Interview with Steven O'Connell of RebelBio

RebelBio is a global Moonshot Bio-Factory. They're an accelerator by SOSV that is funding and building startups in biotechnology, life sciences, health and synthetic biology to solve our worlds’ most complex and pressing challenges – with life itself!

Here's our interview with the Associate Director & Programme Manager, Steven O Connell.

Why don't we start by telling me something about yourself, the team you worked with to build RebelBio and why did you build it?

RebelBio began as SynbioAxlr8r in 2014, founded by Bill Liao & Sean O'Sullivan to demonstrate investing in early stage synthetic biology & biotechnology  was not only possible but entirely feasible. From there SOSV pioneered investments in biotechnology spanning US through IndieBio since 2015 and Europe with RebelBio since 2014.

How did you find the space and funding?

We are backed by SOSV - The Accelerator VC to be a pioneer in early stage investor in Biotechnology & Synthetic Biology since 2014. Our lab space in the Department of Microbiology was sourced via our local University College Cork which is available during the summer and is staffed full time by a dedicated Microbiology team who support the research of researchers and since 2014...entrepreneurs!

What were the challenges you encountered in building RebelBio?

A common challenge in both US & EU facing many commercial accelerators lies in bridging the gap between academia and entrepreneurship.  Many academic labs develop their technologies in isolation with no substantial market to commercialise their technology or the necessary business acumen to become successful entrepreneurs. Accelerators like IndieBio and RebelBio bridge this gap but can sometimes find it difficult to engage with these researchers as the new paradigm would not feed the grant funding mechanisms that academic research normally desire.

What types of projects have you and the RebelBio team worked on?

RebelBio has successfully invested in Perfect Day Foods based in San Francisco, one of the first ever post animal bioeconomy companies creating animal free milk! From there we have funded a number of impactful startups and technologies. You can see our full portfolio here.

Tell me something about your accelerator?

The accelerator has evolved over time since 2014 to create bespoke mentorship with leading business professionals, successful entrepreneurs and talented scientists to help shape these scientists into entrepreneurs.  Backed by our amazing team at SOSV we have a substantial level of support to offer startups.


Who is/were part of this project (people, company etc.)?

The core team is as follows:

Bill Liao - European General Partner for SOSV & Founder of RebelBio

Elsa Sotiriadis - Programme Director for RebelBio
Dr. John Carrigan - Chief Scientific Officer for RebelBio

Steven O Connell - Associate Director & Programme Manager

Caitriona Kelleher - Investment Analyst
Sally Hudson - Executive Assistant to Bill Liao

Together we are an elite team of hustler, business professionals and synthetic biologists to meet any needs of startups, support investment and help grow the European Ecosystem for Biotech & Synthetic Biology.

What were the challenges you encountered?

The core challenges in Europe are normally associated with investment from the VC / Angel side. Investors here are more focused on traditional therapeutics and large scale biopharmaceuticals so they tend not to put large amounts of cash into synthetic biology & biotechnology. This trend is changing however and we are looking forward to getting companies.

Is there someone who funded or helped you with this project, I mean financially?

This programme is backed by SOSV - The Accelerator VC, a venture fund worth $300 Million under management dedicated to making the impossible inevitable. Check out the site to find out more!

What motivates you with this accelerator?

To meet and engage with the amazing biohackers, citizen scientists and entrepreneurs to support them in their quest to

What equipments did you use/are you using?

We use the latest equipment to meet the requirements of any of our startups but we have excellent resources available to us in UCC in the Department of Microbiology as well as the UCC SynBioCentre led by Dr. John Mark Tangney.

What are your plans after this accelerator?

Our plans are to scale this programme to two programmes a year and host a second programme in another biotechnology hotspot! It is a very exciting time and we look forward to working with more and more entrepreneurs each year. 

How do you see as the future for biohacking globally?

Biohacking is a great practice and many of this biohackers demonstrate very strong entrepreneurial qualities, especially their will to change the world or address a major issue! I can see a bright future for young biohackers to partake in biohacking to gain a greater understanding of life and technologies as these biotechnologies become democratised. 

And one last question,Many people say that biotechnology is dramatically changing the world, what can you say about that?

As William Gibson once said "The future is already here — it's just not very evenly distributed" but when you look at what is happening in biotechnology and accelerators like IndieBio and RebelBio we are democratising and distributing biotechnologies more evenly than thought possible. 

Biology is advancing 5 times faster than Moore's law and in our portfolio technologies now exist which were previously thought possible. Helixworks have successfully made the worlds commercial DNA data storage, animal free milk courtesy of Perfect Day Foods and sweet tasting proteins thanks to Milis Bio all within under 2 years! Our full portfolio is located here.

The future is exceptionally bright!

Interview with Rafael Lobo, CEO of Magenta Biolabs

Rafael Lobo Martin

Magenta Biolabs produces high quality hyaluronic acid for the cosmetic industry. We have an innovative production process to avoid chemical or biological hazards. Our method is eco-friendly, fast and efficient

Magenta Biolabs Team

Magenta Biolabs Team

Why don't we start by telling me something about yourself, the team you worked with to build MagentaBiolabs and why did you build it?
- Haha well, I define myself as a young Costa Rican scientist and entrepreneur who loves sports. I am a biotechnology engineering student (on july I will obtain my bachelor degree - hopefully) from Costa Rica Institute of Technology. I met my team in Startup Weekend 2015, an entrepreneurship competition. We are all from the same career and the same university. Sofía Miranda, Pablo Méndez and Marcelo Castro are their names. Before Magenta, we worked in another Startup looking to control crop pests, however, the market (potential clients) wasn't interested in our technology. After it, we wanted to take advantage of some agro-industrial by-products to develop a platform using synbio to produce different valuable compounds. Thats how Magenta Biolabs was born and we chose to produce hyaluronic in our first platform.

How did you find the space and funding?
- We applied to the biotech accelerator IndieBio EU (now RebelBio) in 2016 and we were accepted. In last summer we moved to Ireland and in there we had lab space to develop the prototype and received funding from SOSV. Back in Costa Rica, we partnered to CENIBiot (National Center for Biotechnological Innovations), a fully equipped lab where we can optimice the prototype, scale to pilot plant (100 L) and to develop the other platforms we designed. Currently we are having conversations with some angels and also we intend to apply for some national funding for scientific startups to continue with the next stages.

What were the challenges you encountered in building MagentaBiolabs?
- Well, we faced (and are facing) lots of challenges. First of all it was difficult to find funding. I mean, there aren't many funding opportunities to start as a business idea and it is expensive to develop an MVP for a biotech business (you need a lab, equipment, reagents, biological and genetic material...). Finding lab space wasn't easy at all.

Bureaucracy is also a huge challenge. Some legal procedures may take lots of time that you could spend in the lab.

The fact that we are young (between 20 and 22 years old) is both good and challenging. Some people are like: "wow, it's great that young people decided to start a business" and they look to help us in everything they can (introductions and advice), but for other people it isn't good.

What types of projects have you and the MagentaBiolabs team worked on?
- Individually the team members took part as interns in research projects related to plant virology, animal tissue culture and molecular identification of species.

And together I mentioned to you our previous project: biotech products to control crop pests in a sustainable way. The product didn´t fit in the market. And now, fully dedicated to Magenta Biolabs.

We also founded Hora Biotec (Biotech Hour in english haha), the first mensual meet-up of biotechnology in Costa Rica. We seek to cover different themes, but relate them to biotech. For example: soft skills, entrepreneurship + biotech, computer engineering + biotech, etc.

Tell me something about your project?
-More detailed, Magenta Biolabs is a biotech company aiming to develop novel platforms using synbio, agro-industrial by-products and a circular economy model to produce valuable compounds for the cosmetic, biomedical, pharmaceutical and textile industries mainly. By this I mean: the by-product X plus the strain Y will produce hyaluronic acid; the by-product Z and the strain R will produce this anticoagulant or pigment or any molecule.

We chose to start producing hyaluronic acid; an anti-aging product used in cosmetics, aesthetic treatments, diseases therapy among other applications.

Our business is based in a licensing model where companies with industrial capacity to supply a massive demand can use our platforms.

Who is/were part of this project (people, company etc.)?
- Myself, Rafael Lobo as CEO, the one in charge of the business strategy. Sofía Miranda is the CTO of the company and the main brain of the team. Marcelo Castro is the one who coordinates the projects design to become a reality in the lab. He is our COO. And Pablo Méndez, our CFO. He keeps the order in the numbers.

Despite the fact of our roles, there is room for all to work in the lab, but also to represent the company in competitions or international fairs.

Is there someone who funded or helped you with this project, I mean financially?
-Yes. Through IndieBio (now RebelBio), an accelerator of SOSV (VC).

What motivates you with this project?
- Lots of things. The team is strongly united and passionate about Magenta Biolabs. There is no such thing as a great team and I believe that we are it. We are learning all the days different things, and not just in the technical area, but also in business, legal, finances, marketing, etc. I mean, it's amazing.

Our business by itself motivates us. We imagine simple, sustainable, but efficient processes under a circular economy model and where the molecules that are produced have a very positive effect for the final consumers: the people.

Finally, our main motivation is to inspire young people (off course that we want it more for Costa Ricans) to start
 their own companies. The road isn't the easiest, but it is one of the best ways to improve our society doing what we love and are passionate about.


What equipments did you use/are you using?
- Mainly, we are using the basic molecular biology equipment (thermocicler, incubators, hoods, electrophoresis equipment, freezer, etc.) And also bioprocess equipment like bioreactors, filters, etc.

What are your plans after this project?
- To continue developing our platforms. And we wish to start our own biotech business incubator in Costa Rica, focused mainly in young scientists students from all over the world and who start like we did.

How do you see as the future for biohacking globally?
- I love the fact that there's a continuously growing biohackers community locally, regionaly and globally. It happens the same to biohacking spaces. Some places have a mature community like US or UE, and others are still under development like in Latin America (Syntech Bio is a great example and effort where Ryan is also an advisor).

Open Science, amazing tools like Benchling and the fact that gene sequencing and synthesis is getting cheaper through the years will empower biohackers and citizens.

I visualize a great future for the biohacking community and maybe in the next answer will be clearer my position.

And one last question,Many people say that biotechnology is dramatically changing the world, what can you say about that?
-I strongly believe that biotech is and will be a powerful tool to improve society and what a better oportunity to do it through entrepreneurship. There are huge opportunities for us (biohackers).

Globally we are facing lots of problems in several areas: food delivery-preservation-quality, food sources, land for crops, diseases (cardiovascular diseases and cancer as the main causes of death), pollution, species extintion, etc, etc, etc.

And biotechnology has emerged as a current paradigm shift in many areas: meat will be produced from tissue culture, milk will be produced in a bioreactor, leather will be produced from mycellium, silk-pigments-anticoagulants-valuable compounds will be produced in bacteria, yeasts or even algae, animal structures/tissues like Rhino horns will be produced also from tissue culture in a lab, super nutritional food sources like from algae will be available for people in poor regions, diseases diagnosis will be faster and even better, the treatments will be more efficient, fuels won't come anymore from the bottom of earth, but from microorganisms; disease and Hostile abiotic conditions crops will be cultivated and the examples won't finish.  And I mean, there are companies who have done it or are doing all these examples like Memphis Meats, Perfect Day, Spira, Neogram, Pili,  Amyris, UniBiome, the Costa Rican startups Speratum, Bio-TD, Cibus 3.0 (and Magenta :p)... Literally biotech will change the way we live and it's amazing that we are witnessing that change.

Steve Jobs mentioned it: "I think the biggest innovations of the 21st century will be at the intersection of biology and technology. A new era is beginning."

