View from the Bay


Emeryville, CA, October 12, 2018

This is the astounding nighttime view (from Emeryville in the East Bay) looking towards the Oakland Bay Bridge. In the background is San Francisco and its tallest building, the 61 floor (326 m) Salesforce Tower.  I took this one two nights ago while searching near the Emeryville Marina for an Amazon Locker (I found it!).

Well, this is all by way of prelude to note that for the last two weeks, I have been immersed in contemplation on disruptive innovation. My immersion included participation in SynBioBeta 2018, October 1-3, 2018, in San Francisco. Billed as the “Global Synthetic Biology Summit” SynBioBeta brings together innovators, investors, and thinkers engaged in the synthetic biology domain. One highlight was an amazing “fireside chat” (on stage with a large audience) between George Church and Steve Wozniak, key figures in synthetic biology and electronic engineering respectively. Around this, I have been going to other Synthetic Biology Week panels in the Bay Area, making company visits, and visiting with the Engineering Biology Research  Consortium at JBEI (the Joint BioEnergy Institute) in Emeryville.

Agar Paint

I also had the chance to visit the Counter Culture Lab  a community science project in Oakland, CA.  In their words, this is “a community of scientists, tinkerers, biotech professionals, hackers, and citizen scientists who have banded together to create an open community lab — a hackerspace for DIY biology and citizen science.” I had previously read about their Open Insulin project, so it was great to have the chance to see the lab and ask a few questions about this still-in-progress disruptive innovation project. While at the lab, I learned how to use engineered microbes to agar paint a possible new logo for the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research (MIOIR)…

Back to that pic, as I write, I am humming in my head Otis Reading’s classic “Dock of the Bay”.

I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Watchin’ the tide, roll away
I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay

But in my change to the next line, its “writin’ time!” There’s lots more to write about — and I am indeed starting to write up further reflections and observations from my visit.