to become a biotech entrepreneur?  

3:10: While in graduate school at MIT, you founded the company, which is intended to help promote the sharing of information, know-how and wisdom among researchers and groups who are working in biology and biological engineering. What motivated you to start this company?

5:07: How did OpenWetWare fit into the timeline that ultimately resulted in the establishment of Gingko? 

11:18: Gingko is pursuing a business model that is atypical for a biotech where you do not have any of your own development candidates advancing in the clinic. Why did you pursue this path rather than developing your own drugs? 

15:14: Does this instead make you more like a Contract Research Organization (CRO) than a traditional biotech?  How do you differentiate between the two in your own mind? 

17:52: What does scale mean to you? What drives Gingko’s growth if it isn’t valued on develop candidates like other biotechs 

22:08: A challenge in biotech is actually identifying who your customer actually is. Who is your customer?

29:14: What are your thoughts on the other platform companies, and how disruptive do you become to the traditional biotech business model?

33:23: How has the biotech market downturn impacted your business? 

38:15: At Locust Walk, we believe that dislocations are a great way to spot opportunityWhat would you say are the kinds of opportunities that are revealing themselves to you as the industry goes through a little bit of a struggle?

40:55: What do you believe is the biggest and most important issue currently facing the industry?