Luc Henry | Co-Founder | Hackuarium

Hackuarium want to bring biology (and biologists) to the world, and the real world back to biology. Their laboratory is an excuse to meet and discuss, build and develop ideas in a neutral, open, noncompetitive and not-for-profit environment. 

Their laboratory in Renens (Switzerland) is open to anyone sharing the values of the association and who is dedicated to follow the DIYbio Europe ethical guidelines.

Their projects are initiated and carried out by scientists as well as non-scientists from a variety of background. They are passionate about tinkering with biology in particular, and technology in general. Some are engineers, architects, designers, IT and computer scientists or retired professionals, but others have no scientific education. They are mostly citizens interested in open and participatory research and innovation, outside the contrains of traditional institutions.

Hackuarium members want to investigate new ways of carrying out interdisciplinary research and innovation, by making their results accessible (low-cost), simple and easily reproducible (low-tech) and by promoting an open source philosophy.

Hackuarium is proudly using infrastructures provided by UniverCité, an unconventional innovation hub opened in May 2014. Their equipment is mostly upcycled material from institutions and industries from western Switzerland.

Very interesting right? Let's learn more about them as we share our interview with Luc Henry, the co-founder of Hackuarium. 

Tell me about yourself, the team you worked with to build Hackuarium and why did you build it?

My name is Luc Henry, I was born in Switzerland and am a chemist by training. Until I left my last university position to focus on science communication and policy issues two years ago, my research was focused on molecular aspects of biology.

I spent several years living in different European countries, and when I finally came back to Switzerland in 2014 and was really interested in launching a DIYbio initiative. I spent six months talking to everybody involved in remotely related activities around Lausanne and built a network of people interested in the idea, but soon realised that there was nothing similar to what I had in mind. So I started to spread the word that I would be starting something new.  I co-founded Hackuarium ( with Yann Heurtaux, who has no science background but a real commitment for the promotion of coworking and antidisciplinary spaces. He had experience with community building and we formed the perfect pair to start a community lab. Very soon, others joined us, scientists, designers, architects, engineers, and we started to realise that, although biology was still going to be the main focus, we had to broaden our interests to other sciences and technologies to make it more interesting.

The reasons why I wanted to support an initiative like Hackuarium are diverse. I first started to think about alternative ways of doing research in biology about ten years ago, just after I finished my Master studies in Lausanne, Switzerland. I was working as a research assistant in a cell biology lab I was stunned by the way researchers would rely on commercial kits and reagents when you could (as a chemist at least) easily imagine how to prepare them yourself. Also, it seems that the accepted and that meant that the most important ingredient for success was the vast amounts of funding available. But I was really not convinced myself. I was thinking of founding an institute for low-cost science and test the hypothesis that good science could be done with limited resources, but then I moved to Oxford and got carried away with my DPhil (PhD) project. When I first met the DIYbio European community years later, it seemed that they were on the right track. Also, I got familiar with the Open Source and Open Data movements at approximately the same time and thought that Open Biology had a real potential. So I brought all this back home with me.

How did you find the space and funding?

Pretty early in the thought process, we gave interviews to local press about the concept and the reasons why we wanted to launch a grassroots initiative. At this point, some genuinely interested people contacted us. Some were researchers who liked the novelty of the approach and wanted to join, some were industry people curious about our goals and motivations, and some were from organization whose role is to promote research and innovation in the region. Inartis for example is a private not-for-profit foundation who was already interested in building an unconventional innovation space near Lausanne, and our initiative was aligned with their vision. They had a deal with the local municipality for renting a space. So when UniverCité ( opened in the Spring 2014, Hackuarium became the first community to benefit from these infrastructures. Today UniverCité also host a coworking space, a fully equipped makerspace, and a couple of small companies, and it is meant to grow bigger and more exciting. As a community, Hackuarium is looking into funding and business models to sustain the space, but the DIYbio activities are just one part of the whole.

Was building the Hackuarium community hard? Who is/was part of the community?

Building a community is always hard. But I would particularly recommend to start with a community and then look for infrastructures. At Hackuarium, we had the mixed blessing of finding the space first, and then slowly build a community. The users should dictate what the space looks like and the type of projects that are possible, not the other way around. Starting with a fully equipped lab is the best way to make the users think they are limited by its infrastructures. Curiosity works best when everything is possible. As a biologist interested in meeting people with a different background, I started by trying to convince people from the arts to join. Out of ten people, we have now 4 biologists, 3 engineers, 1 artist and 2 people who do not fit in these categories. I would like to see more diversity, and more gender equality, but the 40 members we have now is a good base to grow.

What types of equipment did you find you needed and what were the challenges you encountered?

From the start, we knew that access to equipment was not going to be a problem. We have the luxury of living in a country where biotechnology play an important role in the research and industry, and institutions, both private and public, regularly upgrade their equipment. People willing to donate their used instruments, and even consumables, quickly contacted us. In a sense, it is comfortable, and at the same time it can be a great disadvantage. Scarcity makes DIYbio interesting and I am struggling to find a way to control the resources so that we do not lose sight of our objectives: to try to make research more accessible, simpler and cheaper.

What types of projects have you and the Hackuarium team worked on?

First, I would not use the word “team” but rather “community”. Hackuarium is a not-for-profit association and a group of people sharing a curiosity for (bio)sciences, technologies, and looking for an opportunity to share with others. But the personal motivations and goals can be very diverse. My personal project was to create a lab and, more generally, an environment where everyone can come and experiment, test, prototype and have a conversation with the other members of a community of like-minded people. The projects are dependent on members’ interests. Some are creative projects, in music, design, architecture, some are technological, in electronics, robotics, some are scientific, in genomics, health, etc. We try to give an overview on our website ( and do our best to document everything we do on our wiki (

What do you see as the future for biohacking in Switzerland and globally?

Using the word ‘biohacking’ can be misleading here. Of course we like to think that we are biohackers, but biohacking can also be done in an academic environment. As far as Hackuarium is concerned, we focus on the ‘DIY biology’ (or Do It Together biology) part of the biohacking movement. Regarding the future, I unfortunately do not have a crystal ball. For me, all of this is an experiment. I am and will always be a scientist, and biohacking is a very interesting hypothesis to study. What if you ignore the rules of traditional research environments, give access to a lab to people with no formal science training, teach them the basics and help them work on problems that they’re interested in and see what happens? I think biohacking and DIYbio have existed for as long as biotechnology did, and are here to stay. It has recently become very interesting because ‘traditional’ scientists have started to see the value of the community approach. My main conclusion from the past two years is that DIYbio should not try to imitate what is done in industrial or academic labs. There is a lot of potential in exploring a niche that neither of these cover. The boundaries of that niche are still not very well defined and may never be, but giving access to a laboratory to people who would normally not have a chance is already yielding some pretty interesting projects. Interesting results will follow I am sure. We only need to keep the momentum and be patient. Science never happens overnight.

Julie Legault | Co-Founder | Amino Biolabs

Amino Labs was co-founded by designer Julie Legault, based on her thesis research at the MIT Media Lab, 2015.  After experiencing the difficulties of learning synthetic biology, bioengineering, from textbooks and online material, Julie created a mini-lab to help other people learn science by doing it.  Has a designer, Julie focussed her efforts on application-based learning. From Fragrances to pigments, the Amino One is people-driven.  

After graduation, friends and mentors from Montreal, Toronto, and Boston joined up to form an amazing, dedicated and excited team... without which Amino One would still only be a prototype! 

At its very beginning last fall 2015, the company got a kickstart by participating in MIT's E14 Fund and in SF's Indie Bio accelerator. Great Support came from an early crowdfunding campaign and great partnerships. 

How did you find the space and funding?
I found the DIYbio / biohacking space quite by (fortunate) accident, actually! I’m a designer; my background is in Design and Applied Arts - everything from jewellery, goldsmithing to set design, graphic arts, fashion and electronics. Although my work focusses on translating complex technologies for the public, I hadn't really looked into life sciences – I was mainly in the field of wearables, biometrics and smart materials.

While I was researching a new way to create hormonally-actuated scents in a wearable, I came across the banana smell program from biobuilder in a short microfluidics course I was taking. And so, when I met Natalie Kuldell of Biobuilder and the team from Synbiota, I was amazed that a non-scientist like me could hack biology and create a living thing in a few days. To top it off, you could actually make the living organisms behave in a actuator/sensor way like classic electronics. Amazing!

And so, I took a few workshops to make simple DNA programs and this really opened my eyes to what synthetic biology, bioengineering and GMOs really are—beyond what the media would like us to believe. It helped me understand the dangers and benefits for myself, without the sensationalistic / negative view the media has.   

But when I tried to replicate this experience outside of the framework of academic / workshops for my MIT thesis, I found it very very difficult : from understanding the textbooks quickly, to finding the right components, to the right equipment… even though I was in one of the best research institute! So, from a DIYbio experiences (the workshops), I had to go back to a traditional environment (MIT labs) and was really frustrated. Clearly there had to be a better way for a non-scientist to tackle this– I only wanted to create simple biobricks assemblies!

Was building the Amino community hard? Who is/was part of the community?
The Amino community is still growing -  we now have hundreds of users and it keeps growing. What amazed me is how organically the community grew. Sure, we did the classic social media/website/media coverage approach, but I am constantly amazed at how many people tell me they heard about it through a friend, or colleague. We have emails coming in from seniors wanting a headstart before starting college, little kids wanting a kit for their birthdays (apparently, its an easy birthday gift to convince your parents to get ! ) and more traditional researchers wanting to play at home, or continue research outside of the lab. 

What types of equipment did you find you needed and what were the challenges you encountered? I would say the main challenge we encountered is what we are trying to solve with the Amino One - having small, easy to use equipment that is affordable, which doesnt require you to set up entire rooms dedicated to that work! 

Fitting all the equipment we need in one space has been very challenging actually! From the standard PCRs, centrifuges, pipets to lasercutters, bandsaws, sanders, and fume hoods, we are looking at equipment in both the science world and in small scale manufacturing / prototyping for hardware. These dont necessarily cohabit well --when you think of all the dust and chemicals used in making alongside the need for "clean room" type environment for the wetware experiments. It is so ironic that in trying to make biotechnology kits that are small, self-contained and affordable, we had to fill up rooms and rooms with large, costly machines! But we did end up making a lot of our own infrastructure and getting second hand machines to stay on "budget". 

Secondly, we found that getting certain reagents was tricky in the beginning … a lot of the big biotech vendors wont sell to individuals... and that makes a lot of sense for safety reasons. Now that we are a registered business with a commercial address, it is not a problem. And with our webstore, we are going to pass on that privilege to DIYbio-ers all over!  With the Amino Ingredients Kits and Individual items, we can provide safe, reasonably sized reagents to our bio-explorers and thereby help them create without hassle! 

What types of projects have you and the Amino team worked on?
The main project we are working on is the Amino One and its ecosystem:  the Amino Ingredients Kits and the WebApp.  The Amino One is an easy and payful way to engineer grow and take care of living cells for schools or the home. The hardware platform, The Amino One, teaches you how to, and helps you bioengineer from concept to product. It is designed to be used by non-scientists and scientists alike, with multiple levels of instructions available. The hardware runs alongside the Ingredient Kits - all the reagents and chemicals needed to bioengineer. We call them Ingredients and treat them like cooking recipes; easy enough for the beginner but quite sophisticated in applications. For example, the first 2 kits we offer are the Amino Artists where your engineered cells produce a pigment of your choice which you can then use to paint or draw. The Amino Glow App is a living nightlight that sees you insert the DNA of a firefly or jellyfish into cells and nurture their growth to give you a living light source. All of the wetware is colour-coded for ease of use and the UX is a strong driver of the Amino Team. To create Amino One, and all future Aminos, we are developing our own sensors, fluidics and a lot of the wetware standards / assembly methods. 

