At FOO Camp, I had the pleasure of meeting Eri Gentry, a very smart, passionate, and charismatic bio-hacking enthusiast who is working with friends to build BioCurious, a non-profit community hackerspace for open source biotech in Mountain View, Califoirnia. (BB's Dean Putney snapped the below photo of Eri at FOO Camp with her group's DIY PCR machine.) The BioCurious folks have launched a Kickstarter project to really bring their work out of the garage and, well, into a much bigger garage. I think efforts like BioCurious are essential to the future of biotech. In fact, I think efforts like BioCurious are the future of biotech. BioCurious is all about:
1) Education, Outreach, Community building events.
Science was once a cultural activity, carried out by wealthy “gentlemen scholars” who had the leisure and material resources to experiment. The 20th century saw an unprecedented centralization of science around an industrial model. The plummeting costs of enabling technologies has brought meaningful biological research back within reach of the independent citizen scientist. From Bio-Art to BioFuels, the wave of next generation biotech applications is set to transform our culture and economy. BioCurious will be Ground 0 for this revolution.
2) Entrepreneurship Incubation, Mentoring, Angel Investment.
The Bay Area is home to many networks that help entrepreneurs launch web businesses with a shoe-string budget and a dream. Similar support infrastructure does not yet exist for biotech ventures. Until recently, biotech has required large start up costs. An ecosystem of mentorship and a network of investors who understand the possibilities for lean-biotech-start ups to leverage shared resources and amplify their creative efforts to have disproportionate commercial impact, does not yet exist. BioCurious will catalyze the formation of this system.
Your support will help us acquire the remaining needed equipment and secure the deposit of 3 months rent for a fully outfitted labspace. Together with the matching pledges from our founding members, whose monthly dues will support operations, we'll have a sustainable non-profit community lab. Science and education grants (STEM) will provide further support as well as kits and classes (eg, core biotech courses, how to build a gel box, PCR technique, SNP testing).