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The partners will collaborate on developing scale-up chip-based technology to enable commercial-scale production of a third-generation DNA synthesis platform.
Evonetix, a Cambridge, UK-based synthetic biology company, has partnered with imec, a Leuven, Belgium-based research and innovation hub specializing in nanoelectronics and digital technologies, to increase production of Evonetix’s proprietary microelectromechanical systems (MEMS)-based silicon chips. The collaboration aims to enable the platform to be manufactured at a commercial scale. The novel silicon chip is a key component of Evonetix’s desktop DNA platform which, once fully developed, will facilitate and enable drug discovery via synthetic biology.
Under the collaboration, announced on Jan. 13, 2020, imec will work with Evonetix to scale up manufacturing of the MEMS technology on 8-inch silicon wafers, enabling Evonetix to supply customers in volume. imec is able to leverage its experience in manufacturing silicon for life-sciences applications to transfer the Evonetix process to their foundries and to manage further expansion in volume.
Evonetix’s technology is based on a silicon chip, made by MEMS processing, that controls the synthesis of DNA at many thousands of independently controlled reaction sites or ‘pixels’ on the chip surface in a parallel fashion. Following synthesis, strands are assembled on-chip into double-stranded DNA in a process that identifies and removes errors, enabling accuracy, scale, and speed that is several orders of magnitude better than conventional approaches, the company reports.
“With the support of imec, a world-renowned leader in microchip technology, we will be able to optimize our highly parallel desktop platform for commercial supply,” said Dr. Matthew Hayes, chief technology officer at Evonetix, in a company press release.
“We have extensive practical knowledge of chip design and technology, which we use to help develop innovative tools for the life sciences and pharma R&D. Evonetix has developed an innovative approach that integrates physics and biology to enable the production of high-fidelity long DNA in a highly parallel fashion. We are eager to contribute to their success using our nanotechnology capabilities,” added Peter Peumans, vice-president Life Science Technologies at imec, in the press release.