What do you see as the future for biohacking in SF and globally?
I think, for us, the future of biohacking and technology is in the home. In the next years, non-scientist will get a taste of what can be created safely through bioengineering by using living cells as micro-factories, just like they do in the industry. At home, you can imagine using it for brewing, baking and crafts before we move on to medicine, energy and materials. This is what drives the vision of Amino - enabling this shift where bioengineering is an accessible and fun technology. I think SF will naturally adopt this vision quickly and the world will follow.

Daniel Grajales | Co-Founder | DIY Barcelona

DIYBio Barcelona is a group of bio – and technology enthusiasts  building a DIY bio- community lab in Barcelona area with the aim to
1) close the gap between bio-sciences and the citizens,
2) make open science and technology with the aim to help biology
3) and explore new applications of biology to every-day life which can improve their relation with the earth and themselves.

Tell me about yourself, the team you worked with to build DIY BIO BARCELONA and why did you build them?

Nuria Conde Pueyo
Post-doctoral researcher at  Complex Systems Laboratory at Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF) in the PRBB. She holds a major in Biology and a engineering in informatics and performed her research thesis about biocomputation, that it is at the interface of both fields.  Nuria eventually teaches biology for architects, artist and designers of IAAC, Elisava or Massana universities.  

Esteban Martín Gimenez
Informatics and Systems Engineer by Pompeu Fabra University with a second major in arts by the Massana University, He is pursuing a master's degree in Systems and Robotics. Esteban works as a software engineer designing and implementing multiple system's architecture. Esteban is a maker, programer, coder and consolidated designer. Esteban has seen the birth and bloom of the makers scene in Barcelona and has a long trajectory of expertise in 3D printing and design.

Alvaro Jansà Mas
Currently works as project manager at Pompeu Fabra University, developing a medical device based on electroporation. Alvaro holds a Human Biology degree by Pompeu Fabra University with a master in Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical industry. He owns more than six years of experience in the fields of Industry and Technology transfer and cancer research. He has been part of the makers scene in Barcelona and an active member of MADE (

Daniel Grajales Garcia
Electronics and Telecommunications engineer with more than five years of international experience in radio telecommunications industry and a Master's degree in "Molecular Nano and Bio-Photonics for Telecommunications and Biotechnology" with support from European Union. Daniel is currently a PhD candidate (third year) at the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. He is currently working on the integration of a lab-on-a-chip biosensor based on photonic interferometry with applications on environmental and health sensing.

Co - Founders  (from left to right)   Nuria Conde, Esteban Martín, Alvaro Jansà, Daniel Grajales & Oscar Gallardo

Co - Founders (from left to right) Nuria Conde, Esteban Martín, Alvaro Jansà, Daniel Grajales & Oscar Gallardo

In 2013 Daniel heard about the DIY bio movement while working in Seattle, WA. After moving to Barcelona, he was looking for interested candidates in the diyBio mail list. A small group of people was assembled around Thomas Landrain during FAB10 asking for advices in how to start a DIY BIO group. The first advice was to build community before getting equipment. Since Alvaro was already a MADE member (a local maker-space the group (Oscar, Alvaro and Daniel) decided to move there and ask for a small room where to setup the laboratory. As one of the first activities, the group decided to join efforts with the WAAG society and work as a node to transmit the first Biohack Academy (BHA). Since the beginning and planning of the BHA, Esteban and Nuria joined as part of the organising team. After ten weeks of intense collaboration the core group was formed by the four of us working with a higher level of compromise. There is a second tier group of friends who come to collaborate, to propose ideas, to connect local and European groups and they make things flow. Finally there are visitors and curious citizens who come to visit and see what we do, but never come back.

New bio-hackspaces are blooming around the world with fresh ideas on how to translate the crazy ideas that you do not do normally inside the academia. Barcelona is an European hub of design, arts and (bio)technological research and famous for its social and urban innovation. People keeps experimenting with architecture, urbanism and alternative social models becoming the a vessel of innovation.

How did you find the space and funding?
Alvaro was already a MADE member. MADE is a young local maker-space and hacker squad. There, we had the necessary tools to start building our own equipment and we had access to a closed room that we used as a (very basic) wet lab.

The required funding to pay the bills, to buy electronics and lab stuff to start our own lab, came from our pockets. We have received a few hardware (fridge, mini centrifuge, sonic bath, etc.) donations from the local research institutions. As time passed by, the group grew and the space became insufficient. Everybody in the group was looking for places where to move to. 

Finally, Nuria found a Daniel and Nina Carasso foundation scholarship program to collaborate with Hangar foundation (the main hub for artists in Barcelona, and PRBB (Parc de Recerca Biomédica de Barcelona). We have moved this February and we are setting up the new lab. The agreement is to get a lab space for two years and as exchange, to support the bio-work that any artist could need.

Was building the DIY BIO BARCELONA community hard? Who is/was part of the community?
Despite the amount of research centers and makers living in Barcelona, building a DIYBio community here has been harder than one may think.  This is also because we want to keep our independence. 

There are members who visit after many months. Former members include a postdoctoral researcher on microbiology and proteomics (Oscar G.), PhD students in microelectronics, in technology and science, chemistry/biology/mechatronics students, architecture students, pharmaceuticals, artists, designers, makers and so on. Some members have a humanities background with high interest (and skills) in technology. Some of them are more concerned with the social and ethical implications of the DIY Bio movement.

What types of equipment did you find you needed and what were the challenges you encountered?
We wanted to start with microbiology techniques so, in order to achieve it, we build an incubator and a centrifuge, among others. Each machine has its own problems: the incubator takes too long to get the right temperature, in order to get the centrifuge working the motor and rotor should be well balanced, there were software bugs, or hardware differences across countries, etc. The bright side of this is that with every new challenge we learned something new that can be used in other machines/projects.

What types of projects have you and the DIY BIO BARCELONA team worked on?
Firstly we started doing MeetUp workshops in order to recruit members. Then, an architecture master student (Akanksha Rathi) came looking for help to make a bacteria-bioluminescent bulb. Oscar and other members helped to design the experiments and she learnt how to collect, grow and store her own bioluminescent bacteria. Eventually she presented a proof-of-concept as her final master work.

Some members try to keep a constant production of home brew beer for internal consumption. They improve their processes, machines and receipts looking for the perfect biohacker-beer.

We participated at the BioHack Academy ( as a local node with the aim to enlarge the community.

In the arts venue, we contribute with two artworks and one workshop to the second edition of +Humans exhibition at the Contemporary Cultural Center of Barcelona (CCCB). It is about the relation of humanity with technology in the near future (

Additionally, we run some courses for teachers and citizens for the CRG in order to show them how can they create simple wetlab tools with stuff they have at home.  
In the same vein, we participated in a few citizen science festivals such as Novum or the Mini Maker Faire Barcelona.

On the other side, we also have failed on some projects. We tried to set a local node for the BioStrike movement ( Unfortunately, without a grant that helped us to cover the expenses, we couldn’t start this project. 

What do you see as the future for biohacking in Barcelona and globally?
Locally, biohacking in Barcelona has a long run to go. Barcelona is one of the largest biomedical research hubs in Europe and it has a long tradition in design and architecture. It is a multicultural city with smart and restless people from everywhere concerned about technology and society. There are other associations trying to start communitary wetlabs in Catalunya and we are in close collaboration with them creating a very special network of biolabs. 

The Valldaura Green Fablab ( is part of the Institute of Advance Architecture of Catalunya ( and they try to explore the most alternative side of architecture. They study the intersections of digital design, 3D printing, biology, permaculture, architecture, robotics, etc. The person in charge is in close contact and collaboration with us and Nuria has helped them many times with biological experiments. Actually, the bioluminescent bulb project was leaded by a master student (Akanksha) from here. They work as well with carton scaffolds and mycelium dough as building material. The company Mamotok ( is a startup created by a former Green FabLab student (Roland) who was also part of the first generation of students in the BioHack Academy. Basically, they use this mycelium dough to 3D print objects. 

In the other side of the spectra, we could find more radical groups as Calafou ( They have created a whole self-sustained community in an old abandoned industrial town up in the hills in Catalunya (2 hours driving from Barcelona). They created a FabLab and eventually a wet lab. They organise open workshops, develop their own tools, projects, etc. They brew their own beer, food, and so on. We are in close contact with them and we offer our help and resources as well, if needed. 

Globally, we hope that this movement will be the seed of a new conception of the reality, as it was for computers in the 70s. It should help people to understand what can bio-stuff do for you, besides what it has been doing for mankind since the invention of the vaccines or (even older) some agricultural techniques. We envision a future in this revolution which could change the way we relate (and have related) to matter and biology, opening the doors to a new reality between citizens, science, environment and the way we live.

Tito Jankowski | Co-Founder | BioCurious

BioCurious is the World’s First Hackerspace for Bio, Built in the Heart of Silicon Valley.
They are a community of scientists, technologists, entrepreneurs, and amateurs who believe that innovations in biology should be accessible, affordable, and open to everyone.

Located in Sunnyvale, CA, their co-working laboratory space and shared equipment is ideal for entrepreneurs, citizen scientists, hobbyists, and students.

Tito Jankowski hacks biotechnology. He is a proponent of open source hardware, biotech hackerspaces, and synthetic biology. He thinks about society’s effect on science, product design, and public speaking. His work has been covered by the New York Times, Wired, Nature, and GQ France, and in the books Biopunk: Kitchen-Counter Scientists Hack the Software of Life, Makers: The New Industrial Revolution, and “Maker Pro” by Maker Media. He is co-founder of Pearl Biotech, empowering scientists with a torrent of new research tools and practices. Tito was previously the Product Manager at Scanadu, a Silicon Valley startup bringing medical tools for the people to the people, and Co-Founder of OpenPCR, a company developing open source DNA copy machines to make biotechnology accessible on your desktop.

How did you find the space and funding?
The Kickstarter page that started it all:

Was building the Biocurious community hard? Who is/was part of the community & What types of equipment did you find you needed and what were the challenges you encountered?
Here’s a quora post I wrote on this:

What types of projects have you and the Biocurious team worked on?
They can be seen here:

What do you see as the future for biohacking in California and globally?
I consider this my best thinking the true secret of “BioCurious” and why biohacking is so enticing. I’ve given this talk all over the world and this version was filmed at Stanford in June:

Angela Kaczmarczyk | Co - Founder | Boslabs

Bos|Lab the new birth. They are historically one of the first biohacking lab on the planet, previously known as Bosslab. In an area where you can find more biotech companies than anywhere else in the world, it makes quite a lot of sense. And with MIT and Harvard communities around them, they share the very best and up to date science with the people.

The new name, simple and clean, enables the new team to show its commitment to this awesome project: sharing cutting edge science, in a simple way, in a good environment, so that anybody can understand our current world!

Tell me about yourself, the team you worked with to build Boslab and why did you build them?

 I recently recieved my Ph.D. in Molecular and Cell Biology from UC Berkeley. I studied developmental biology and towards the end of grad school I got my first taste of Biohacking when I saw Patrik D’haeseleer give a talk about Counter Culture labs at a synthetic biology seminar on campus. From that moment on I was hooked! After graduating I moved out to Boston in summer 2015 and found the original Boston Biohacking space known as BossLab through meetup. 

