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IndieBB: a DNA system designed to help you and your friends to explore genetic engineering and synthetic biology by making fluorescent bacteria at home.
Cathal Garvey
1 Team Member

Explore the world of biotechnology hands-on, by making your own fluorescent life form on your own terms! IndieBB is your gateway to the world of engineering life!

Biotechnology is the oldest, and most advanced, technology we have. Biotechnology is where we get our foods, our medicines, and the clothes we wear. Today, it's stepping out of the lab to become an integral part of our daily lives; someday soon, perhaps you'll have a bioluminescent night-light, or a fridge full of cancer-fighting blue tomato juice?

If you want to explore the world of biotechnology, IndieBB is the best place to start. With this kit, you'll learn about how genetic engineering is achieved, by making your own fluorescent bacteria! Using a cunning combination of carefully designed instructions, pre-packaged ingredients and (most of all) expertly designed DNA, you'll be able to get started learning how to reprogram the world around you in no time.

With this skill, you'll join thousands of pioneers around the world who are pushing the boundaries of what we can do using science at home. You'll learn the skills you need to make something amazing, maybe to change the world for the better. Even if you discover it's not your cup of tea, you'll have learned a valuable skill, and you'll know more about the exciting and controversial technology called "Synthetic Biology".

To make this happen, I need your help; this is an all-or-nothing campaign. With your help, I'll design, test and perfect a piece of synthetic DNA which will launch you on your way to becoming a genetic engineer!

To view the main video without Flash or proprietary codecs, see here

I'll happily accept bitcoin, see below for T&C!

What is IndieBB?

IndieBB stands for "Indie Biotech Backbone", because I want this to become the 'backbone' of your first and future projects, whether for school, for science or when you make the next big thing in biotechnology!

IndieBB is a kit containing a specially-designed sample of DNA and some safe, easy-to-grow bacteria. It contains a petri dish, some nutrients for the bacteria, and comprehensive full-colour instructions for use. Using the kit, you'll learn how to grow and handle the bacteria, and how to engineer them using the included DNA so that they turn bright fluorescent green:

This kit is designed for beginners! Unlike all other available kits, it does not require any ingredients you can't buy in a good pharmacy or supermarket. It uses some very clever DNA design 'under the hood' to make sure that you don't need odd materials such as antibiotics, dangerous solvents or impossible-to-find bacterial pheromones. It includes instructions that stick to the easiest methods I can find, so you don't need special equipment or any prior knowledge.

At the same time, IndieBB is designed to allow you to continue learning and developing your knowledge in a free-form way. It's designed so you can use it to make your own projects, by learning to edit the DNA to include genes that make biofuel, or produce rare and valuable materials, or help treat medical conditions, or simply make your bacteria smell like bananas! Because IndieBB will be strictly patent free and Open Source, you'll have every right to use your IndieBB for your own purposes. What will your IndieBB Be?

(Get more technical information here if you like)

Project Budget

The full amount requested is the minimum I think offers this project a fair chance of success.

  • 14 weeks' fixed expenses at €3000
  • 3 fully synthesised DNA prototypes at €6000 to ensure the quality I want in your kits.
  • Consumables, reagents, equipment and unforseeables: €2000
  • Supplies to fulfill your kits and contributions: €5000
This project is all-or-nothing; your committed money will not be charged if I cannot successfully complete the project on the money pledged.

Excess funds will go towards making this even better; if it all works out on the second prototype and I have cash left over, that could mean better packaging, design, an extra petri dish, or something else cool for my early adopters!

How else can I help?

If you can't financially support, or you're not personally interested but want this to succeed, you can still help in a number of ways:
  • Posting even a small comment of encouragement on this IndieGoGo project helps raise the project's "GoGo Factor" and move it up the list
  • Sharing this project on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, on IRC, Twister, Retroshare or even more esoteric platforms genuinely helps, and I'm very grateful to all who do so!
  • Telling your friends, family and fellow hobbyists or hackers. Let people know this is a great way to get started in the next wave of technology, and to help push biotechnology towards a more inclusive and open future.
  • If you have plenty of time and a bit of knowledge, you can help contribute to the wiki of global biotech regulations, which will help this and future projects plan issues like shipping and inform customers and collaborators of legal concerns.

Who are you?

I'm an independent biologist working in a lab I built in a converted room. My work has been featured in the New York Times, Le Monde, MIT Technology Review, and other publications. I've given well-received talks on Open Biotech at events both local and large, such as TEDx Dublin.

