Since Bethan was 15 she has been fascinated by DNA, "I mean what could be cooler than understanding the code of life?" She wondered. Following her passion took her to University College London and gave her access to machines that could sample DNA - hugely expensive machines that only a few people could ever dream of using.
A college competition entered with friends started her on the road to creating the Bento Lab - a personal DNA lab that costs as much as a laptop and is not much bigger or heavier.
Now field workers can take their own kit with them rather than having to go back to their labs and anyone - not just professionals - with a passion for biology can sample their own genes or see what is in their beer. Or for the very brave, their burgers. Who knows what future Bethans armed with the Bento Lab will discover?
Her company, Bento Bioworks, is making learning and working with molecular biology orders of magnitude more accessible. The toolkit weighs only 3kg, fits on an A4 footprint, and contains all the equipment required to carry out basic research in molecular biology. This has widespread implications for science and engineering education as bento•lab users will be able to engage hands-on with genetic engineering and could potentially contribute to large-scale research projects. They are already taking orders after a successful Kickstarter campaign.
You can watch a video about bento•lab here.
“One of the challenges we all face is thinking that there’s a perfect time to start your own business. The harsh reality is that this mythical moment never arrives. There will always be challenges and excuses to delay making that decision, but at some point you need to get past those mental roadblocks and take the plunge."