The Israel Innovation Authority will fund the first synthetic biology applied R&D infrastructure in Israel
The funding will be a total of around NIS 18 million during the first year, and the project will be carried out in collaboration with HyLabs and the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya. The total budget is expected to reach NIS 40 million subject to the project achieving its pre-defined targets.
The company will be supported by a scientific advisory committee, including world leaders in the area of synthetic biology, from both the academia and industry.
Minister of Innovation, Science and Technology, Orit Farkash-Hacohen: “It is not by chance that the field of synthetic biology attracts the best scientists and entrepreneurs in the world. Embedded within it are economic, entrepreneurial and scientific opportunities, as well as fundamental ethical and existential questions which we must take on as a country. I see the role of the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology to invest in and assimilate technological infrastructure, both physical and human, in the most advanced and attractive fields, so that the State of Israel is a source of innovation and accomplishment in the future of international technology, thus developing and attracting the best scientists and entrepreneurs. I empower the work of the Israel Innovation Authority and support their activities to significantly advance innovative R&D infrastructure in new fields.”
Dror Bin, Israel Innovation Authority CEO: “After a year of extensive research, the authority identified synthetic biology as an innovative infrastructural field based on broad multidisciplinary ground-breaking knowledge in academia, which enables the advancement of the Bio-Convergence industry in Israel and the development of new companies in the field. To this effect, we decided that the time was right and it was important to move quickly. For this reason, we have assembled a team of experts to define the activities and guidelines required to establish a synthetic biological infrastructure company in Israel.”
Today (Sunday), the Israel Innovation Authority announces its decision to fund the establishment of the first synthetic biological infrastructure company in Israel. Synthetic biology is one of the core disciplines of Bio-Convergence and includes multiple approaches, methodologies and disciplines focused on engineering, computerization and biology. This field focuses on providing solutions to complicated problems which require multidisciplinary knowledge, by shaping and building biological devices and systems used by people and society – for example by designing microorganisms and biological molecules (such as, RNA and proteins) as a basis for diagnostic tools, vaccinations and new medicines, solutions for alternative energy, new materials (like flavourings), and also the development of complete bio-sensors and biological chips' systems.
Heading the new infrastructure company are:
Dr. Roni Cohen, CEO: For the last 11 years Cohen was the VP of Hylabs Service Laboratories. Cohen has a doctorate in microbiology and biochemistry from the Hebrew University, and a postdoc from the University of Wisconsin in Madison.
Dr. Neta Agmon, VP of Technology: Dr. Agmon, who specializes in genetic engineering and yeast expression, served as Lead Scientist at the synthetic biology company Neo-chromosome in New York. Dr. Agamon has a doctorate from the University of Tel Aviv and a postdoc from John Hopkins University. Since completing her doctorate she has been a contributing author to nine scientific publications.
Dr. Yuval Dorfman, Director of Scientific Technological Operations at the IDC site: Dr. Dorfman has a doctorate in electronic engineering and specializes in developing bio-sensory networks, automation and integrating electro-optics with biological systems. Dorfman has around 20 years of experience in the high-tech and biotech industries, in senior professional and management roles, including Israel Aerospace Industries, Intel, Applied Materials, and start-ups at different stages of operation.
Dr. Yonatan Giron, Synthetic Biology Project Establishment Manager for at the IDC site: Dr. Giron has experience in DNA technologies, developing tools for tissue engineering, and combining synthetic biology with neurone engineering, electrophysiology and virtual reality. He has a doctorate in nanotechnology and nerve engineering.
Dr. Ortal Shimon, Technological Scientific Operations Manager at the Rehovot site: Dr. Shimon specializes in advanced moleculare biology and completed her postdoctoral training in the chemistry of drugs at Bar-Ilan University. Shimon has a doctorate in biochemistry.
A number of strategic partners have expressed an interest in joining this initiative. These partners include Ginkgo Bioworks, one of the synthetic biology pioneers in the United States, as well as other companies such as Elbit and GFI Israel.
The equipment, which will form the basis of the company’s services, will be divided between the Herzliya and Rehovot sites, including a module for executing various syntheses and optimizations of expression systems, calibration methods, product cleaning and specification, and a module for functional analysis, scanning of metabolic pathways, protein production, intercellular interactions, cell imaging and more. This equipment will be located at HyLabs in Rehovot, along with existing equipment in the company’s inventory as well as new equipment which will soon be purchased. A module based on computational and bioinformatical biology, and a module for preparation for production and production planning (scale-up), fermentation, and a transition to real environmental conditions, will be located at the IDC site in Herzliya.
HyLabs has an existing quality assurance system and extensive experience in adherence to international procedures and standardization. The company’s intention is to apply these standards to the new company’s services as much as possible, including relevant services that will be provided by the units located at the IDC site.