Saturday, October 23, 2010

DIYBio gets a little more local...Bangalore just got one - is there one in your area?

You must be living in a cave disconnected from the internet, "smart" phones and Government paranoia, if you haven't heard of "DIY"bio...the new movement where citizens create fluorescent cats, third arms and pet Homo zombius'es...(there may be people trying to do these things, but this is not what the DIYBio movement is about, but hey, since logic and commonsense are not essential to our politicians or to those who do very little to serve or protect us..)

What is DIYBio?

Most revolutions in human science and society took off with home-grown innovations. While Kings commissioned large sums of money and bounties, it took James Watt with his steam engine, the Wright brothers with their flight, and the Curies with their home-grown chemistry lab (I mean literally, the innovation of a century in radiology was cooked up by the Curies working their asses off in a shack offered up by skeptical University folks). And then we have the perennial "garage start up" much so that now we have a company named "Willow Garage".

Yet, one field had lacked this spunk - enter a bunch of hitherto disparate folks trying to do a "garage" bio or life-science company. Like so many people blind to this, it took a report of Government paranoia (suits showing up at people incubating eggs and so on), I learned about the group through a string or articles that just multiplied the story to create a din loud enough for me to sit up and pay attention.

Since then, of course I have joined the groups, watched our local DIYBio group , "BioCurious" gain funding pledges and I have generally been enjoying the fraternity of research.

The essential idea, globally and locally is to cause revolutions in the life sciences that promote both basic research and cures. This spans the gamut, ranging from fundamental biology to genetics and personalized medicine!

Of course, there is more, however, I am not going to write a pompous essay - just visit the links at the end of this post to learn more about the DIYBio movement!

Bangalore DIYBio:

Localization is important to invite new people into the fore, get the intimidation and information overloads that the 21st century has wrought on us down to an acceptable level and allow for explosive growth. While local groups have been popping up everywhere, the Bangalore group, as far as I can tell, is a first for India. Congratulations to Deepan Chakravarthy for starting the group!

There is a lot of programming talent in India. I am sure the lifesciences in various forms are also attracting enough attention. Consequentially, I hope that this group can bring these folks together, locally in India.

The value of collective bargaining

When I first came to the US as a graduate student (and even a little before that), one of the clear causes for such success in the US became quite self-evident: "associations", "societies" and the whole lot.

Of course, there are times when groups such as NFIB and Advamed are up to no go..ahem, hmm, let's go back to the main topic.

Individually, it would be so hard for folks to do things. By grouping together, we can motivate each other, share ideas, and present forums that can be societal, technical and as it seems to be quite necessary with most endeavors nowadays, political as well!

India does have quite a handful of associations and societies. However, a lot more need to come up. I saw a handful pop up - HeadStart, the local barcamp groups, the OCC or Open Coffee Club groups and so on. With a population continuously hungry to put India on the 21st century map, I think such associations including the DIYBio Bangalore group, that may currently look small and frail are doing their job.

So my question to you: Do you have a DIY-Anything group locally?

Especially, do you have a DIYBio group that is local to where you live? If so, have you joined and contributed? How about starting one if it is necessary?

Do-It-Yourself-er, with a lot of friends, it's easy!

Setting up a new group is not tough. Here are a few things you could do to get started:

1. Find out if you have folks interested in starting one. Join the diybio group (link at the end of the post, I promise). Ask who else is working on "bio" stuff locally.

2. Find out if there are local Universities that have folks doing the same thing. Attend lectures, go to meetings and chat people up.

3. Simply start a group - then blog, tweet, holler and draft your friends as volunteers (that's right!) to either join, or get the word out.

4. Conduct simple meetings, demos, educational events - there is a lot on the playbook that the folks who have already done it at Biocurious and other organizations that can talk to you about - reach out!

So, let's get to some resources.


1. The DIYbio Google Group:

2. DIYBio website:

3. Find local DIYBio Groups:

4. The Bangalore DIYBio Group:

5. DIYBio on Grouply:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thinking of starting a business? You may have a tax break or two to take advantage of!

As has now become usual, I have so many excuses as to why I am not regularly posting here. I apologize – aside from all my travails and super-secret projects, I now have a cat, squeaky, and I have been trying to making him feel at home, while invading his privacy through a blog at .

Back to the futurepresent, I read this Bloomberg businessweek article and I thought I would pass on the tip to you. The tip has to do with available tax deductions if you start your business this year.

Sitting on the fence? Have you been drinking a lot of tea and avoiding starting that company you have been thinking about? Well, there is new regulation that appears poised to push you over the fence.

The tax break, according to the article, appears to come in three forms – startup expense benefits, capital expenditure benefits, bonus depreciations and additional depreciations. The original article and additional links are available at the end of this post.

1. Startup Expenses – It appears that the annual deduction allowed to be claimed for businesses is usually $5,000, and this year, in an effort to get more people started, it is $10,000. It appears that this holds true only for 2010. It also appears to cover a range of startup expenses such as legal expenses, accounting expenses, marketing expenses and so on, as quoted by someone, on the Businessweek article.

2. Capital Expenditure Benefits – In 2010 and 2011, companies that invest less than $2 million in capital investments can now deduct up to $500,000 in taxes. It appears this is phased down northwards of $2 million. This looks like an especially sweet deal if you are already in business. If you are just starting up, this may not be as useful, but still worth something.

3. That pesky health insurance - Yes, that pesky thing that has turned half of us into zombies who would rather panic than apply logic. Well, unless you hit yourself in the head, healthcare has always been a problem. The new law helps you if you are a sole proprietor or a single person LLC , in 2010 (and only this year) you will be able to deduct your healthcare expenses.

This is a one-time bitter-sweet benefit, and may still benefit a few of you out there! There are other large and small benefits that the White House touts. Remember, if you do start up, and hire hitherto unemployed folks, there is another benefit in there for you.

Other benefits from starting up

1. There are a lot of folks with a lot of ideas up there. However, as the much beaten cliché says, “ideas are dime a dozen”. Of course, you will tell me you are passionate, and you will get out there and build a company and you know what the gap is and how you are going to fill it and so on – Good! Now, if you actually register a company and start paying taxes, this will definitely help you. You now have a deadline – no more excuses! Get out there and do it.

2. Benefits dry up if you do not use them. From Karen Klein’s well written articles, I deduce that some of these benefits, such as the temporary healthcare deduction have been won through a lot of battles – and are still temporary in nature. I know it doesn’t make sense for companies that employ a team of folks, but as long as you are a lone ranger out there, be a good one, register start-up and take advantage. This will let the Government consider expanding benefits for other lone rangers – perhaps, even for your next start up!

3. Yes, it appears that a lot of people are touting their anger out there. The recession has ended, yet growth is slow. Yet, the morrow belongs to folks who tough it when times are not as good, as opposed to people who wait and wait till the tide comes in….

Till next time!