Summit: Global Community Bio Summit



The MIT Media Lab hosted the Global Community Bio Summit this September as part of it community biotechnology initiative. The Media Lab, which has long been an incubator for innovation, has recently directed more and more of its resources to foster the future of biotechnology. The Community Biotechnology Initiative, directed by David Sun Kong, Ph.D.,  comes on the heels of statements from the current Media Lab director Joi Ito declaring “biology is the new digital” to the Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte proclaiming that “[Biotechnology] will govern the next decade of thought.”

While synthetic biology has expanded its breadth of technical participation to include a host of engineering disciplines, the next generation of innovators in biotechnology will include diverse communities across cultural, socioeconomic, artistic, and creative domains. With this in mind, the Bio Summit hosted sessions ranging from “Diversity & Inclusion”, with presentations on ‘Feminist perspectives on biotechnology’ (Stefanie Wuschitz) and ‘Biohacking in Africa’ (Thomas Hervé Mboa Nkoudou), to “Bio Art & Design”, with presentations on ‘Speculative Fictions and Speculative Feminisms'(Mary Maggic) and ‘iGMO: Transgenic Humans in the Biological Bedroom’ (Adam Zaretsky).

The summit also featured a gallery of BioArt projects from practitioners in the field and the Biodesign Challenge. Highlights from the show included Ali Schachtschneider’s Vivorium, a speculative future lifestyle where grown materials serve as extensions of the body, EMW Street Bio’s Biota Beats, a microbiome driven digital synthesizer and from the Biodesign Challenge; AlgiKnit, biopolymer research team and Myotomato, animal-protein producing tomato line.

As the community of biology makers expands geographically and disciplinarily, there is a greater need to create linkages to work together. The Bio Summit is a living archive of the progress of global biology maker movement and we look forward to seeing how it flourishes.


Text by CLOT Magazine (Twitter @clotmagazine)


(Photos courtesy of Scott Pownall,


23 Oct 2017