Ginkgo goes to Foo

Ok, late post here (must get better at blogging). Reshma and Barry recently attended Foo Camp in Sebastopol, CA. We had a fantastic time, even the grass we camped on was super soft! We met a very interesting group of people and got a great reception for Ginkgo.

We led two sessions. The first was a hands-on session where participants engineered E. coli to either smell like banana, glow in the dark, or turn red. Needless to say, given the attendees, most people successfully engineered their bacteria. We won’t ask where they kept their cells warm overnight! You can take a look at the instructions and parts that we gave people here (of course, the real kit had the actual DNA on each part sheet:)) People seemed genuinely excited about how easy it is to engineer your own bacteria.

We also led a session on “How to start a biotech for $100, (ok, maybe $100k)” It was great to get the perspectives of so many people from the Web2.0 field on the value of an “open stack” in enabling innovation. Web folks can quickly launch new applications built on a platform of free web servers, databases etc. They can also capitalize on a community of users that enhance the value of the product. In biotech, we can take advantage of commoditized DNA sequencing and synthesis but the upfront costs and time required to bring a biological product to market still stifle innovation. Also, there is little adoption of network effects to build a platform for technology or to add value to the adoption of a technology. Bring on Wet2.0!

It was great to hang out with Annalee from i09 (running a cool Synthetic Biology competition at the moment), and checking out Make’s home with Dale Dougherty. Oh, and meeting Ze Frank was very cool, especially learning about his Dad’s role in solving the structure of the ribosome. We’re also looking forward to reading Mez’s book “More Than Human”. Finally, our thanks to Tim O’Reilly for the invites to Foo Camp, and it was great to meet so many people from O’Reilly. Their commitment to promoting interesting technology was one of the aspects of Foo that was most striking, just a very smart, very engaged team of people.

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