News & Perspectives

Two Resource Trends: The Barriers to Innovation Keep Dropping

Two Resource Trends: The Barriers to Innovation Keep Dropping

Perspective// Posted by: Christine Mason / 19 Oct 2013

All over the world, we’re seeing the barriers to innovation continue to drop. Here are some that are on our radar now.

“BioMakerHackerLabSpaces”: Taking the Laboratory to the People

The physical barriers to innovation are dropping, just as they did with software innovation as the tools and technologies became more available and accessible. For example, wetlabs and other research spaces were formerly the exclusive purview of universities and corporations. But the emergence of DIY biology, biohacking, and other popular explorations in the sciences are the new garage autoshop. Labs that allow access without age or credentialing barriers are giving entire new populations the opportunities to make and explore in the biosciences. Here’s a link to a list (not comprehensive) of the DIY biolabs around the world. Also, to see the impact, check out this story on our friend Katriona, who at 16 is opening Seattle’s first biohacking space, HiveBio, and what drove her to do it.

Note too, how Jack Andraka, the Intel Science Prize winner articulates in his TED talk that one of his biggest barriers to getting his low cost early detection test for Pancreatic cancer off the ground was getting access to a lab. The future will not allow for this.

My business partner, Taylor, is working with a group of incredible thinkers and scientists on a major bio creativity space in San Francisco that will take this concept to an entirely new level.

On the non-bio side, MakerSpaces (aka FabLabs, Hackspaces, the entire Maker Movement) are also in line with this re-popularization of physical production and experimentation. Rapid prototyping, 3D printing, challenge nights: these spaces combine tools, ethos, and community to create little innovation hotspots.

Ginormous Public Data Sets and APIs: What do you want to know?

Another huge trend, one that is related somewhat to what seems to be a universal “big data” meme, is the public availability of expensive, massive, and difficult to collect data sets for analysis, framing, and use. The data -in the form of raw instrumentation feeds, accumulated sets (old and recent), video, satellite imagery, streams, and indexes – are derived from domains as varied as the genome, the ocean, climate, music, the economy, and more. Yet, while the data exists, there aren’t nearly enough intelligent, skilled analysts looking at it, combining it in new ways, deriving insights and extrapolating new application and policy. If you have a burning question you want to explore, this current era offers possibilities limited only by computing power and capacity to frame the right questions.

Here are just a few examples of the kinds of public data sets available for analysis:

Christine Mason
Christine maps new markets for emerging technologies, scouts for strategic expansion opportunities, and guides internal innovation strategies for leading companies.