Fourth stop in our tour of (bio)hackerspaces in North America: Berkeley Biolabs, a really promising “hackubator”, half hackerspace and half bioincubator, in California. We met Ron Shigeta, co-founder of this place.
Could you introduce yourself?
I have a PhD in biophysics from Princeton University and have done bioinformatics in industry for a little more than a decade.
What does hacking represent for you?
Nearly all of us who started Berkeley Biolabs met at Biocurious – the pioneering DIYBio space in the South Bay. BioCurious remains a great place with a lot of people from a lot of different skills and experience. A bunch of us were driving down there from the East Bay (about 150 km round trip) quite often, but it’s a long way! When the discussion turned to starting a space up around Berkeley, with our experience with industry we felt that a DiyBio attitude could really help create fantastic new companies by providing a space where someone can come in and just start trying out their ideas.
What do you expect from a hackerspace?
The San Francisco bay area is a fantastic place to do something new like diyBio and show its potential – to accelerate discovery and innovation. We feel that bioTech is a necessary part of a modern sustainable world. As a founder of a hackubator, that’s going to change the sort of science I’m focusing on. We’re building cloning systems, software, and parts which will particularly help bioengineering strains cells and organs. They will be, in the main open source or creative commons for anyone to use to bring their ideas into reality.
We’ve been open about 2 months now and the space is doing pretty well though it’s a lot of work. We have scientific collaborations, a brace of talented volunteers through our ‘Hackers in Residence’ program and some fantastic companies coming into the space in April.
>> Picture: Dailylaurel (CC)