I'm responsible for Dremelfuge, an open-source hardware design for a laboratory centrifuge that you can print on a 3D printer and power with a dremel. I've written advanced gene design software which is likewise Free and Open Source, PySplicer.

I've been working on IndieBB for a long time, and I'm ready to give it the chance it deserves. In keeping with my firm ethic of openness and citizen science, it will be as Open and Free/Libre as I can make it, unfettered by patents or bad licensing.

Appendix A: Can You Ship Where I Live?

It's safe to assume "yes", but you must check for yourself whether you're allowed receive or use IndieBB. With the noteworthy exception of Australia I don't know of any country regulating import of the bacteria and DNA comprising IndieBB.

Whether you can use the kit is, sadly, another question entirely, and in much of the EU you'll have to find a community or academic lab who'll permit you to create a genetically engineered bacteria on their license, or get your own lab licensed as I and others have done.

Appendix B: Pledging with Bitcoin

I'm happy to accept bitcoin, and by request I'll even accept Litecoin for pledges. The address for bitcoin users is: 17bzYGE5xq5dPENKsSHN9rptPodBxazMST

As far as exchange rates, I'll honour the average exchange rate according to bitcoincharts at time of pledge. I'm maintaining a regularly updated cache of prices for the duration of the campaign and will default to the nearest timestamp when calculating the value of pledges.

If pledging by bitcoin, it's best if you email or private-comment first signalling your intention to pledge, and the amount you intend to pledge. Then, make the bitcoin transaction. Doing it the other way around might allow an opportunist to see a transaction on the blockchain and email me claiming it before you do. Bitcoin, eh?

I would rather that you pledge in the usual way, as it means less work.
Find This Campaign On
raised by 141 people in 1 month
73% funded
No time left
€16,000 EUR goal
Fixed Funding This campaign did not meet its €16,000EUR funding goal by the deadline.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on March 13, 2014
Select a Perk
  • €5EUR
    Stickers and Mad Props

    You get a packet of IndieBB vinyl stickers, suitable for brandishing on a laptop screen or tablet backing, and access to the private mailing list to get early updates on IndieBB and a unique insight into the DNA design and manufacturing process. All perks above this level include this perk.

    8 claimed
  • €12EUR
    Pin or Badge Swag

    In addition to the sticker perk, you also receive a custom-made metal lapel pin to show your pride in supporting independent biotech. This reward cannot be fulfilled without sufficient uptake, but will be substituted with a metal badge in this case. All greater perks include a pin or badge.

    4 claimed
  • €60EUR
    The Kit

    You receive lab strain E.coli, the IndieBB DNA, small samples of ingredients you need to get started, a re-usable glass petri dish, a full-colour instruction booklet and a CD containing digital instructions and the DNA "source code". You also get stickers and exclusive mailing list access as with the preceding perks.

    64 claimed
  • €120EUR
    The Teaching / Group Kit

    Includes enough resources for a small group to perform the beginner's kit in parallel and have extra consumables to spare. Useful for teaching or workshops!

    19 claimed

    Help With Your Own Project

    Receive consulting, DNA design advice, and assistance with literature research and review from me personally, for any project you like (subject to sound ethics). You'll receive a report of comparable quality to: http://www.indiebiotech.com/?p=152#comment-89 - Contact me in comments before pledging to assure I can help with your project!

    3 out of 3 claimed
  • €300EUR
    The Deluxe Kit

    Everything contained in the Teaching Kit, plus a Labogaz gas cartridge bunsen burner (cartridge not included) and a limited edition coloured dremelfuge (ornamental use only).

    2 claimed
  • €800EUR
    Your Name in IndieBB

    Fancy your name, encoded in DNA, as part of the final IndieBB kit? This perk will win you the exclusive chance to have a (non-expressed) protein-coding sequence that encodes your name (or another message?) included in IndieBB itself, so every kit and everyone's fluorescent cells will have a little bit of you. Please note; the RNA code lacks several letters, but we can use a special encoding format that suits you to fit your message/name in! Comes with the teaching kit for free.

    0 out of 1 claimed
  • €1,000EUR
    Be My Igor

    Come visit the lab in Cork, Ireland for a month and learn how to hack biotechnology on a budget. Bring your own project if you like! Subject to interview, full refund or perk reallocation if not workable. Accommodation and food not included!

    0 out of 1 claimed
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