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Announcing BRIGHT IDEAS at Brightwork

Hold onto your socks Houston! Have we got some exciting things in store for you.

Brightwork’s mission is to get more people working as Indie Scientists and launching Science startups. Primarily we do this by replacing the initial startup costs associated with science startups with a monthly fee.  It’s far easier to pay $450 to test out an idea for a month as opposed to raising $50k just to see if something has legs. We’re already 2X more affordable than any other shared lab in the country[see Nature] but we’re not ready to stop there. Starting Jan 1, 2014 we will be kicking off the Bright Ideas Accelerator at Brightwork.

Bright Ideas is not your typical accelerator. There are lots of peeps around town who will help you once you’ve got a little bit of traction. But if you literally just have an idea or god forbid just a passion to work on something nonspecific you’re pretty much on your own. We know how hard it can be starting something in Houston, Brightwork almost moved to Berkeley and only happened here because we were pretty stubborn in our belief that Houston has buckets of untapped potential. And so…

If you have an idea, project or prototype:

Apply right here and if you’re accepted  we’ll hook you up with a lab, equipment and give you a practical knowledge of important things like business, funding, science and prototyping [in exchange for a minimal stake(5%) in the idea]. The program is designed to be an intense and challenging 3 months.

If you don’t have an Idea:

We’ll be spinning up a number of “in house” projects in 2014. So if you are looking to be apart of an exciting project, apply here and where it asks for you to describe your project, instead describe the type of projects you’d like to be apart of.

Plus some extras for the rest of Houston:

  • To make it easier to start, everyone’s first month of CoWork/CoResearch is now only $200.
  • Monthly Survey Hacks: Biodesign, GeoPhysics, Drones, more to be announced.
  • Regular Science Show & Tell‘s
  • Monthly “Brilliant Minds” Speaker Series: Houston’s got lots of brilliant peope doing amazing things, we want you to know about them.
  • Plus oodles of workshops and classes 

If you have any questions, queries, quizzes, get in touch.

Aneela is a Brightworker!

Aneela joins Brightwork

I’m very excited to announce that Aneela Rashid has joined Brightwork CoResearch as Creative Director. She’ll be working to make CoResearch more accessible, more useable and downright better looking.

Often times(read:all the time) scientists don’t worry too much about if their work can be understood outside of their field, much less the general population. At Brightwork we believe clearly and effectively communicating not only what we’re doing but why it is worthwhile is almost as important as the work itself. And to do this requires more than just science, it requires design.

Follow Aneela on twitter and instagram

Brightwork CoResearch is launching in Houston!

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.

Welcome!

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, twitterinstagram or simply stopping by one of the meetups.

 

-Cheers,

Jacob Shiach

Principal Instigator

 

 

 

The Age of the Independent Researcher

Science used to be the pursuit of rich gentleman with nothing better to do and no hunger pains to get in the way of questioning the why’s and how’s of the universe. Great breakthroughs could be and were made by singular individuals acting alone. With the advent of Universities, anyone with the desire and a certain level of intelligence could become a scientist, not just rich greek gentleman.  Today there are more scientists researching than at any other point in human history and tomorrow I will be able to make the same claim. Just by sheer numbers it’s a pretty safe bet that science, as in the cumulative knowledge of humanity, will continue to advance at an increasing pace. Yet this pace is not as fast as it should be.

There is a flaw in the traditional route to research. Traditional scientific institutes are not optimized for scientists willing to question the status quo. Risk and failure while essential to developing cutting edge science do not lead to tenure or a raise.  As a result, an increasing and needless amount of focus within the scientific community is being placed on IP, publications, degrees and award.

A place where anyone can come to research and do so full time. Each CoResearch facility will accomplish this by providing access to equipment, funding, education, and most important of all collaboration.

The first CoResearch Space is called Brightwork and I hope you will join us in making it a reality.

-Cheers,

Jacob Shiach