Tom Meany from Open Cell in London discusses why more spaces for biotechnology would benefit the entire economy and how the democratisation of those spaces and making lower barriers for entry enables more innovation among start-ups.
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I guess when technology started to change was when you had a really low-cost entry point for. People in their bedrooms working on starting websites, people in small co-working spaces, can start designing web apps that can really impact people in a big way. I think we are at a similar point in biotechnology. A big passion of OpenCell is bringing down the barriers to entry for biotechnology. I guess our core value is to break down barriers to doing biotechnology. If it costs 10,000 pounds to do it, is there a way we could do it for 1000 pounds? Or is there a way we could do it for 100, because the more accessibility you create, the more kind of creative personalities and different types of people start getting involved.
"To draw the analogy with technology; A couple of things started to happen. You started to see these hubs forming the kind of Silicon Valley's. That is really amazing in terms of creating a critical mass. Here you've got Imperial College , with all that amazing talent, all of this really smart guy is doing biotechnology.
"You also have a range of space providers. Two great examples that we're really delighted to partner with are Huckletree based right here, where they provide amazing coworking space, really just easy for people to get a desk and get started with whatever it is they're working on. As well as that W12 is an amazing bar restaurant where people can just really get together, and have a couple of drinks and do their creative stuff. It is a big melting pot of biotechnology and creativity here in White City, sort of, at the edge of London's creative scene.
We are providing the access to the facilities to do biotechnology, such as the PCR technologies that you're constantly hearing about on the news, being able to access those expensive pieces of equipment. So what you're starting to see is an explosion in vaccines, diagnostics, drugs, therapeutics, all of these amazing things that are going to help us live better longer, more fulfilling lives. But at the same time, you're also starting to see people getting creative with biotechnology. I mean, my cotton trousers, and my woolen shorts are like bio biological fabrics, right? Biological fabrics are sort of the traditional fabric. "Now, we have people looking at sustainability and sort of the problems of how do we build fabrics and materials AND maybe even plastics that can be sustainable. And really, the answer is always determined to biology, a programming language, that's been developed over 2 billion years or something. So you've got a lot of knowledge built up there in that sort of ecosphere.
"One area of opportunity in biotechnology is to involve creatives coming from, computational science, fashion design, built environment, or construction industries, you've got all these people piling into biotechnology, because they can now grow stuff, they can maybe make it cheaper, they can make it so that it degrades, they can make it last longer, they could do all these different things using these DNA technology, they just they just couldn't have done before.
Another biological discipline that touches us, and always, is food. You've always eaten the stuff that's been made by nature itself, right? foods grown naturally. But at the same time there's a whole spectrum out there of opportunities that can change the way we work, right? "