Around that time I met other driven and talented individuals who were also very passionate about the Biohacker movement. After initiating a couple of journal clubs we got together and decided that we wanted to do more and make the organization more active. Essentially, BossLab got a makeover and in early 2016 we became incorporated as BosLab inc. Our core team consists of 6 which includes Ph.D.s in molecular biology, Software engineers, and designers. We're excited to be a part of the growing Biohacker movement!

How did you find the space and funding?

This was easy for us, because BossLab had already set up lab space at the Sprouts Learning Center in Somerville, MA. This space is owned by Sprouts & Co., a Science Education non-profit which is establishing a project-based public school in the city of Somerville. We are very grateful to have connections with Sprouts & Co. and to have their support in our mission.

Was building the Boslab community hard? Who is/was part of the community?

It was easy to find people who were interested. We started out by running journal clubs and people of different backgrounds participated. We also held our first lab class where we introduced GFP into E. coli to generate green glowing bacteria. Our participants included software engineers, recently graduated Biology majors, and even a Ph.D. in Chemistry! 

We have people from various backgrounds involved in BosLab. Some have no biology background but really want to learn molecular biology. Others already have jobs in biotech/academia but either want to do science outreach or start their own projects outside of lab. 

 What types of equipment did you find you needed and what were the challenges you encountered?

We initially had most of the basic lab equipment, but some were broken or not fully functional. For example, for our transformation lab class, the incubator fluctuated between 30 and 40 degrees Celsius which was not ideal, and we also had to keep it shut by placing a garbage bin next to the incubator door. We recently got a new used incubator that is much more reliable which is something we really need for our current projects in the lab. Luckily it has been easy to obtain second-hand or liquidated lab equipment. Boston is a biotech hub so there are a lot of used equipment available for reasonable prices. Dennis on our team has been instrumental in helping us find useful lab equipment.

What types of projects have you and the Boslab team worked on?

We recently started some exciting new projects in the lab. Raphael, who is one of the BosLab co-organizers started the "Hack the Truffle" project. The goal is to isolate and identify microbes living on truffle mushrooms which produce truffle aromas, study these aroma compounds, and engineer e. coli or yeast to produce these compounds. Matt who is an active member of BosLab is running an exciting proof-of-concept project. Matt and his team are working to engineer yogurt bacteria to produce NAD+, which is an important molecule for metabolism and has been shown to extend lifespan in mice. We're excited to make progress on these projects and start new ones!

What do you see as the future for biohacking in MA and globally?

For the Boston area, it is home to major research organizations and pharma companies. It is hard to find a better place for the Biohacking movement. There is no doubt that the community will flourish here.

As for Biohacking in general, it is playing the same role for biotech as the hacker culture did for the computer industry of the 70’s. It brings molecular biology to people outside of mainstream biotech industry. If the history of computer industry is any indication, then great things await us ahead.

The community has already made immense progress. It started from small groups of people building rudimentary lab equipment and now has moved on to real biology. Our prediction is that you will see more synthetic biology projects in the next couple of years. It is hard to predict what will happen beyond that because of the speed with which science advances.

Heather Underwood | Co-Founder | Denver Biolabs

Denver Biolabs (DBL) is a community resource for do-it-yourself (DIY) biology. Our community is a vibrant, interdisciplinary group of curious thinkers and self-motivators who want to learn, work, and play with bio-related concepts, tools, and projects. The primary goals of DBL include (1) developing and fostering a vibrant community around biotechnology through “meetups” and community events, (2) provide a physical space for this community to learn biological techniques and gain confidence and effective low-cost lab tools and techniques using DIYBio methods and resources, (4) engage the academic and entrepreneurial community of Denver, and (5) ultimately become the first community biotech lab in the Denver area for individuals seeking knowledge, resources, and space to develop their ideas and companies. 

Me: Tell me about yourself, the team you worked with to build Denver Biolabs and why did you build it? 
Underwood: I (Heather Underwood) am an Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado Denver and the Associate Director of a new initiative here called "Inworks" - an interdisciplinary human-centered design-focused academic program. My background is in computer science and I did my dissertation work building digital pen software platforms for midwives in Kenyan hospitals. I have always been interested in human aging and extending healthy human lifespans, and after finishing my PhD my interests turned toward the DIY-bio movement and the possibilities of synthetic biology. I met RJ Duran, DBL co-founder, in Denver and we realized that we had a bunch of common acquaintances through the DIY-bio scene in the Bay area. We both had spent time at Berkeley Biolabs, BioCurious, and Counter Culture Labs, and knew Ron Shigeta and Ryan Bethencourt. RJ and I both saw the need to find and bring together this community in Colorado, so we started Denver Biolabs. 

Me: How did you find the space and funding? 
Underwood: Denver Biolabs is fortunate enough to be hosted by Inworks at the University of Colorado Denver. DBL members use the Inworks classrooms to host guest speakers, hold meetings, etc., and has access to the small but growing biolab at Inworks. The symbiotic relationship between DBL and Inworks has allowed DBL to focus the majority of its time and energy on growing the community and starting projects, and less on finding funding and space for now. This year, DBL is going to send a team to the iGEM competition in October, and we are currently running a Generosity crowd-funding campaign to raise money to this year's competition. The community support, both monetarily and in equipment donations and time, has been really inspiring, and we recently received an anonymous donation for $2500 with a promise to match funds raised between now and the end of February. It is a really exciting time for DBL, and it definitely feels like we are on the verge of needing a bigger space outside of Inworks. This is something we are turning our attention to in 2016. 

Me: Was building the Denver Biolabs community hard? Who is/was part of the community? 
Underwood: Denver Biolabs started as a group on, and our membership grew pretty quickly. Our members have a wide range of ages, skill-levels, occupations, degrees, and aspirations, but a common interest in DIYBio and the opportunities of this growing field. Denver Biolabs is one of Colorado's only DIY-bio groups, which has made it pretty easy for interested people to find us and become part of our community. 

Me: What types of equipment did you find you needed and what were the challenges you encountered? 
Underwood: Our lab space in terms of equipment has grown pretty slowly. We started with three microscopes, and then ordered a home-school biology kit, which came with some basic supplies, reagents, etc. We also ordered a mini-fridge/freezer, which seemed essential early on. We have made a few pieces of equipment using open source plans - we 3D printed a "dremel-fuge" attachment and used the Inworks drillpress to spin down some blood samples, and we used a laser cutter and an Arduino board to build a centrifuge and the beginnings of an incubator. We believe in DIY for building biotools as well as doing bio. When we launched our crowdfunding campaign, we also got several responses from people who wanted to donate equipement including The ODIN, which donated a PCR machine and some of the other supplies we'll need for our iGEM project. So far, thanks to the support of Inworks and the generosity of our community, finding or making the equipment we need hasn't proved too challenging. 
Me: What types of projects have you and the Denver Biolabs team worked on? 
Underwood: We have worked on a number of projects at Denver Biolabs since we started last year. We worked on designing a real-time blood-alcohol sensor, we have experimented with molecular gastronomy, we have a group working on building a python genome sequencer, we are building biotools including a bioprinter, and now we are embarking on our iGEM project to produce oxytocin to make it more cost-effective, transportable, and accessible to clinics in the developing world.

Me: What do you see as the future for biohacking in Denver and globally? 
Underwood: I think the future for biohacking right now is pretty limitless. Currently there is just so much we don't know and the field is full of possibilities and opportunities, and I think one of the best ways to accelerate progress and discovery is to make biology accessible to a much broader audience. That's the goal of Denver Biolabs. Given how much DBL has accomplished in one year and the size of the community that has come together around DIY-bio, the future of biohacking in Denver looks very bright. I wouldn't be surprised if we see some of our members starting companies or going to work for bio startups this year. Our goal is to help with education, space, and resources as much as we can and then get out of their way! DIY-bio and biohacking are really starting to take off, and we are thrilled to be part of it. Denver Biolabs is looking forward to a very productive and collaborative year.

Tommaso Vannocci | Will Beaufoy | Directors | London Biohackspace

London Biohackspace is a community run molecular biology and microbiology lab based at the London Hackspace. Our lab has been developed around the principles of the DIYbio code of ethics; its primary purpose is to provide access to lab equipment and bench space, for use in a safe manner, for individual or collaborative projects.The strength of the biohacking and DIYbio community is the diversity of its members. London Biohackspace hopes to encourage enthusiastic amateurs and professionals with backgrounds in a broad mix of professions such as artists, engineers, biologists and programmers to carry out innovative bioscience projects.
In late 2010 'Bugs', a molecular biologist and member of the London Hackspace, which at the time was based in Hoxton, gave a talk at the hackspace called 'Intro to Biohacking'. After that a group formed, meeting weekly and organising themselves using the hackspace wiki. Bugs helped initially with sorting out some equipment and starting some projects, but after he left the group was largely made up of amateurs, mostly doing experiments trying to extract DNA, PCR it and analyse it using gel electrolysis. These sorts of experiments went on in 2011 and 2012. Here's a BBC video segment from this time. We also registered officially as a company so we could purchase reagents more easily, and settled on our name as the London Biohackers / Biohackspace. We collaborated with UCL's 2012 igem team, helping to make a 'public biobrick'. In 2013 the London Hackspace moved to larger premises in Hackney, taking the biohackers with it. Here we had more space and managed to obtain some more equipment, and we took part in igem 2014 and 2015. 

Me: Tell me about yourself, the team you worked with to London Biohackspace and why did you build them? 
Will: I was working as a web developer when I joined the London biohackspace. I didn't have experience in biology but always thought it was interesting. The others came from a variety of backgrounds, e.g. art, social science, programming, and some biologists
Tommasso: I am a molecular biologist and I have been in this field for at least 10 years. I work for King's College London as a researcher in neurodegenerative disorders. Unfortunately the job is taking a toll on my spare time therefore, in these days, I am not involved with the biohackers as much as I'd like to. At the moment I support the group by taking part in the committee that approves new projects and that gives guidelines on health and safety. 

Me: How did you find the space and funding? 
Will: The London Hackspace already existed and we started as a subgroup of them. London hackspace is funded from membership contributions. Biohackers paid a small amount extra each month for equipment
Tommasso: As Will said, we personally fund our projects by putting a weekly contribution in the biohackers' kitty plus we look for donations in the form of secondhand lab equipment. Our budget (at least until I was actively participating) has never been big but we had the fortune of getting the support of different labs around London in the form of consumables and old equipments. Plus we have really skilled "hackers" that fix/transform/build equipments for us. 

Me: Was building the London Biohackspace community hard? Who is/was part of the community? 
Will: We let people find us online then come to us. We also did a few outreach events Tommasso: The London Biohackspace is a heterogenous community made of a wide variety of people that come and go. Sometime getting some big project going can be hard but the diversification of opinions and experiences is also the strength of the group. I had awesome conversations with the biohackers and discussing scientific topics is always extremely engaging. Especially for someone like me that is used to the "old fashioned" scientist talk. 

Me: What types of equipment did you find you needed and what were the challenges you encountered? 
Will: We obtained some equipment off the internet, some from old labs throwing out stuff, and some we made ourselves
Tommasso: I think the biggest challenge has been moving to the new Hackspace site and build a new lab from scratch. I had so much fun. It has been a challenge but also a big reward: I was extremely satisfied with the result and I am still very proud of what we achieved. 

Me: What types of projects have you and the London Biohackspace team worked on? 
Will: We started doing DNA analysis using PCR and gels. Now there are various projects going on including stuff for igem, but I don't know what they are exactly. 

