Ginkgo Bioworks, the leading horizontal platform for cell programming, and First Serv, a Qatari investment holding company, today announced that they have entered into a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to develop and implement new biosecurity capabilities in Qatar. The partners to the MOU recognize the importance of international collaboration and cooperation to effectively prevent and respond to biological threats in this global age. The initial goal of the partnership is to establish Doha as a critical node of a global pathogen monitoring network, given its important position as a worldwide travel hub. Effective early detection capabilities and sharing of information can empower officials and community leaders to make informed local and global public health decisions.
Ginkgo, through its biosecurity and public health initiative, Concentric by Ginkgo, provides pathogen monitoring capabilities across thousands of sites including schools, airports, and other congregate settings. The network includes partnerships with laboratories, couriers, and healthcare providers and has been successful in providing COVID-19 testing services across the U.S. The partnership with First Serv in Qatar marks a significant milestone in Ginkgo’s international expansion as it continues to scale its biosecurity offerings.
Qatar is ideally positioned to become a key node in the global pathogen surveillance network of the future given its role as an international travel hub. Paired with Ginkgo’s operational and technical expertise in large-scale pathogen monitoring, First Serv plans to develop critical infrastructure to detect emerging pathogens, thereby helping to secure the local community and economy, as well as advancing biosecurity around the world. Ginkgo’s growing international efforts aim to expand their existing pathogen monitoring network on a global scale to provide support and information to leaders seeking to manage future public health crises.
“Biosecurity in this new era is about applying the cutting edge tools of the biotech age to prevent the next pandemic or infectious disease threat. Proactive pathogen monitoring is an essential part of this effort—we need a robust global weather map to identify and track emerging biological threats,” said Matt McKnight, General Manager, Biosecurity at Ginkgo Bioworks. “We are incredibly excited by the opportunity to use our biosecurity platform to help bolster Qatar’s pathogen monitoring infrastructure to assist Doha’s global travel hub in becoming a leader in helping prepare the world for the next new variant or novel pathogen.”
Sheikh Sultan Jassim Al Thani, Chairman at First Serv said, “As the COVID-19 pandemic transitions to an endemic phase, the world needs a new industry built around next-generation biosecurity. We are excited about our plans to partner with Ginkgo in support of their market-leading capabilities in this sector. We believe Qatar is uniquely placed to provide a significant biosecurity service to the world, beginning with this effort.”