Biotech Gets Green Light at Gore Innovation Center

Silicon Valley based Gore Innovation Center has a prototyping lab and co-working space.

Recent news of the partnership between Berkeley-based biotech start-up Checkerspot and W.L. Gore’s Innovation Center shines a light on what’s next in performance materials. Specifically synthetic biology enabled functionality. “Synbio,” aka biomaterials, has been on the radar in recent years with firms such as Bolt Threads and Modern Meadow commercializing synthetic spider silk and bio-enhanced leather, respectively. But this latest development with Gore brings biotech steps closer to the active/outdoor industry space.

Checkerspot’s sweet spot is a platform that uses microalgae as a tiny biological factory for the production of oil, according to the company, which with a recent round of funding, the company will use to develop performance textiles.

The Gore Innovation Center in Silicon Valley is an 11,000-square-foot co-innovation space complete with a prototyping lab and co-working space that offers startups the chance to collaborate with Gore scientists on advanced materials science challenges. "The Gore Innovation Center is a place for experimenting with new ideas, pushing boundaries and bringing together diverse talents to deliver transformative solutions that improve lives," says Linda Elkins, chief technical officer.

Previous to the partnership with Checkerspot, the Gore Innovation Center signed a joint development agreement with digital health start-up Kenzen to create a comprehensive wearable monitoring system employing biosensor data and predictive modeling to anticipate avoidable injuries. Another Gore partnership, with the firm Bonbouton, focused on the co-development of a smart fabric used to detect changes in body temperature. Incorporating Gore's advanced materials enhances the comfort, durability and reliability of these products.

According to Zion Market Research, in a report released in June, the global biomaterials market was over $94 billion in 2018 and is expected to reach above $256.2 billion by 2025. Healthcare is the main driver of growth in this area by far.