Cathal Garvey, a bioengineer, on disintermediating life by tinkering, improving, crossbreeding and sharing a new wave of distributed biotechnology.

Meet... Bioengineer Cathal Garvey...

How are you promoting the concept of "new ownership: the shift from top down to bottom up"? 

Biotechnology is the oldest technology/industry that exists besides sharpened stones. It used to be distributed; freehold farms and subsistence cropping, shared surpluses driving local gift and favor economies. Today, most biotech is done by large companies in centralised plants. We have little control or ownership over our place in the food/medicine/ animal-breed/plant-landrace supply chain. I want to help drive a new wave of distributed biotechnology where ownership means more than possession; it means the right and opportunity to tinker, improve, crossbreed and share. I want to help disintermediate life!

What companies or organizations do you think "get" new ownership and are at the forefront of this mega trend in terms of their products, services, experiences and business models? 

Makerbot, Arduino and Adafruit Industries are three great role-model companies for me. They sell products that help make something but they provide them under liberal open-source licenses, challenging the argument that sharing only works for ephemeral things like text and software. Seeing their success convinces me that open-source DNA has a chance in the market.

Why did you agree to speak at PICNIC? What are you hoping to bring to the event?

Some of my EU collaborators and friends were involved in creating the GooDIYbio event at PICNIC, which lead me to hear about it. The overall event sounds really cool too. So I'm looking forward to taking part and meeting the other people. Some of my most enriching work has come from chance meetings at future-facing events like PICNIC.



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