I was living in the Bay Area towards the end of the last millennium when this new, exciting thing called the internet was captivating us all. Then, a fairly steep recession and likely a variety of other factors led to a popping of the tech bubble. It almost felt like the end of the internet at the time, that there was little way to monetize this electronic mail concept and business card style websites. Leading to this downturn, significant infrastructure had been installed, including laying down trans-oceanic fiber optic cables. The direct consequence would be that an English-speaking country, with very low-wage labor force = (India) was unlocked. The world became “flat” as Thomas Friedman described, and the second run of the internet transformation got underway, with outsourcing becoming a major component for technology development.
We find ourselves in a relatively similar position today with industrial biotechnology - albeit with longer time lines. Many of us, including KnipBio’s management team and scientists, “grew up” in the cellulosic biofuel and biochemical era. Oil peaked to $140/bbl and energy insecurity concerns over conflicts in the Middle East were major drivers of this movement. Then, a steep decline in this sector ensued due to low-cost, abundant energy (i.e. fracking) coming online, effectively eliminating the market need for 2nd generation biofuels.
I believe we have entered into this second phase of industrial biotechnology where we can leverage the existing talent, repurpose existing facilities, and take advantage of the massively reduced cost for DNA synthesis. The most successful biotech companies of the future will build on the success of those that came before them by learning the lessons of previous technology cycles. This will require a cultural shift away from “build-own-operate-alone”, but will ultimately lead to the reduction of time and cost to market due to these orders of efficiencies.
KnipBio has adopted this philosophy and expects to embrace it further in the near-term. While we consider ourselves on the forefront of biotechnology development, we clearly stand on the shoulders of those that came before us to solve the many real problems of animal nutrition and food (in)security. Learning from the previous tech example, we can leverage existing infrastructure in many of the same ways. We can avoid redundancy and take advantage of possible synergies in the form of partnerships. For example, specialized knowledge like animal nutrition, using 3rd party manufacturing to avoid large initial capital outlays and collaborate with major global corporations to align commercial roll out strategies.