Over $1 Billion Invested this Past Year: Synthetic Biology in 2017 with John Cumbers

What does it take to make it in synthetic biology in 2017?

Working as a bio engineer at NASA, John Cumbers founded SynBioBeta, the primary “activity hub” for the synthetic biology community. SynBioBeta will be putting on their sixth conference this year in San Francisco, along with conferences in London and Singapore. The young industry has seen a flourish of startups working on new genome engineering tools and a dizzying array of applications that include synthetic animal meat and synthetic human skin. Last month John partnered with Data Collective to launch a new seed stage fund for this space.

John is not only interested in startups. Currently writing a book with the working title, “What’s Your Bio Strategy?”, he is provoking existing companies to consider using biology as technology.

“The book is designed to be something we could take into [Apple CEO] Tim Cook’s office, and ask him what’s your bio strategy. And he says, 'I don’t have a bio strategy.' So you put the book on his desk and say give me a call if we can help you to develop one.”

When we first talked with John, he was heading up a program at NASA to develop building materials for use on Mars. Five years later, is John's number one goal in life still to settle the solar system?

Changing the World with Color Changing Flowers

Keira Havens is the co-founder of Revolution Bioengineering, and this week the company launched a crowd funding campaign (see video below) to produce flowers that can change colors.

And what is the revolution?

“We want to change the world,” says Keira. “We really want to make a difference in the way people think about biotechnology. For a long time it’s been the realm of large companies and behind-the-scenes labs, and we want to make it a part of folks' everyday lives.”

Keira hopes that a genetically engineered plant product which is not eaten or produced by a big company will not be as threatening to those afraid of GMOs and might possible affect the ongoing debate over genetically modified products.

The flower will not be available until 2017. So it could be some time before Keira and her team are turning a pumpkin into a stagecoach.

IndieGogo Campaign Video


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