BioCurious, a hackerspace for biology and biotech, announced its official opening today in a blog post with an absolutely wonderful headline: "the next big thing to come out of a Silicon Valley garage."
BioCurious is just one of a number of interesting DIY- and citizen-science projects that give people outside the laboratory and outside academia the tools to be able to conduct experiments and make discoveries. One of the core beliefs of the non-profit is to make sure that "innovations in biology should be accessible, affordable, and open to everyone." That isn't simply everyone with biology PhDs (or Master's degrees or Bachelor's degrees). It's everyone.
Regardless of training, when it comes to conducting biotech research, as one can imagine, there's an incredible barrier to entry just in terms of lab space alone. As it stands, most labs are located in major corporations or universities. And lab rentals, when available, can be exorbitant. But after a successful a successful Kickstarter campaign earlier this year, BioCurious can now provide a collaborative lab space for biotech at a much lower rate.
Membership to BioCurious will cost $150 a month, which will give you access to the space itself -- and that includes office and collaborative workspace as well as to a full wet lab -- as well as to equipment like gel electrophoresis, real time PCR, incubators, fridges, and freezers. The organization plans to keep adding equipment all the time. Biocurious also plans on offering classes in biology and in the business of biotech, as well as providing informal and hands-on learning opportunities.
Biocurious is part of a larger movement to help open up access to scientific data and research, putting science in the hands of makers, creators, entrepreneurs, hackers, developers, scientists -- all of us. That's something that will ideally spur more innovation. But it's also something that, in the words of executive director Erin Gentry, speaking at OSCON earlier this summer, has been done "out of necessity and out of passion."