Me: What do you see as the future for biohacking in London and globally? 
Will: As for the future, my personal opinion is that biohacking will continue to be a hobby and educational experience for people, but I'm skeptical of big commercialisation opportunities because of regulational restrictions and continuing large funding requirements for big projects. 
Tommasso: For the future of biohacking: I think it will grow as a hobby and it will have a really important role in bringing people in touch with science. Nowadays there is a lot of science talk in the news and on the web but the readers are usually misinformed. Science seems to be a fast-paced, highly successful discipline where progress moves at the speed of light but the reality is quite the opposite. As any biohacker (and scientist) can tell you, the scientific process is made, mostly, by a slow pace and continuous failures. I think that giving the opportunity to everyone to try hands-on the lab experience is the biggest result the biohackers community has achieved.

Brian Berletic + Hermes Huang + Bryan Hugill | Co-Founders | F.Lab - DIYBio

F.Lab – DIYbio are working hard to develop their own food and agriculture focused citizen-science lab-space in Thailand. They do DIY-everything, 3D printing, CNC milling, laser cutting, building electronics, woodworking and more. Some of it they do alone, some of it they play with others, and some of it is outsourced to others that can do it a lot better than they can (for now). 

Me: How did you find the space and funding? 
F.Lab: We currently don’t have a dedicated space since we’re just starting up (September 2015). We are a collaboration among several different organizations and individuals, with the founders coming from Raitong Organics Farm, Maker Zoo / Bit Magazine, and DSIL (Designing for Social Innovation and Leadership). Our activities are currently self-funded as we begin to explore the needs of the communities we serve and the technologies that are appropriate for our contexts here in Bangkok and rural Thailand. We’re looking into several options for funding from government, private, and bilateral aid sources for some of our projects. 

Me: Was building the F.lab - DIYbio Thailand community hard? Who is/was part of the community? 
F.Lab:  The community is still nascent, but as we talk more and more with students, community members, teachers, hackers, makers, shopkeepers, farmers, and more, we’re seeing an enthusiasm for the prospects of utilizing science at different levels for different applications. At this early stage, the toughest part really is convincing people to join our effort and share/learn what they can, in spite of already hectic work schedules and limited time available. DIYbio is still a relatively new concept globally, and even more so here in Thailand, especially when we link in the concepts of Open Source and P2P. However, we expect this to change in the near future as the makerspace and fablab movements establish themselves here as necessary and relevant. 

Me: What types of equipment did you find you needed and what were the challenges you encountered? 
F.Lab:  Having some equipment, even for demonstration purposes helps build support and enthusiasm. Also, some of the tentative first projects we’re working on require some basic equipment which we are determined to make on our own. In this capacity, were looking to Open Source and modular schematics in a sense that they can be improved incrementally as we learn. A centrifuge, magnetic stirrer, electrophoresis system, and a simple thermocycler all are projects others have tackled in a similar manner, so this is where we are starting as well. It also helps us get to know and develop relationships with people involved in the open-source lab equipment community. The challenges we encounter are numerous, but are inherently part of the learning process. Each one we overcome, whether it is determining what sort of motor to use in our centrifuge, or what power source to use for our electrophoresis system, gives us new technical insight we can apply to future projects. 

Me: What types of projects have you and the F.lab - DIYbio Thailand team worked on? 
F.Lab:  So far, we are involved mainly in advocacy -- for general awareness of what biotech is, what it can be used for now, and what in the near future it may be used for. We’ve done a workshop showing people just how easy it is to hack together basic lab equipment from discarded electronics, and this is the sort of activity we learn from that will help us organize more advanced workshops in the future.
A local university invited us to take part in a project designed to give absolute beginners hands-on experience in a molecular biology lab. This also gives us great insight into the challenges and opportunities that face us as we try to make biotech more DIY and mainstream. We’re also working on a delightfully disruptive p2p organic certification project, which incidentally, we’re actually looking for people to help us develop and to scale up to other countries around the world under Open Source and Creative Commons principles. 

Me: What do you see as the future for biohacking in Thailand and globally? 
F.Lab:  In Thailand it is pretty clear. People like to do things themselves, from the grassroots up to institution-level. They like to do things cheaper and more efficiently because of budget and resource constraints and they are excited about the prospect of escaping some of the costs and commitments that come with the biotech industry as it stands today. While our focus currently is on Food and Agriculture, in many other technological fields we have seen Thais do some pretty creative things to compensate for a lack of resources, and in biotech they are no different. Showing them that this seemingly “black box” technology can be opened and hacked by regular people will be the start of what we think will be a very sustainable biohacking community here. Globally, it is reasonable to assume that biohacking is going to eventually catch on as personal computers and personal manufacturing have. It will empower people and allow them to decide for themselves what is done with this technology, where, and when.

Llewellyn Cox | Co-Founder | Lab Launch

Lab Launch Inc is a 501(c)(3) non-profit working to establish a more dynamic biotech startup environment in Los Angeles.
Their mission is to enable LA’s scientists and entrepreneurs to develop their ideas in affordable, high-quality lab facilities, with access to services and a supportive innovation community to accelerate their success. 

Me: Tell me about yourself, the team you worked with to Lab Launch and why did you build them? 
Cox: I'm a molecular biologist by training. Lab Launch came about when I and my cofounders realised that many exciting new technologies and individuals were leaving LA to start up due to a chronic lack of independent lab space in the area. 

Me: How did you find the space and funding? 
Cox: We looked hard for space for appropriate space for several months before we met our current landlords and identified a suitable space. Initial funding was bootstrapped through the Founders, and much work was done by volunteers. We have more recently recieved sponsorship from corporate partners and our local municipality to build out the lab 

Me: Was building the Lab Launch community hard? Who is/was part of the community? 
Cox: Our comnmunity is diverse and growing. Our emphasis is on founders and early stage companies, but we are open to helping out anyone who needs space for their research. We even have a couple of "indie scientists" in our labs now. To help grow our community, we have also created "Biotalk", a regular series of networking/educational meetups to heolp scientists learn more about business and startups.

Me: What types of equipment did you find you needed and what were the challenges you encountered? 
Cox: Our goal is to provide all the essential basics people need in a lab - fridges, freezers, hoods, etc. With help from our partners at HappiLabs, we found some excellent used equipment, we have picked up some unused surplus from local Universities, and we even have some equipment pieces on long-term, no-cost loan from academic labs that have downsized or are in the process of shutting down. 

Me: What types of projects have you and the Lab Launch team worked on? 
Cox: In addition to creating high-quality space for startups, we endeavor to support our residents in all aspects of business startup. That means for us, we cover a lot of compliance and safety management through OSHA, hazardous waste removal, etc. We are also working to increase opportunities by organizing networking events, training programs, and outreach to the wider community to promote biotech entrepreneurship 

Me: What do you see as the future for biohacking in the CA and globally? 
Cox: This is a very exciting time for Life Sciences. We see biotechnologies making increasing headway into all segments of industry - from manufacturing, to sensors, to food, to environmental management, to fuel, as well as of course healthcare and nutrition. As these technologies become increasingly main stream, many new opportunities will open up for people at all levels of education. Just as with IT in the past few decades, this process will have cultural challenges as biotechnologies are increasingly market-focused and regulated, rather than "garage hacking" - we see a key role of incubators and community labs in providing essential containment and safety education so that all can benefit from the biotech revolution, while maintaining essential standards that will prevent overly-aggressive safety and compliance legislation.

Andres Ochoa | Founder | SynTechBio

SynTechBio created the first Biohacker space in Latin America. Their online community Syntechbio (Community of 2000+ science lovers and tinkerers) began as a space for technological advances in Synthetic Biology and Biohacking. Their mission has always been to inspire and help to create a biohacker and a synthetic biology ecosystem in Latin America, as well as, support initiatives that improve access to this technology in the region. The physical space of their community was closed in 2015, which instead of being focused on space access in one country now is supporting all the Latin American region through the creation of the LATIN AMERICAN BIOHACKER SPACES NETWORK. Their Main Interest As Biohacker Space were Technologies to produce new materials and manufacturing processes using synthetic biology, Reverse bioinformatics (Computation in biological cells), Synthetic biology, Nanotechnology, Genomics, Astrobiology and Arts.

Tell me about yourself, the team you worked with to build Syntechbio and why did you build them?
I am the Founder and Director. My name is Andres Ochoa. My nickname is Don. Here is more info about me.
I have PhD in Biotechnology. While a PhD student I got involved in the iGEM competition and after that I got support from the laboratory of my Advisor (GaTE-Lab) in the University of Sao Paulo to open a Biohacker Space. It began as an experiment inside the São Paulo University, with the goal to accelerate the training of students in the synthetic biology area, to enhance multidisciplinary, and create an open-space to develop and share ideas that wouldn't be normally supported by the academic community in a research context. These ideas were embedded in an educational context, where the creation is a free process and the goal was the building of skills and creativity. 

After opening the first Biohacker space in Latin America (São Paulo - Brazil in 2012), our community has supported other initiatives in the region, enhancing the communication and action of the community as a group. This led to the creation of the Latin American Network of Biohacker Spaces. The physical space of our biohacker space was closed in 2015, now our community is supporting the entire Latin American region through the creation of the Network, instead of focusing on space access in just one country.

Was building the Syntechbio community hard? Who is/was part of the community?
We were people that had worked before in iGEM projects, so we already have some experience on doing projects out of the common laboratory mindset. At the beginning, the group was composed by students of the University but it was open to all the community because the São Paulo university is a public university.

After the closing of the physical space, with the creation of the network came a new team of people, each one located in different countries of Latin America. All of them also have or are in the process or creating Biohacker Spaces in their regions. We have members and coordinators. The coordinators of the network and their spaces are hubs of biohacking in their regions

Joel de la Barrera B. (a.k.a Billy) - Mexico. 
Manuel Giménez - Argentina.
Pierre Padilla - Peru.
Sofia Arreola - Mexico. 

The network already includes the groups from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, and it is expanding through the region. The network has two international advisors with broad experience in building Biohacker Spaces, Maria Chavez from Biocurious and Ryan Bethencourt from IndieBio-SF.  
What types of projects have you and the Syntechbio team worked on?
As a Bioacker space, our goal was to automate genetic engineering processes and help in the democratization of this technology. Democratization in this context means creating tools to break down the complexity and cost of the process, allowing these new types of materials/manufacturing processes to become available to the public/industry in general.

Our main projects were related to functional screening techniques to help in the discovery and standardization of biological parts (plant promoters and extremophiles genes) for use in synthetic biology, as well as, molecular automation (Plug&Play project) and education through iGEM participation support. If you want more info about our projects, is in here!our-history/r8w2z

More recently we did the first open source thermocycler of Latin America in collaboration with a maker space

How did you find the space and funding?

The involvement in the iGEM competition of the GaTE-Lab made them understand the potential of the open science. They supported the initial biohacker space with physical space, equipment and mentorship. We got some funding for reagents from projects we submitted to funding organizations in Brazil. 

What types of equipment did you find you needed and what were the challenges you encountered?

We used the common equipment that you need for growing bacteria, transform it with plasmids, extract DNA and analyze the results. We got into projects with plants and extremophiles which were more challenging.

What do you see as the future for biohacking in Latin America and globally?

Our online community of 2000+ science lovers and tinkerers is a space for technological advances in DIY-Bio, Synthetic Biology and Biohacking. Our mission is to inspire and help to create a biohacker and a synthetic biology ecosystem in Latin America, as well as, support initiatives that improve access to this technology in the region. We believe that biological engineering will power the technological revolution that will help us to make a better world. 

Meow-Ludo Meow-Meow | Co-Founder | BioFoundry

BioFoundry is Australia's first community lab for citizen scientists. Our mission is to democratise science by breaking cost entry barrier to science education and research. 

