Just like programming software, it is now possible to program matter, he explained. The shift to digitalized biology is happening at a rapid pace, allowing for such innovative products as algae-powered biodegradable batteries to be created.
That's just one of the ideas that have come to life at Berkeley Biolabs. The group is also focused on products that are resource-intensive, like paper and cotton, particularly the latter. Berkeley Biolabs can grow cellulose, which can more easily be converted into cotton without all of the taxing affects of pesticides, land use and water.
Bethencourt is also affiliated with Indie.Bio, which provides emerging biotech startups with funding of approximately $50,000, as well as access to its wet labs. Projects that are funded range from enzymes, foods and energies, which are sometimes used as therapeutics.
In making investments in biotech companies, Bethencourt advises investors to focus on companies that are tackling products with complicated and expensive manufacturing processes. Those companies are often finding ways to simplify the food-making process, or flavoring process, such as developing vanilla flavoring that is easier and cheaper to create.