Guest Post: Making Biotech Accesible with LavaAmp

Projects & Participants

Guido Núñez is a 28 year-old Venezuelan biotech entrepreneur who forms part of Start-Up Chile’s first round of 2011. A graduate of the Universidad de Los Andes, in Mérida, Venezuela, with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies in Physical and Computational Sciences, he is one of the founders of LavaAmp, one of the few biotechnological startups within Start-Up Chile’s repertoire. Here, he shares in a guest post about his experience in Chile and what his plans are during his time in the program:

These days everything I do is experimental. I am trying my luck in a new country, getting used to a new culture, new weather, new responsibilities, challenges and joys. I am back to the lab bench, doing experiments and doing experimental biology after a long time. But the most interesting experiment I am involved is in finding out if we have gotten to the point where as little as $40K can launch a new biotech company that makes significant impact in the world. LavaAmp, my company, aims to bring portable DNA testing for infectious disease at a low price, making it accessible to billions of people who currently lack diagnostics options, and making DNA testing easy and cheap enough for other applications where applying this technology is impractical and unaffordable.

This experiment is nested inside another one, an ambitious project that is funding startups to come to Chile and see not only if we can succeed and benefit Chile, but also if we can make more Chileans interested in becoming entrepreneurs and try to succeed. I am glad to have the opportunity and means to test this hypothesis: The time is now to make biotech easier, friendlier and cheaper. We do not need a million dollars to make an attempt, create a proof of concept and raise more capital, with ingenuity new techniques, materials and hardware, biotechnology will become more accessible to serve the very different needs of people from all around the world. That’s my hypothesis and Chile is helping me to test it. In the next six months we expect to finish the development of our prototype, to built some applications that show the benefits of portable PCR, in short, to start taking the biotech genie out of its academic bottle and releasing it to the real world.

LavaAmp was recently featured in Wired magazine and has participated in numerous seminars in the United States. If you are interested in contacting Guido, please find his contact information here.