Guest Column | June 9, 2023

The Global Landscape For Synthetic Biology In Biopharma Through 2035

By Aashi Mishra, Research Nester


Synthetic biology is an integrative field of science that involves redesigning the genetic material of organisms — such as viruses, bacteria, yeast, plants, or animals — to have specific functional characteristics. Synthetic biology offers a lot of potential for drug discoveries and biopharma companies with processes like protein engineering and genetic engineering. It has opened a plethora of efficient and effective medical treatment possibilities. The incorporation of synthetic biology techniques into the drug discovery process has created new therapeutic approaches and improved the existing ones.

Synthetic biology is increasingly deployed to develop cell-based therapies and vaccines and improve the stability, solubility, and binding affinity of proteins. Synthetic biology in drug discovery has been applied in the following ways:

  • Drug Target Identification and Deconvolution: Scientists start from a known function to arrive at the molecules involved in the function for identifying drug targets. This is called target deconvolution. Synthetic biology provides new tools for the complex chemical and microbiological assays required to locate the specific molecule for the targeted function.
  • Biosynthesizing Natural Products: Microorganisms can be efficiently engineered to produce natural products such as antibiotics and anticancer agents with the help of synthetic biology. This process can be complicated and expensive using chemical engineering or by relying on rare plants.
  • Target Discovery: Synthetic biology engineers cells to express various genes or specific proteins that interact with potential drugs for targeted results.
  • Genetic Circuits: Synthetic biology can efficiently design genetic circuits, also called metabolic engineering, that can sense and respond to various signals in the body. These signals — such as disease markers or environmental cues — can trigger the production and release of therapeutic molecules.
  • Cell-based Therapies: Synthetic biology can facilitate the engineering of cells to perform specific therapeutic functions or modify cells to enhance their ability to target specific tissues or cells.

According to our new market research, in 2022, the global synthetic biology market was valued at ~$12 billion and is expected to grow at a robust CAGR of 26% during the forecast period of 2023-2035, reaching ~$43 billion by 2035. Let’s look more closely at some of the key market insights.

Market Opportunities

The following are potential opportunities driving the growth of the synthetic biology market.

  • Rising Demand for Safe and Effective Biopharmaceuticals: With the growing population, increasing geriatric ratio, and growing health disorders in various age groups, there is a huge demand for safe and effective drugs and vaccines. As the pandemic struck, and the race for the COVID-19 vaccine intensified, synthetic biology facilitated the use of genomic data from the virus for the development of vaccines that substantially altered the course of the pandemic. By 2020, 70% of the world’s population had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine with 13.38 billion doses being administered globally.
  • Growing Prevalence of Chronic and Debilitating Health Disorders: Chronic health concerns such as cancer and HIV need potentially effective cures or symptom-management drugs. As per the National Library of Medicine, human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) has been the cause of one of the greatest global public health crises. It’s estimated that the HIV/AIDS pandemic has already claimed 40 million human lives in the past decades, 35 million people are living with HIV-1 infection, and around 2.4 million people worldwide are infected each year with the disease. The growing urgency for the development of a conditionally replicating HIV-1 vaccine is leading scientists to use the synthetic biology approach for it.
  • Technological Advancements: Discoveries related to DNA synthesis, genome editing, and other key technologies have opened new opportunities for synthetic biology in a wide range of applications including drug discovery and biopharmaceuticals. The global DNA synthesis market is expected to reach ~$7 billion by 2032, up from $3 billion in 2022.
  • Private and Government Support: Governments around the world have been making substantial investments in synthetic biology research and development for driving economic growth and addressing societal challenges related to healthcare and sustainability. For instance, in every major breakthrough related to cancer prevention, detection, and treatment, the research funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has played a vital role. Apart from that, cancer research is privately funded, too, by NGOs through grants and allowances. Overall private equity and venture capital investment has grown from ~$362 million in investment in 2020 to nearly ~$68 billion in 2021 for gene therapy and cell therapy collectively.
  • Strategic Collaborations and Partnerships in the Field: Synthetic biology is a multidisciplinary field that requires expertise in various areas such as biology, computer science, etc. Hence, there is a growing trend of partnerships between companies and institutions to share expertise and resources. For example, the synthetic biology company Twist Bioscience entered into a partnership with researchers to develop synthetic genes for COVID-19 vaccine candidates.

Synthetic Biology Market Restraints

  • Ethical and Regulatory Concerns: The safety, security, and potential use of engineered organisms or genetic information is a major cause of concern.
  • Patent Disputes: Intellectual property rights and patent disputes and other legal hurdles are challenging the market’s growth.