Me: Tell me about yourself, the team you worked with to build Foundry.Bio and why did you build them? 
Meow-Meow: The first thing people recognise about me is my extroverted and enthusiastic personality and love for science, technology and the future. I studied genetics at university but took a really long time to complete my degree, I kept finding fascinating tangents and taking time off to complete them. Ultimately, this gave me a really well rounded education and also showed me an insight into the realities of both the academic and private sectors. After working for a short time at a mycology lab during my degree, I realised I did not want to be a lab tech. I stumbled upon OpenPCR and then tried to find others that were biohacking in Australia. There weren’t any active groups. I decided then that I was going to start the first active Australian chapter. 
TEAM: The executives on the BioFoundry board are Adrian, Maria, and myself. On top of the core exec team there are a ton of volunteers.

Me: How did you find the space and funding? 
Meow-Meow: FIRST SPACE The Sydney government runs a service that aims to pair ‘creative types’ with low cost studios. The cost of rent in Sydney is comparable to San Francisco, and this was pretty daunting when we did not have an income stream. We found a space that met some of our needs, but we knew it was not perfect. We decided to take it for the time being, and then a few months later found a much more suitable space that is a 25m^2 spot that used to be a carpark. This space was a lot easier to get up to PC1 standard (roughly BL1). We are in the process of becoming certified currently. 

Me: Was building the Foundry.Bio community hard? Who is/was part of the community? 
Meow-Meow: MEETINGS Our first meeting had around 50 people, which was much larger than we expected. We continued to meet monthly and membership shrunk over time to about 15 people. Meetings were so much fun that we decided to have them fortnightly, and found a permanent location at a meeting room at ATP innovations. This is where the core team really bonded and we were able to crystallise our vision for what our lab would eventually look like. After heaps of trial and error we found a winning formula for meetings was 23 speakers giving short, 20 minute presentations followed by 10 mins of questions. Then close the meeting and head to the pub for informal conversation. This allows for strong bonds to be formed between previously disconnected parts of the community. 
KEY PLAYERS The community in Sydney has a solid core, and an extensive dynamic group that supports us. The people that have been around the longest are Mat (microbiologist, electronics hacker, general allrounder), Dr Nicky (Cell Biology, secretary, safety), Adrian (Project Manager), and myself. Since the conception of our lab though we have had scores of people stepping up to help out and build. Recently we have had people involved in metalwork, artists, writers, and all sorts of others coming in to use the space. We also have some people recently that are using the space to prototype products that are intended to have a commercial application.

Me: What types of equipment did you find you needed and what were the challenges you encountered? 
Meow-Meow: GAINING EQUIPMENT- During the early days of our meetings, the majority of the members were at university.When we told staff and academics about what we were doing, we found a mixture of opposition and support. By aligning ourselves with the supporters we were able to rapidly get more equipment than we could store. Some of it was broken, all of it was old, but eventually we managed to get a worldclass functioning lab.
After we got some media attention we suddenly found ourselves getting calls from other labs and businesses that wanted to donate equipment. We hope that our excess equipment will now flow into other labs in Australia as they form. BUILDING EQUIPMENT- I really prefer people to build their own equipment.There are large numbers of resources online that facilitate this, and the person building it can learn how the machine works from first principles. This allows MacGyverlike abilities when conducting experiments. It also gives you an appreciation for the quality and cost of commercial equipment, for better or worse. Having protean abilities is a hugely desirable trait and should be the end goal of hackers, and will really impress the people you work with. CHALLENGES GOVERMENT- Australia has quite strict regulations surrounding gene technology. From our third meeting we had already made government contact and this has been a constant and high level consideration for us. Across the years we have formed a close relationship with the regulatory body and advise them of all relevant concerns. We have been working openly with them to construct a well regulated, safe, and professional DIYBio scene here. The caveat to this is that we have to set the bar very high, and this is very time consuming. There is quite a lot of bureaucracy involved and a large administrative burden, which can be really hard to maintain with a group of volunteers. We feel overall that it is in our best interest to do so, by improving safety of members, increasing public support, and giving the movement credibility.

UNI- We have had both positive and negative reactions from the univerisities. The worst reaction we have had was an academic threating to send bioterrorism police to my house, and a dean telling us we were reckless and could potentially destroy science in Australia. We found the best way around this was to refer them to the government body that regulates us, and advise them that everything we are doing is legal and subject to the same regulations as any other lab in Australia.
FUNDING- We incorporated as a notforprofit in November 2014. Our lawyer, Nathan Papson, advised that we would most likely be eligible for charity status, and with his help we obtained it under the category of ‘education’. This gives us significant tax benefits, but it is still a bit tricky to get the costs of the space covered. A decision was made early on to only take projects on a casebycase basis until we receive government certification to ensure all projects are legal. Because of this funding has been hard to obtain. Ideally we would love a government grant, but in Australia most grants are “matched”; basically they will only give you money if you already have it. If I could go back in time I would start crowdfunding and raising money long before we opened through things like fundraisers and selling kits.

Me: What types of projects have you and the Foundry.Bio team worked on? 
Meow-Meow: LAMP DIAGNOSTICS- We entered a 10 person team into Australia’s biggest hackathon, Hackagong. Our goal was to create a microfluidic qPCR that is quick to assemble and cheap to make. When you tell the average person what a qPCR is their eyes glaze over pretty quickly. The best way to overcome this technological barrier is to give the device a specific use, in this case we branded it as an athome sexually transmitted disease screening test.

We developed a working (as far as we can tell) prototype. After a short break across 2015/2016 new year, we are gathering the team to get this product to a stage that it is ready for commercial sale. Since the competition we have obtained all relevant reagents and are ready to tidy up the fluidics and electronics. This was a great project because of the diversity of the skill sets required to complete it. It required marketing, electronics, biology, data processing, and ability to interrogate journals. It really allowed everyone in the team to play to their strengths and I advise anyone going into a competition like this to try and pick a project that has similar attributes.
VEGAN MEAT- We have recently partnered with a plantbased burger restaurant to start work on a lab grown meat project. The project would be incredibly difficult and expensive to complete, so we have decided to focus on creating products that are involved in cell culture that are expensive, but should be able to be created for much cheaper and then bootstrap from there. This project is rapidly advancing, and we should be able to make a big impact with the products being produced.
ANTI MOULD PAINT- A corporate sponsor has requested that we collaborate on an antimould paint. We are trying to use products from nature to create this. The equipment is open source and the product itself uses products from fungi. The end goal is to reduce the toxicity in these paints, and hopefully allow them to be cheap enough to be used in the tropics during natural disasters in emergency accommodation.
MUSHROOMS- We regularly run courses in our lab teaching mushroom propagation. Although not technically difficult, it does require meticulous aseptic technique, and is helped greatly by access to a laminar flow hood. Courses are a fantastic way to engage the community and enable skills sharing. They can also be a great revenue stream.

Me: What do you see as the future for biohacking in the Australia and globally? 
Meow-Meow: AUSTRALIA- We have had a huge acceleration in biohacking in Australia. It took us over 3 years to get our first lab started, and then a couple of months afterwards BioQuisitive popped up, and now groups are forming in Brisbane and Perth. Ideally I would love to see large scale biohacking facilities in every capital city, with satellite and mobile spaces serving the rural parts of the country. Biohack spaces are truly disruptive. They allow a bridge between university research and startups by allowing prototyping and developing. In this way I see them as essential to the nation’s new innovation plan. They allow a space for people to really get a product ready for incubation and sort out all the kinks without having to worry too heavily about IP or lacking a certain skillset (as other hackers can often help).We are becoming more heavily connected with our neighbours in the AsiaPacific region. I can’t wait for regional summits where we can all meet and work with people from this culturally and linguistically diverse region of the planet. I would love for the biohacker spaces to integrate themselves into the community and act in a similar fashion to a local library or workshop, with people using the space regularly to ask questions, sequence, and build things.
GLOBALLY- Biohacking is huge. I think this movement will have a profound impact on the course of humanity. I seriously believe that this will be as big as the computer revolution of the mid-80’s but with far more profound implications as things like CRISPR and augmentation become more accepted and commonplace. IN the short term, I expect a serious disruption in the way that biotechnologies are created and viewed, as we see a shift in innovation being carried out in the lab funded by government grants, to crowdfunded products being manufactured in response to consumer demand in biohackerspaces or garages.
In the mid term, I see a huge proliferation of these spaces globally and large scale interactions and collaborations. There will be a shift towards international projects that will combine biohacking and academic forces to approach big problems and goals. The big ones that will be tackled will include climate change, poverty, hunger, and medical diseases, and also a huge push towards create things to allow our expansion into space. In the long term, I see biohacking as being as common as brushing your teeth. We would have intimate control over our microflora and genetic states. Biohacking will become personal the way that our computer and phone networks are. Much like your phone is an extension of yourself, I see biohacking going in a parallel direction to computing. I think th an end to aall disease and natural death will be helped in huge part by biohackers and I don’t see those goals as unrealistic in the next 100 years.

Cory Tobin | Co-Founder | The LA Lab

The mission of The LAB is to make science accessible to people of all ages and educational backgrounds. We do this by providing laboratory equipment and workspace, resources which are typically out of the reach of the amateur, to anyone passionate about learning. We put on classes geared towards beginners so anyone can join and we organize open meetup days where newcomers can mingle with veterans to exchange ideas. In addition, we allow members to use our common resources to work on their own research projects. We believe the combination of an open laboratory and cutting edge research projects makes for an exciting learning environment.

Me: Tell me about yourself, the team you worked with to build LA Biohacker lab and why did you build them? 
Tobin: At the time that we created our group I was a phd student at Caltech. Me and many of the other early founders were working on small projects in our apartments or garage. Some were students like myself and some were working in completely different fields. We had met at a conference in LA in 2009 and started meeting up at coffee shops, discussing how to get a lab going in LA. One of the founding members, Tor Solli-Nowlan, was a member at Null Space Labs and managed to get us a small corner of that hackerspace to use for ourselves.
At the beginning we did not have a clear goal. We were doing it because we wanted to do it. Everyone had their own pet projects and we were a loose knit community that basically existed to pool resources and socialize. Eventually things became more serious and we became more organized once we saw this group being a permanent institution.

Me: How did you find the space and funding? 
Tobin: Initially Tor found us space at Null Space Labs. We then moved to a garage, free of rent. After we outgrew that space we started looking for a more proper location for our group. We searched Craigslist and found a really scary looking warehouse unit on the 6th floor above a door factory.
As for money, since day 1 we have always survived off of monthly membership fees. We have never done any major fundraising, or at least been successful at it. Occasionally we offer classes which brings in some money but mainly just membership fees.

Me: Was building the LA Biohacker lab community hard? Who is/was part of the community? 
Tobin: The most difficult part is organizing a group of people composed completely of volunteers. Organizing employees is fairly easy because they tend to show up on time and follow the boss's directions. Volunteers come and go as they please and have their own strong opinions about how things should be done. Organizing volunteers requires a patient leader rather than just a boss, which is more difficult to accomplish.
The community is composed of a wide variety of people who range in age, education and biological experience. Our youngest current member is 11.

Me: What types of equipment did you find you needed and what were the challenges you encountered? 
Tobin: The most challenging pieces of equipment to get are the big things like biosafety cabinets. You can't just get FedEx to deliver it. They weigh 600+ pounds and require a lot of planning to move. But you can get them for practically free if you're willing to move them.
But the largest challenge is helping people with less lab experience get up to speed on laboratory practices and experimental design. I still don't have a good solution for this, so its an experiment in itself.

Me: What types of projects have you and the LA Biohacker lab team worked on? 
Tobin: Mostly microbiology and synthetic biology related. Right now we have one person propagating carob trees through tissue culture. One student studying telomere lengths in protozoans. One person doing CRISPR in plants. And many others.

