Colin McCracken has spoken of his excitement at “putting our DNA in the hands of end users” as he takes over the CEO role at Evonetix.
Evonetix technology in the making. Picture: Richard Marsham/RMG Photography
Colin was unveiled as CEO of the ground-breaking company bringing semiconductor technology to gene synthesis on Monday.
He arrives from Standard BioTools Inc (Fluidigm Corp until April), where he was senior vice president and chief commercial officer, declaring “Cambridge is an inspirational place to be for anyone interested in science and technology”.
Evonetix has made huge strides since Tim Brears left as CEO in April 2021 after four years in post. Since then, chief technology officer and founder Dr Matthew Hayes had fulfilled the role.
In September, Evonetix was granted a UK patent for its novel method of DNA data storage and retrieval, confirming that its technology has overcome one of the major hurdles of using DNA for data storage. A European patent for its proprietary thermal control technology for DNA synthesis, as well as the design and manufacture of its silicon chips, followed in April.
The lure of a company on the edge of achieving greatness clearly proved irresistible.
“Biology, and synthetic biology in particular, is at a seminal point in its development,” said Colin.
Colin McCracken, CEO at Evonetix’s Coldham’s Business Park headquarters. Picture: Keith Heppell
“It is being applied to some of the most challenging problems that the world is facing now, across climate change, healthcare, food production and industry. At the centre of all this is the DNA that underpins these applications and Evonetix has technology to completely change the way researchers access synthetic DNA, particularly for complex libraries and genes.
“The team at Evonetix has already made huge progress on preparing their technology for market and so the combination of the team, the technology and its impact in the world makes for a very exciting place to work.”
In March Evonetix achieved enzymatic DNA synthesis capability with its thermally controlled synthesis chemistry, allowing the production of scarless DNA sequences. What’s next?
“We will soon be sharing thermally controlled, chip-synthesised DNA with evaluation partners for its first external validation. It is an exciting milestone for the company to start putting our DNA in the hands of end users.”
The Evonetix mission has required an adaptable team, Colin adds – with more hires on the way.
Matthew Hayes, founder and chief technology officer, Evonetix. Picture: Keith Heppell
“Evonetix is one of the most multi-disciplinary companies I have ever known,” he said. “Ultimately we are about delivering DNA, so I anticipate building more on the biological application side to compliment the teams across physics, chemistry, electronics, engineering and software who make the technology work.
“We still have a lot of growing to do however, so there will be many opportunities across our disciplines well into the future.”
Dr Hayes commented: “We have engaged in an extensive and detailed search to find the right person to lead Evonetix into our next phase of development. Colin has impressed us with both his commercial knowledge and ability to relate to the leadership team and wider organisation. We are all looking forward to working with him and continuing to build Evonetix’s future.”
Paul Beastall, chair of the Evonetix board, added: “The board is thrilled to have him join Evonetix, and we are confident that his expertise and drive will allow us to deliver on the immense potential of Evonetix’s synthesis platform.”
Business News Mike Scialom