Twist Biosciences plots its ‘factory of the future’ in Oregon, seeks to expand synthetic DNA client base

One of the leading players at the forefront of synthetic DNA production, California-based Twist Bioscience has already had a busy 2020. Now, seeking to expand its client base and technology capabilities even further, it’s building its “factory of the future.”

Twist, which manufactures synthetic DNA by writing it on a silicon chip platform, will build a 110,000-square-foot facility near Portland, Oregon, that will more than double its current production capacity by the time the facility is operational in 2022.

Emily Leproust, Twist co-founder and CEO, said in a statement that the factory will allow Twist to serve client populations in the biotech sphere that it simply can’t with the company’s current production capacity—hence the name “factory of the future.”

“We are expanding our customer base and ramping production of our products at an exceptional rate,” she said. “The (factory) allows us to support the increasing needs of our customers as they scale globally and plan for aggressive growth into synthetic biology and biopharma market segments we cannot serve today.”

The capital outlay associated with the facility, located more specifically in Wilsonville, was kept under wraps. However, Twist said it expected the plant to bring some 400 jobs to the area by the time it’s up and running.

Beyond its “factory of the future,” Twist has had a busy 2020. Most recently, the company in October announced a collaboration with Neogene to study CAR-T and TCR therapies for cancer patients. Twist will create a TCR library — a self-proclaimed “library of libraries” — to aid Neogene’s search for engineered TCRs against targets in cancer, and Twist will also use the library to discover antibodies for future Neogene CAR-T candidates.

In July, the company tapped Erin Smith to be its senior vice president of government affairs and public policy, a newly-created position. Smith had previously helped lead the expansion of a government affairs program at Gilead.

And in February, Twist and Leproust spent $22.5 million to settle one of the biggest issues hanging over the company — a four-year legal battle over Leproust’s departure from Agilent. Agilent, a 20-year old synthetic DNA manufacturer, alleged that Leproust misappropriated trade secrets and was in breach of contract when she left Agilent to start Twist with co-founders Bill Banyai and Bill Peck.

In that settlement, neither Agilent nor Twist admitted any liability or wrongdoing.

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