Ginkgo Bioworks and Google Cloud forge five-year AI and biology partnership

Ginkgo Bioworks’ pioneering capabilities in harnessing vast biological data. [Image courtesy of Ginkgo Bioworks]

Founded in 2008, Ginkgo Bioworks’ stock jumped almost 25% on August 29, hitting $2.22, after unveiling a five-year partnership with Google Cloud. The partnership centers around the development of novel AI tools for biology and biosecurity. In particular, Ginkgo hopes to further its mission to make biology easier to engineer in the AI era.

Opting to make Google Cloud its primary cloud services provider, Ginkgo plans to develop new large language models for biological engineering applications based on Google’s Vertex AI platform. Debuting in 2021 as a framework for streamlining the machine learning lifecycle, Vertex AI has since evolved to incorporate more generative AI capabilities.

Further solidifying the partnership, Google Cloud will also help fund Ginkgo’s development of foundation mod…

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NIH puts $249m into new COVID-19 tests

Quidel’s Sofia 2 point-of-care COVID-19 test. (Image from Quidel/NIH)

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced today that it is investing $248.7 million in new technologies to address challenges with COVID-19 testing.

The “Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics” (RADx) initiative awarded contracts to seven biomedical diagnostic companies to support lab-based and point-of-care tests that could significantly increase the number, type and availability of tests by millions per week as early as September 2020, according to a news release.

Four of the selected technologies offer innovations in laboratory-based testing, including next-generation sequencing, CRISPR and integrated microfluidic chips for increasing testing capacity and throughput while reducing the time needed to receive results.

Remaining are three point-of-care technologies that provide nucleic acid and viral anti…

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