A Biotech Lab In Every Garage, Or In Every Library?
from the would-you-like-some-bacteria-with-that-book? dept
The garage startup occupies a mythic place in the technology world, with famous examples ranging from HP to Google. On the basis that if it worked for computers, it might work elsewhere, Rob Carlson wants to try it for biotech startups:
if we want to maintain a healthy pace of innovation in biological technologies, it makes sense that we will need to foster a profusion of garage biotech labs.
For those worried about the safety implications of synthetic biology labs springing up all over the place, he points out:
the emerging model of community labs (Genspace, Biocurious, etc.) is a good foundation to build on. The FBI already has a program in place to engage these labs. And as it turns out, the President has already signed a document that states garage biology is good and necessary for the future physical and economic security of the United States.
Those community labs mentioned are non-profit, which underlines an interesting divergence from the prototypical garage startups:
Not for profit and community engagement is definitely the way to go. I think most medium to large U.S. cities could support at least one community biotech lab.
That makes sense, since it would allow a collaborative, open source approach to developing this new area. That's not the only difference from the classic garage startup; Carlson thinks that garages might not actually be the best place to locate them:
I suggest that, following the recent model of installing Fab Labs and Hackspaces in public libraries, the USG should encourage the inclusion within libraries and other underused public spaces of community biotech labs. There are endless benefits to be had from following this strategy.
Maybe; but what would it mean for the great garage startup tradition?