TetrisBio immortalised data via encrypting it in the DNA

TetrisBio started as a project in BioSistemika, which is a company that develops software for lab equipment. Additionally, BioSistemika has also other projects, like electronic lab log SciNote, that are mostly focused on research and development. TetrisBio is one of them, focusing on DNA data encryption.

I did my master’s thesis on the topic so it was sort of natural development to this stage as I have a lot of knowledge on it and we thought this whole idea has great potential, so we decided to spin it out as a new company” Žan Pirc said at the beginning of 21th INNOtalks that was hosted by ABC Accelerator on 19th of July.

TetrisBio has not yet been established as a conventional start-up company, but has been in active field of research of entrepreneurship for about 10 months.

According to Pirc, the main goal of their project is to store digital data in DNA. In order to do that they are using the technology that already exists and are able to connect it in a way that is financially viable.

FOTO: Siniša Kanižaj

In order to achieve that, this project involves many people with interdisciplinary skills such as computer science theory and biology. For this project to succeed, however, all of the members have deep knowledge of data theory. According to Pirc, there is also another factor at play: “For every Tesla we need Edison in order to succeed.”

On the one hand, a project like theirs needs a highly qualified scientist who conceptualizes it and, at the same time, people who have entrepreneur’s skills as well in order to bring their product to the masses.

Pirc and his team want to store DNA data that you will use every couple of years and it is not envisioned for personal use: “Our project works as an archiving medium that big corporations would use for their backups. The more interesting factor, however, is that once one has encoded something into DNA, it could stay there for a few million years which is an unimaginable number comparing to the 30 years’ standard of today.”

The second advantage to the process is that it takes virtually no physical space. 

According to Pirc: “If you go to the theoretical limits of the DNA you could probably store few sizes of the internet in a cup of water.

To the question of Energy consumption Pirc commented, that once data is encrypted to the DNA, it consumes no energy whatsoever.

Additionally, there is a very slim chance that the data will be in physical danger, aside from few exceptions such as specific radioactivity. The reason for that is simple – the data within the DNA takes very little space, so it gives one space to shield it with additional protection.

FOTO: Siniša Kanižaj

At this point Pirc added, that in order to understand his project, one should take into account that he is researching DNA as a chemical compound and not a biological one.

“By removing the DNA sample from the living things we prevent data loss.”

And added that “one of the biggest breakthrough was achieved when early researchers stopped storing data in the living cell due to its instability”.

Even tough the field is highly complicated and specific, their project is not without competition. Past two years have seen the birth of many projects which aim to optimize data density and its ideal encoding to the DNA. However, these numerous projects do not tackle the issue of how to cut down the costs of the process. They wish to develop everything at once, especially the technology to print into DNA, which is currently very expensive.

Commenting on this Pirc stated that “Our concept, on the other hand, takes high price of the DNA encryption into account and we are constantly tackling the technology to be more cost efficient.”

Once they will achieve the goal of making the process significantly cheaper they plan to offer their product to big corporations. The latter usually have to archive an enormous amount of data and are always worried about what will happen to it if something goes wrong with infrastructure.

While it might take several stages to this point, Pirc confidently adds “at the end of the day it might prove to be move efficient and cost effective for them to store their data in DNA”.

FOTO: Siniša Kanižaj

INNOtalks: Coding is a universal language 

Codebrainer is, in essence, a platform where a person can acquire knowledge of coding. 
While it might seem easy for one to expand one’s horizons, the process can quickly become quite painful, resulting in not achieving one’s goals. In order to avoid this, Codebrainer provides a unique learning experience for beginners, who are interested in coding.  

With this in mind, Miha Cirman and the team developed the ultimate learning environment, where one can work on an actual project, with access to step by step video instructions and step by step written instructions with pictures. In order to guarantee success, they provide their customers with extra hints and blog posts that expand the original content.  

Cirman’s beginnings in coding had a difficult start. To begin with, he was the only one to own a computer device in the extended neighborhood. As a consequence, at the beginning, at least, nobody really understood for what exactly he was saving money. Even as a child, however, Cirman was enthusiastic enough about the latest technology that he has spent his hard-saved money for a device nobody cared much about – a computer.  

FOTO: Siniša Kanižaj

This avalanched a career in programming development for Cirman that has spanned over twenty years. 
During our initial research it became apparent that there are a lot of people who would like to learn to code but do not know where to being,” Cirman said at the beginning of 20th INNOtalks that was hosted by ABC Accelerator on 13th of June. 

It is Cirman’s core belief that in the future each individual will have to acquire some level of proficiency in coding languages. If, for example, one will work in the field of marketing campaigns, he or she will be expected to program some things. Most definitely the process of how we program things will be a subject of change and will be, according to Cirman, simplified.  
With that in mind Cirman explained to the audience: “our goal is to educate as many people as we can”. 
There are a lot of people who would be willing to learn how to code but on the other hand there are a lot fewer senior developers who would be capable or willing to stand up and teach others. 
At first, we started with completely technical team, we were mostly developing geeks. But soon I realized that one of the most important things is to be able to sell your product. That is why we have expended our team with people with different expertise so we can communicate better to the rest of the world. We, geeks, sometimes need somebody who tells us straight that we went too far, that we need to take a slower pace. Beginners are our target audience and that makes clear communication most important.” 

FOTO: Siniša Kanižaj

When asked about the difficulty of programing for beginners Cirman said that “learning to code is more like learning another language than, for example, learning math. Those who are willing to learn can do it undoubtedly. It really is like learning a new way of communication.” 
For most of their students the main motivation are future job prospects, while keeping in mind that the most important thing is to understand programming processes. The main philosophy of Codebrainer isn’t necessarily for one to code an entire website or a mobile application. The most important thing is for one to grasp the processes that are behind it, for that can achieve better results on one’s projects and make the whole process of building much easier. 
“The most important is that you understand what needs to be done before your idea can be realized,” Cirman said and added “we want for people to start coding with us. Our plan is to take their hand and be there with them every step of the way, that is why we have also live video courses. Books can be a great source of knowledge, but for someone new they can be overwhelming. The most important with coding is one’s first contact with it. That is why our courses are and always will interactive.” 
As for their experience in ABC Accelerator Cirman said “personally, it was the kick in the butt we needed. We would have never started this project if we didn’t partake in the accelerator program. We were mobile developers and there were always enough jobs for us to survive. But that was not our goal. Our goal was to make a globally recognized product and we came to the right people in order to achieve it.”