I am so excited to be able to announce that Brightwork CoResearch has a building(on chaucer st, right by Rice U.) and will begin construction on July 1. Which we’re estimating to finish in early August!
Brightwork CoResearch is an open, collaborative research space that will provide indie researchers and science entrepreneurs affordable access to a wet lab, rapid prototyping lab, a community of collaboration, funding and education.
Exciting Origin Story
The story of Brightwork CoResearch started over a year ago, when in the middle of an intense science hackathon (ScienceHackdaySF) and being a little sleep deprived, I leaned over to my friend, Matt Senate, and asked “Why don’t we all do this everyday?”.
Here we had some of the most brilliant people you could hope to meet, and everyone was filled with such intensity to inovate that it was palpable and contagious. Yet at the end of the weekend all these people would return to their day jobs and that intensity would be lost. Which seemed like such a waste.
So halfway through hacking my way through building an open source dashboard for 23andMe SNP data [which honestly was failing fast, Bioinformatics degree does not a web dev make], I switched to researching how one could enable indie research and development, not just as a hobby but as a full time thing. Admittedly, didn’t end up winning one of the sweet SHD medals. Though that hackathon was the seed for what would later become Brightwork CoResearch, as well as the founding of Sudo Room, the most awesome hackerspace in Oakland. So I think we won.
Houston, We Have a Problem
Houston is not an easy city to do a startup in, much less an open science related one. This difficulty almost drove me to start Brightwork in the East Bay.Where I already know people who would be interested and the general culture is alot more open to new things. Yet ultimately I ended up staying here because the insane amount of resources and potential collaborations in town. Houston has NASA, the Texas Medical Center, Rice University and not to mention the army of engineers and scientists employed by the energy industry. It is not hyperbole when I say that there is no place on the planet where innovation is in higher demand than in Houston, Tx. And yet, anyone who wants to do anything innovative as an individual ultimately migrates to the coasts to do so. I can’t think of a better place to start a revolution in how we undertake research.
CoResearch not because it’s easy but because it will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills.
There are easier ways to do research. Currently it is a lot easier to simply follow the traditional path of Undergad, Grad School, Post-Doc #1, Post-Doc #2, maybe if you’re really, really lucky Professorship. All the while publishing incremental results to appease funding sources and tenure committees. Academic and Industry research groups do a good job at incremental scientific progress. But most fail completely at being truly innovative at scale. The biggest reason for this is because failure is still seen as a bad thing. Which results in people not willing to spend too much time taking big risks.Though being proven wrong is still scientific progress; In the current system,unless you have tenure, that type of progress could come at the risk of losing your job. Which is just creating a race to mediocrity, leading to an ever increasing exodus of frustrated researchers into non-research positions.
I know you’re probably thinking “Please tell me this isn’t one of those posts that states a dreary problem without offering any solutions.” Luckily there is hope. Institutions don’t innovate. Individuals collaborating with other individuals do. Of course, unless that individual is naturally wealthy and well connected, a certain level of institutional support is required to be effective. Brightwork CoResearch is our attempt at distilling a research institution to the absolute minimum needed by a self-motivated indie researcher and not a percent more.
This post kinda turned into a short little trilogy, so I hope it wasn’t too disconnected. Mostly I just wanted to take the time to introduce Brightwork CoResearch to everyone since I’ve been holding off on going public until we had concrete progress. So if you’ve made it this far Thank You! and welcome to Brightwork!
P.s. Don’t wait till August to get involved, we’ve already started holding a number of events and will be announcing membership info shortly. You can also get in touch via email, fb, twitter, instagram or simply stopping by one of the meetups.