Dutch Design Week: Bio Stories [Eindhoven]

By Magdalena Obmalko

As part of our engagement with the World Economic Forum and our CEO Natsai’s seat on the Global Future Council on Synthetic Biology, the Council has partnered with Faber Futures on the new project, Bio Stories.

Bio Stories is a multi-stage engagement strategy to solicit compelling narratives about our changing relationships with the living world from stakeholders whose insights and viewpoints may have been underrepresented in previous global discussions. Together we will examine how we can work with nature to shape a future that centres the Council’s values of equity, sustainability, solidarity and humility – and build a world in which we all want to live.

This October, we were pleased to present the first iteration of this project in the form of our exhibition and series of discussions, Bio Stories [Eindhoven]. The project took place at Dutch Design Week and was presented as Natsai’s DDW21 ambassador’s project.

Over 3 days of open forums we welcomed members of the public and brought together Netherlands-based and international experts from a range of backgrounds. Joining with the public around a set of curated artefacts, our forums explored the relationships the group have and wish to have with Nature, alongside the experts’ visions for the future of synthetic biology. The varied backgrounds of speakers spanning from agriculture to philosophy, ethics, biotechnology, material design, academia and industry, alongside the audience, made for generative and exciting conversations.

Each forum was shaped by a different theme. We kicked off with our first forum under the theme MOLECULES, asking: how do we value the living world? This forum explored our relationships with nature, as biotechnology is shaping different ways of knowing, owning and working with molecules. For this discussion we were joined by Emma Van Der Leest, founder of the Blue City Lab; Douwe Korting, Co-leader of The Boxtel Cooperative; and Dutch Design Foundation programme and community manager of DDW, Marleen van Bergeijk.

On the second day covered with MISSION, we were joined by biodesigner, Maurizio Montalti; Pim Klaassen, Assistant Professor Science and Technology in Society at Athena Institute; Roel Bovenberg, Senior Science Fellow DSM and Honorary Professor, University of Groningen, Julia Rijssenbeek, PhD candidate in Ethics of Technology at the Philosophy Group of Wageningen University and researcher at FreedomLab Thinktank. We were also welcomed virtually by Dr.Megan J. Palmer, Executive Director of Bio Policy & Leadership Initiatives at Stanford University and member of the World Economic Forum council on synthetic biology.

Our third and final discussion, centered on MONEY: the systems, tools and infrastructures that shape our relationships with the living world. This discussion navigated the broader structures shaping our relationships with nature. In particular the business models, research standards, and funding routes of biodesign and synthetic biology at local and global scales. For this discussion we were joined by Rob F. Beudeker, Investment Director, DSM; Lotte Asveld, Assistant Professor, Technical University Delft; Tom Bosschaert, Founder of Except & Herenboeren International and virtually by Christina Agapakis, Creative Director of Ginkgo Bioworks.

Thank you to our speakers and all who joined us! If you were not able to make it to Bio Stories [EINDHOVEN], we have just published the project on our website here so you can find out more about this project.

The project would not be possible without the support, contributions and guidance of Dr. Megan J. Palmer and Dr. Melissa Salm and in association with the Bio Policy & Leadership in Society (Bio.Polis) Initiative and the (humans+earth) grotto at Stanford University.

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