Market Segment Insights

The segments in the synthetic biology market are:

  • Tools (synthetic cells, oligonucleotides and synthetic DNA, cloning technology kits, enzymes, xeno nucleic acids, and chassis organisms): The oligonucleotide/oligo pools and synthetic DNA segment is leading with revenue of ~$4.6 billion in 2022. Several molecular and synthetic biology applications, such as targeted next-generation sequencing (NGS), mutagenesis experiments, DNA computing, and CRISPR gene editing use oligonucleotides.
  • Technology (polymerase chain reaction [PCR], NGS): PCR is leading the technology segment, growing at a CAGR of ~30% in the present decade.
  • Application (non-healthcare, healthcare): Healthcare is dominating the application segment, expanding at a CAGR of ~19%.
  • End Use (biotechnology and pharmaceutical, agriculture, manufacturing, and others): The biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies are the biggest end users of synthetic biology, capturing the highest revenue share of 52% in 2022.

Key Players And Notable Recent Events

The prominent players in the market are New England Biolabs, Bota Biosciences Inc., Codexis, Inc., Eurofins, Creative Biogene, Creative Enzymes, Enbiotix, Inc, Illumina, Inc., Scientific Novozymes, Merck KGaA (Sigma-Aldrich Co. LLC), Scarab Genomics, LLC, Pareto Bio, Inc., Synthego Synthetic Genomics Inc., Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc., among others.

Notable Recent Events

  • GlaxoSmithKline and Biocon Limited have started to identify SynBio-based therapies so that novel medicines can be created in an efficient and affordable manner.
  • Bota Bio has raised more than ~$100 million in an oversubscribed Series B funding round to expand the company's global operations and scale-up of the company's product pipeline in consumer goods, food, nutrition, and pharmaceutical products. This Series B financing brought Bota Bio's total funding to ~$145 million as of July 2021.
  • Creative Biogene has recently announced the release of its professional expression system to accelerate bioproduction stable cell line development.
  • To join the third global funding cycle of Illumina Accelerator, Illumina has selected seven new genomics startups. The global company creation engine has invested in four companies for the third funding cycle of Illumina Accelerator Cambridge, U.K., and three companies for the 13th funding cycle of Illumina Accelerator San Francisco Bay Area.

Regional Market Insights For Synthetic Biology

North America

North America is leading the synthetic biology market in terms of revenue, valued at ~$1.7 billion in 2022 and growing at a CAGR of 24%. It is expected to reach ~$4 billion by 2032. Synthetic biology companies in North America raised $2.9 billion in funding in 2020. In North America, synthetic biology is primarily used in drug development, with various companies and academic institutions involved in the field. For instance, the Synthetic Biology Innovation Lab at Harvard Medical School is focused on developing new therapeutic strategies using synthetic biology. In addition, government support is also accelerating the growth of the market in the region. In our analysis, it has been found that the U.S. government provides a minimum of ~$220 million annually toward synthetic biology R&D from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Science Foundation, NIH, DoD (including DARPA), and the Department of Energy. All these factors are promoting the growth of the market in the region.

Asia Pacific

The Asia Pacific’s synthetic biology market size is expected to reach ~$8 billion by 2032, growing from $2 billion in 2022. China, India, and Japan are the major countries showing high potential in the field of synthetic biology. As per our analysis, the China synthetic biology market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 20% in the present decade. Large investments in R&D in synthetic biology for applications in medicine, agriculture, life sciences, and manufacturing are driving the market’s growth in China.

The Indian synthetic biology market, which is growing at a CAGR of 32%, is also showing high growth potential. In 2018, the Indian Department of Biotechnology (DBT) started a synthetic biology training program for postgraduates, Ph.D. students, post docs, and faculty members to make this knowledge accessible to all. Moreover, independent researchers, with an emphasis on community labs, are also being promoted to develop holistic, sustainable solutions to boost synthetic biology in India.


The synthetic biology market in Europe was valued at ~$1.7 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 23%, to reach ~$6 billion by 2032. The presence of several renowned research institutions, universities, and start-ups is further driving advancements in the field. The United Kingdom, Germany, and the Netherlands have strong synthetic biology ecosystems. Strong government support through initiatives and programs is ensuring diversified expertise and stimulating innovation in this area. In the U.K., six multidisciplinary Synthetic Biology Research Centres (SBRCs), representing a total investment of £70.5 million, have been allocated five years’ worth of funding to boost national synthetic biology research capacity.


Synthetic biology shows high prospects for growth and profitability. Rising awareness among people and medical practitioners, leading them to choose synthetic biology-inhibited treatments instead of conventional options, is a major boost to the market. Therapies developed through synthetic biology are known to be far less harmful and much more efficacious. Since 2019, approximately 200 cancer patients in the U.K. who received adoptive cell therapy (ACT) each year in clinical trials have benefitted from the treatment. However, the biosafety concern also has to be duly acknowledged and addressed. Any accidental or intended release of synthetic organisms into the environment during research or other applications can lead to detrimental bio errors that can be catastrophic.