> Eri Gentry
> A Hackerspace for Biotech
> Eri Gentry is a co-founder of BioCurious, a Mountain View based
> non-profit offering the first Bay Area collaborative lab space
> dedicated to non-institutional biology and seeking to bring life
> sciences within reach of do-it-yourself hobbyists and
> BioCurious has a short term goal to raise enough money to build
> a basic synthetic biology lab; its long term vision is to create
> new way to incubate biotech ideas, not in million dollar labs,
> a but among friends in informal settings.
> Eri, a Yale-educated economist, will talk about how she became
> involved in the do-it-yourself-bio movement, her efforts to procure
> expensive lab equipment at bargain basement prices, and some of the
> projects members are working on.
Eri began by talking about some work
she had done with Livly, a startup in biotech that she had cofounded,
an exciting place to work. She was also inspired by Mountain
View's hacker dojo, where volunteers use not much money to advance the
software state of the art for entertainment value and enlightenment.
She set out to do something similar in biotech.
She showed us a picture of the garage
she and a friend had made into what would be a million dollar lab if it
had been built by Genentech or somebody like that. Instead they
invested about $30,000.00 in it. Some of it was salvaged from equipment
sales at startup company going out of business sales, other items were
house made for nothing.
Eri then talked about some of the more
interesting things her team has been working on. Guido made a DNA
xeroxer. Somebody else is working on biofuels from algae. A DNA
gel sequencer and open PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) tool were also
Eri finished by explaining that her
focus is to develop a community as well as a community lab, which
allows people from different backgrounds to collaborate and lowers the
barriers to entry to starting a biotech company. Once people have proof
of concept and are ready to go for the mass market, they need to go to
venture capitalists for that kind of money. At the moment they
have some funding from a seed capital website, and expect to use that
over the coming year.
During Q&A the following came up.
They got seed capital from kickstarter.
The project can be found at biocurious.org/kickstarter
Do you do anything about the
intellectual property rights of your scientists?
BioCurious will ask people to sign
membership agreements and liability waivers. They, however, will not
take others intellectual property. What you come up with in working
with the group is yours. Eri might caution you to not talk about it too
How do you prevent your equipment from
being used to do evil?
Eri has thought about that a lot.
Generally, she works to build a cooperative open environment where
people talk about what they are doing. She is aware that these tools
can be used for bad things, but they work to prevent that on an ongoing
To find out more please visit the
website at biocurious.org.
If you have further questions Eri can
be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
She is also on LinkedIn at