Me: What do you see as the future for biohacking in the LA and globally? 
Tobin: Locally I hope to grow our lab more. Not necessarily in physical size but in people and more advanced projects and capabilities. I think globally we'll start to see labs appear in more and more cities. Right now they are mainly in large metropolitan areas but I think that's going to change.

Jaime Sotomayor | CEO & Co-Founder | Arcturus Biocloud

Arcturus BioCloud is a biotechnology startup on the outskirts of San Francisco that hopes to give science hobbyists the ability to gene splice their way to super bacteria with a few clicks on their laptop. 

Me: Tell me about yourself, the team you worked with to build Arcturus BioCloud and why did you build them? 
Sotomayor: Founding Team Chief Executive Officer (CEO): Jaime Sotomayor. System engineer, a serial entrepreneur, has been two times startup CEO. A former university professor at the Business and Engineering School, Universidad de Lima. Singularity University alumni (GSP14). Recipient of MIT Innovators Under 35 Awards (Peru). Chief Technology Officer (CTO): Luis Silva. A serial entrepreneur, hacker and transhumanist. Singularity University alumni (EP10 & GSP14), founder of an investment holding focused in disruptive technologies, sits on the board of few fintech and healthcare companies. Chief Innovation Officer (CIO): Pedro Terra. Digital manufacturing consultant, with 12 years of experience building from sailboats to CNC machines. Has been two times startup CEO. Singularity University alumni (GSP14). Chief Scientific Officer (CSO): Andrés Ochoa. Ph.D. in Biotechnology, with more than 12 years in genetic engineering. Former University researcher at Universidade de São Paulo. Former iGEM team leader and founder of syntechbio, first biohacker space in South America. We built Arcturus BioCloud because we believe that bringing an outsiders perspective into this fast growing field could disrupt the status quo the industry. Many things are still performed in the old fashion way, and technology is changing in a more rapid pace.

Me: How did you find the space and funding?
Sotomayor: We believe it was critical having the IndieBio space, not primarily because of the Lab space but rather for the connection aspect. Being together with our whole team and with the other teams made the development of your company faster. Increased the speed from which we could get acquaintance with partners, clients and investors. Also having support from IndieBio is great, I would think that was more worth than the funding.

Me: Was building the Arcturus BioCloud community hard? Who is/was part of the community? 
Sotomayor: There are many people interested in synthetic biology, and they like what we propose. It's harder to reach people that work in a more institutional environment where change and adaptation are not part of their DNA. At the moment, most of the members of our community are biohackers, enthusiasts, software developers and scientist.

Me: What types of equipment did you find you needed and what were the challenges you encountered? 
Sotomayor: Because our company is web-based, most of the equipment we required was found it in the lab. The challenges that we encounter was finding an infrastructure that we can build our platform. We've contacted several service providers, but they are still very old-school.

Me: What types of projects have you and the Arcturus BioCloud team worked on? 
Sotomayor: We started out providing basic constructions for small customers. Afterwards, we developed a bacteria that produces insulin. We are now working on new projects both in bacteria and in yeast.

Me: What do you see as the future for biohacking in SF and globally? 
Sotomayor: I believe that hackerspaces will become less hardware focus and become more of a software and people place. If you look at the old IT hackerspaces, people were building computers and devices. Today most of those people are creating software (e.g.: Sudo Room). I believe biohacker spaces will have the same future. Work with people remotely, design organisms and execute your project with a service provider. That is the future Arcturus BioCloud is work to create.

David Apfel | Programmer & Co-Founder | DIYBioBA - Biohacking Buenos Aires

DIYBioBA – Biohacking Buenos Aires is a movement of citizen science in order to create access to biology and biotechnolgía to ordinary people, with or without academic traditionales and outside areas such as universities and training companies . The idea is to create " garage laboratories " inspired by the maker spaces where neighbors , youth, artists , entrepreneurs, the cashier at the supermarket, opposite the abu , scientists, bioethicists, etc.

Me: Tell me about yourself, the team you worked with to build Biohacking Buenos Aires and why did you build them?
Apfel: I came to Buenos Aires last year and was wondering if there was a biohacking group, because I was member before in DIYbio Barcelona. I meet interested people and we found this group. Argentina has a native DIY mentality and I believe it will surprise the world soon!

Me: How did you find the space and funding?
Apfel: We don't have a physical space yet but we do have continuous meetings with presentations and projects.

Me: Was building the community hard? Who is/was part of the community?
Apfel: No, there is enormous potential and enthusiasm in Buenos Aires! There are people with all kind of backgrounds: synthetic biology, virology, genetics, neurology, bioart, computer science, physics etc. See a member list on our website.

Me: What types of equipment did you find you needed and what were the challenges you encountered?
Apfel: We build an incubator with Arduino! This was more to have nice chats and drink mate on a sunday afternoon. Let's say it was a symbolic incubator to get us warm.

Me: What types of projects have you and the biohacking team worked on?
Apfel: For now I guess the group has more the function as a meeting place for socializing, making contacts, brainstorming and building a community. We are still at the very beginning but I'm sure great projects will arise! We had wonderful presentations: Manuel Giminez talked about synthetic biology, Mat Falkowski presented IndieBio, Camila Petignat gave us insight into entrepreneurships in Chile and Southamerica and Emiliano Gentile gave us a good understanding of the central dogma and virology. I'm working currently as a voluntary for a neurogenetics research group in bioinformatics on exome analysis that I found via the group.

Me: What do you see as the future for biohacking in Argentina and globally?
Apfel: I (dream to) see it as a scientific institution coequal or even outperforming universities! Universities run the risk to become stiff, bureaucratic, old-school, closeminded, centralized, elite structures that lack flexibility and interdisciplinary to keep pace with technological evolution. We need to capture the vastly underestimated scientific potential of people who do not enter the acaddemic world for any reason like drop-outs, autodidacts, hikikomoris, ghetto kids, people who cannot afford university, lateral entrants and all kind of citizens like the sweet granny from next door. Society wastes half of its creative potential in front of TV.

Paul Giron | Co-Founder | Fab Lab Lima

Fab Lab Lima is a private, non-partisan, non-profit research center that has the mission to advance the state of the art of Digital Fabrication and to generate new interrelationships between Art, Science and Technology through applied research and creative inquiry.
It is founded by an iniciative of The Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA) of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) and the Fab Foundation.
One of its programs jointly with Fab Lab Network, is the diffusion, promotion and technical assistance for the deployment of Digital Fabrication Laboratories (Fab Lab) as a medium to increase technological infrastructure and to transfer capabilities for Science and Technology-based Innovation.

Me: Tell me about yourself, the team you worked with to build Foundry.Bio and why did you build them? 
Giron: I am one of the founders, I have works in media arts, jewelry and design but study engineering and most of my professional life worked as a project manager, because it was not possible to find spaces like this. We are now a team from different careers (architecture, urbanism, engineering, arts, design, law, etc) and an open institution (perhaps overly open), but we are working hard to make this lab the ideal place where everyone can explore their ideas. We see ourselves as enablers of experiments and generators of new labs. Most academic spaces tend to work over rigid structures and we dont want to become one. A few years ago some of Us received an scholarship to study digital fabrication at Fab Lab Barcelona inside the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia. We founded the Fab Lab because it is part of our mission to give back the opportunities that we receive, and to explore the interaction beetween art, science and technology.

Me: How did you find the space and funding? 
Giron: In our beginings we were working in the house of one of our founders, then we won a Public Contest in the Metropolitan Municipality and they offered Us a space in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MML), because of changes in the administration we moved into a new place, we have an strategic alliance with an Digital Art School: MGP and have a whole floor inside their building.

Me: Was building the FAB LAB LIMA community hard? Who is/was part of the community? 
Giron: We work in two ways: as an open community and as a non profit organization. Fab Lab Lima was founded to primarely work with digital fabrication endavours (bits to atoms), but we are expanding our work to include synthetic biology (bits to genes). Given we are a fab lab, we belong to a worldwide network of laboratories.

Me: What types of equipment did you find you needed and what were the challenges you encountered? 
Giron: We had to be very creative and work with alliances with several institutions in order to access their equipment. In the meantime we are developing our own equipment such as the openpcr and among others

Me: What types of projects have you and the FAB LAB LIMA team worked on? 
Giron: Most of them have been digital fabrication related: Emosilla, a digital fabrication workshop for kids, Digitoys, another digital fabrication workshop for kids, Amazon Floating Fab Lab, we want to put a floating laboratory of digital fabrication and synthetic biology in the Amazon River, We are part of the BioAcademany, a program in synthetic biology for the Fab Lab Network which its alpha edition was in 2015,

Me: What do you see as the future for biohacking in the South America and globally? 
Giron: We are truly interested to explore the possibility to create a cleaner manufacturing based on biology, and the natural resources we have not only in the jungle but also in the andean zone and the coast.

Pierre Padilla | CEO & Co-Founder | Fab Xpace Peru

© FAB Xpace lab is more than a conventional digital and analog manufacturing. It is an initiative where creativity, ideas and skills mix with the concept STEAM ( For its acronym in English : Science- Technology -Engineer -Arts -Math ) , to generate and implement projects of high impact, through work and provide both individual and multi -disciplinary . We look at each project staff and achieve collaborative acquire, enhance and implement the various skills in all areas involved . To promote research , development and innovation projects from the active , participatory and experiential learning . In short , we are a manufacturing itinerant space where: do we document and disclose , in order to share knowledge , creativity , innovation and experience.

Me: Tell me something about yourself, the team you worked with to build FAB XPACE and why did you build them? 
Padilla: The team: Ober Castillo - Electronic Engineer (Student) Jenner Martinez - Architecture (Student) Carlos Pedreros - Educator & Fine Artist (Bachelor) Armando Caballero - Engineer (Student) Pierre Padilla - Electronic Engineer (Bachelor) We created FAB XPACE because we faced the same problem: we wanted to make amazing hardware projects but we didn’t have space and enough tools to make them.

Me: How did you find the funding? And what are your plans for putting up space? 
Padilla: As a very committed team, we do everything at our reach to obtain our own resources, being the contribution of each one of us very important for the projects we work on. We also are trying to find sponsors / partnerships to increase our resources to develop bigger projects of high impact. We expect to get some funding by Peruvian government through STARTUP PERU (national competition).

Me: Was building the FAB XPACE community hard? Who is/was part of the community? 
Padilla: We met last year (2014) in the Peruvian Biomedical Group, an initiative promoted by Pierre, and later we became members of Open Biomedical Initiative ( So it wasn’t difficult to launch FAB XPACE because we have worked together before and know how the workflow between each of us. Now we are working with some collaborators as MakerLab PUCP and Instituto de Investigación Nutricional (IIN). What types of equipment did you find you needed and what were the challenges you encountered?
For amazing hardware projects, we needed modern manufacturing tools for personal scale. First we built a Prusa i3 3D printer (in our case we modified the height), it was an exhaustive work to collect and process all the information on the web, get all the components locally in Perú, assemble and make it fully operational. Then we developed a 3D scanner which was designed by us, with almost all its pieces 3D printed. These machines have given us excellent results and proved to be very effective.

