One of the benefits of funding a project like this through kickstarter is that you aren't beholden to the interests of traditional shareholders or government funding agencies. This means we can stay closer to our values and pursue a philosophy of Radical Openness and today we wanted to tell you about why we are doing this and what it means for you our backers.
Traditionally a project like this would have been done either in a research institute or in a company with investors. Both these groups would have required strong IP protection and patents. This has two effects, first it reduces collaboration and second it restricts progress as it makes it harder for others to build on this work.
Because of your support we are able to do something different. All of the output from this project will be released open source - the DNA constructs, the plants etc. If you get seeds from your plants they are your seeds to grow more plants or give to your friends as you wish.
But we will go one step further than this and will be sharing online all of the work we are doing - the ups as well as the downs. In fact our DNA designs are already publicly available and if you download Genome Compiler's software you can view them. We think this is the right model for DIY Bio projects because:
- It educates people about a process which is normally hidden from view which holds us accountable to you our supporters and hopefully inspires others to work in the field
- It provides an alternative real-time system of peer-review on our work* which should improve the quality of what we do
- It shares knowledge in real-time meaning others don't need to wait two years for publication in an academic journal before they can start building on the work
We are also really excited about what crowdfunding can mean for young scientists with cool ideas. Being a post-doc researcher working towards tenure can be a tough slog, but crowdfunding empowers them - and that can only be a good thing.
Antony, Kyle and Omri