Me: What types of projects have you and the FAB XPACE team worked on? 
Padilla: Now we are working on making machines that can be folded or have collapsible design keeping in mind that we really need them to be portable because they can be used at any place and in any time: A laser cutter, a CNC milling machine, a new 3D printer designed by us and also update and upgrade our 3D scanner. Besides, we are doing workshops, talks and lectures about digital and analogic manufacturing for academic and professional purposes. One of the most ambitious projects for 2016 is Biomakers Lab ( We seek to create one of the firsts BioHackerspaces in Peru. We want that this space enables schools, universities, students, scientists, engineers, artists, anyone who love biology to work in synergy and develop projects for positive impact to Latam community. We are at an early stage yet but we are negotiating with our collaborators from IIN. It will be essential to have some biologists and biotechnologists in our team. Fortunately, we already have the support by Syntechbio (Latam Network of Bio hackerspaces) who has excellent members and advisors. We expect to have the support from National Scientific Council.

Me: What do you see as the future for biohacking in South America and globally? 
Padilla: Accessible biology will be the next big leap for research and innovation. South America has people and resources for getting a place in the world but first we must work on building a community and training people. We need to work together as a region. Some years ago, you couldn't find easily biohacking communities because people didn't know about this or your country didn't allow you to learn about it. Today, we can learn different topics through Open Courses and Open Data. I think that 2016 will be a very important year for Biohacking. We will see new biohackerspaces and new people on the stage. The World's governments will have to create flexible policies about Biosafety if they want to see more scientific communities and biotech startups. We are at an early stage in South America as a community but Syntechbio will be the key player in Biohacking Game. Latam will have more presence in Biohacking scenario and scientific production this year. We are going to see how easy will be to build your own thermocycler or a wet lab. More people will get the access to build new concepts and technology in Biology wherever they are. Monopoly will die in some industries and we will decide what is better for us.

Andrew Gray | Co-Founder | BioQuisitive

BioQuisitive is comprised of a diverse group of individuals with a combination of experience in the sciences, community, teaching and being obtuse. Like all of their community members, they share a strong passion for science and supporting one another.
Their advisory board is made up of leaders in entrepreneurship, business strategy, science and much more. They act as their guides when it comes to navigating more complex obstacles moving forward.

Me: Tell me about yourself, the team you worked with to build BQ and why did you build them?
Gray: My name is Andrew Gray, 30 years old, I’m originally from the bay area (San Fran) but left early on at the age of 13 when my mom remarried a Tasmanian wine maker. So I grew up in Australia, finished high school, joined the US Navy and spent 4 years in the Pacific fleet and 1 year in Afghanistan. While in Afghanistan I happened upon a US base that had internet and started an associates in computer science, and did an elective in Biology. After doing that elective in biology, I fell in love with it. I left the military to study science and explore this new found appreciation for life it had given me. When I enrolled in University here in Melbourne Australia, I was a little annoyed at how little hands on science we were being exposed to and how “babied” the prac sessions were. After having to change Universities and start over due to financial reasons, I was even more annoyed and grew increasingly impatient. So I initially wanted to get involved with Biohacking to start practicing molecular biology and biochemistry sooner rather than later. However, the more i learned about BioHacking
and what this science inspired version of the maker movement had to offer, my outcomes started to, and continue to change.
Initially I wanted to team up with anyone that felt the same way I did, to get this off the ground. I started out by putting out a couple posts on reddit basically asking anyone and everyone to join the cause of making a biohacker space.
I was also impersonating alumni of various universities to post in almost all of the forums possible, social media, person to person, google forums you name it. I was targeting everyone from students to people who loved to repost pictures of I fucking love science. I found a couple of posts by Meow from Biofoundry in Sydney in the channel, and Chris Pendleburry who had previously made an attempt on the biohacker scene in Melbourne before. Chris and I met up and discussed incorporating as an association. I decided to be secretary he wanted to be president and we got some other friends to form the rest of the organization. So the first iteration, BioQuisitive Inc, was formed with anyone that wanted to help (BioQuisitive is an ode to BioCurious, we really liked the name and it reflected our primary drive to biohack).
Unfortunately, not really paying attention to who we had asked to join the team, their visions, and their abilities to contribute, meant most of the work was left up to me and we suffered massive decision paralysis due to opposing views. We ended up getting stuck in a conversation on whether or not a biohacker space was even needed (which I got really annoyed at). Eventually the vice-president resigned (who was a close friend of the president unfortunately) and positions changed. So we continued on with the BioQuisitive.
Soon more people were coming in and expressing their interest in helping. I was a bit more choosy and was relying more on the past experiences of the candidates and recommendations made by friends in the scene like Meow Ludo. Alicia Boyd came on next who took over as secretary, she also has a backstory which underlies one of our reasons for making such a space. She’s been invaluable. Then Toni Bode, who had a strong focus on community and lots of exposure to the biohacker scene in California
joined us. Jarrod Grainger-Brown, a fellow student at my University who shows a strong degree of competency in whatever he does, offered his services as treasurer. We then decided to restructure ourselves from an association to a company limited by guarantee due to liability reasons. A company limited by guarantee would cap our liabilities to the guarantee stated in the constitution. Chris left BioQuisitive as work life demanded his attention (he’s now chief scientist for his company). We now had Toni, Daniel (a close friend and mentor with a strong aptitude for framing important questions) and myself as directors, Alicia as secretary and Jarrod as treasurer, and many more members who are putting in a lot of their own time and money to make this work. Ollie Toth, Thomas Francis Cahir, Leeny Grace, Shaun Wheelhouse, Jake Port, and we continue to grow.
The process was a bit more go with the flow than strategic planning initially, whatever was working we stuck with and whatever wasn’t we didn’t. However now, we're a lot more strategic about moving forward. We create committees to handle various aspects of BioQuisitives key activities. Our committee officers report to the board and the board supports the committees.

Me: How did you find the space and funding?
Gray: Funding was done by doing a lot of BBQ fundraisers wearing labcoats and shouting out phrases like “Help science in Melbourne one sausage at a time!” we got a lot of interest, and some funds to help cover admin costs and eventually the down payment we would need on the space. We weren’t able to get the first space we had set our eyes on, which I’m happy we didn’t as it was almost 10 times more expensive than the one we got in the end in a more central location. Our current space costs $65 per week and is in a warehouse with other creatives with plenty of power tools to share around, bathroom (shower too), kitchenette and a dog. It’s only 4x4 meters but is the perfect starting point for us. Most of the costs have been covered out of pocket by the members and selling T-shirts and sausages and other fundraisers when possible have given us a safe little "cushion". The rent is cheap enough that we really don’t need much money to keep the space secure. We’re currently polishing the business plan to apply for grants. Having said that, we have received a lot by way of pro bono services. Our accountant Jacqueline Hodges is setting us up to become a science charity and has been key in getting BioQuisitive Inc. to BioQuisitive Ltd. One of our board of adviser
members, Andre Tan, has given us a ridiculous amount of support in business strategy and planning. Ensuring that we don't pigeon hole ourselves, and explore all of the opportunities available to generate revenue and deliver the best possible value to our community.
Recently Toni Bode and the rest of the crew have had a huge success in running a fundraising party which got us around $1k which should finish our renovations to become certified as a PC1 (BSL1) laboratory.

Me: Was building the BQ community hard? Who is/was part of the community?
Gray: After speaking with Meow Ludo, it was made quite clear the need to separate the biohacker community from the space. The end goal was to have vibrant communities of biohackers throughout Australia who would then go on to form hackerspaces from that community. It wasn’t very hard. Having a simple facebook group page and posting lots of content seemed to work at getting things started. Really I think it’s the shared desire to see this come to fruition here in Australia. Science has been kicked in the proverbial nuts pretty hard down under…pun intended. So everyone, I think, sees what this could become and supports it. It’s the right time for this here. After we posted some pictures of donated equipment though, we really started to gain more attention, seems seeing is believing.
The community is very diverse…our marketing research shows age ranges from 16 to 60’s, and every profession imaginable (primarily students and other people involved directly with science at some point) who have a shared passion for science, tech, and its accessibility.

Me: What types of equipment did you find you needed and what were the challenges you encountered?
Gray: We have been given a lot of equipment free. Universities are happy to repurpose unused equipment instead of letting it collect dust or throwing it out. BioTech here in Aus are closing up shop due to the cost of doing business here and moving overseas leaving a lot of equipment up for grabs. We wanted to cover the basics, PCR, gel, electrophoresis, centrifuge and pipettes but we have a lot more now like water baths, shaking platforms, scales, MiliQ water distiller, microscopes, gas chromatography and lots of glassware.

Me: What types of projects have you and the BQ team worked on?
Gray: To date we have yet to finish our lab, so we’ve been limited on what we can do. We’ve ran workshops decellurizing bacon with Molecular Biologist/Artist/Amazing human JJ Hastings. We’re working on hacking an air hockey table into a class 2 safety cabinet,

Me: What do you see as the future for biohacking in Australia and globally?
Gray: Making science, technology, and information accessible has the potential to change everything. Not just from an innovation in products/services way but also in a much more personal way. BioHacking is just the beginning and i can see similar movements in a variety of other fields occurring soon. From BioQuisitive we hope to engage schools in what we do, and provide an inexpensive way for entrepreneurs in biotech to turn ideas into proofs of concept. In addition, partnering with Indie.Bio will ensure if anyone comes up with a decent idea, they will have an avenue to take it to the next level while still owning the majority of the IP. The alternative at universities is to give up 60-70% of your IP and pay $1,000+ per month in lab fees. Indie.Bio offers a large amount of funding, guidance, mentorship and much more for 8% equity. These two options are literally worlds apart. For now, here in Australia there are 2 biohackerspaces. One in Sydney and one in Melbourne with a third in its infancy on the East coast. We hope that one day there will be BioHackerspaces just about everywhere in Australia like 7/11's supported by a large and vibrant community of individuals with a strong passion for science, and leaving the world off in a better condition than the way we currently have it.

Jay Hanson | Co-Founder | Berkeley Biolabs

Berkeley BioLabs’ mission is to accelerate biotech innovation through a collaborative, high throughput approach to scientific discovery and business development
Berkeley BioLabs enables scientists and biotech entrepreneurs to research and develop their products by providing economical lab facilities, a large biotech community and a host of services to accelerate their success.

Berkeley BioLabs (BBL) is a Biotech lab for both proto companies and individual scientists who want to get to their Proof of Concept quickly.
BBL offers a beautiful lab location with regular community events, scientific and business mentoring, and we have a range of pricing options. Our facilities and equipment are set up to support experiments ranging from molecular and synthetic biology to biochemistry through to organic and materials chemistry focused projects.

Me: Tell me about yourself, the team you worked with to build BBL and why did you build it?
Hanson: I was a former Director of Operations at Apple for Consumer Software for 11 years then I retired in 2008. I’m a citizen scientist and I taught myself with molecular biology.

Me: How did you find the space and funding?
Hanson: Along with Ryan and Ron Shigeta, our aim is to provide a platform for new biotech startups to provide low cost equipment and Education Outreach as well.
With regards to the space,we searched in Oakland, in some industrial places, warehouses
and we found this office complex and the landlord was also interested in investing.

Me: Was building the Garage lab, DIYBio & Biocurious community hard? Who is/was part of the community?
Hanson: Not that hard, a lot of people are interested and it only took us 1-2 months before all are settled.

Me: What types of equipment did you find you needed and what were the challenges you encountered?
Hanson: Equipment’s for synthetic biology, freezers, synthesizers, SDS page gel machines etc.

Me: What types of projects have you and the Garage lab, DIYBio & Biocurious team worked on?
Hanson: Batteries, wastewater, anobotics, identification, different diseases, synthetic fiber cells,

Me: What do you see as the future for biohacking in the U.S. and globally?
Hanson: It’s growing, more interesting and it’s even a community now. In the last 3 years we had Berkeley Biolab, Counter Culture Lab, BioCurious and I see it really growing and more people are engaging and there are even biotech labs now in Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Biotech labs Costa Rica, Taiwan and Toronto.