Setting up a community lab in Basel

Hello Everyone,

It is a pleasure to virtually meet you all and to join this community. I am a molecular biologist and an entrepreneur from California who recently moved to Basel, Switzerland to attend university. I am doing my M.Sc. in molecular biology, but I have always been a supporter of the citizen science movement. You can find more info about me here. I used to be a member/volunteer at BioCurious in San Jose, CA, and I would love to see a similar type of space here. I want to connect with the community here and ask if there is anyone near Basel or elsewhere who might like to join forces? I have already started recruiting some volunteers and building out a budget and a plan. I would certainly appreciate any feedback or intellectual contributions you can make.

Please see the link below:

Thank you and look forward to learning more about you guys!

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Great to hear from you here on the forum. and thanks for sharing this article.

There is a bunch of people in the region that have done stuff over the last years.
Let’s use this topic here to connect. thinking about more concrete people in basel… hmmm
@gaudi @mamaya @raronoff

@sachiko and Urs have been writing this nice essay about starting a lab:

and we collected both conceptual and practical stuff here… mbe a bit outdated:
“Making a Laboratory is both a spontaneous activity and a slow labor of love.”

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Hey thanks for chatting earlier, Marc. I think just in the last few days, I have learned a considerable amount. I am focusing my efforts first and foremost on building the community. Just FYI for anyone in Basel, please join this group:
There are so few of us at the moment, and organizing during this quarantine is going to be almost impossible, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t plan for the future. I am planning to put together some basic classes in Basel (like building a transilluminator for gel imaging, building a DIY thermocycler, or painting with fluorescent bacteria) which I hope will get more people interested, and encourage them to work towards their own projects or join ones which are already existing in hackuarium/hackteria, etc.


it looks like an amazing program to start, I wonder if you have minipore already from your description.
Given the current time it will be difficult to do things in person, but most of my life has moved on Zoom.
I can explain you how it works (it is like a Super-Skype), and we can have virtual meetings to start, what do you think?

I am familiar with Zoom and other conferencing software, so if you can send me an invite when we are free, I am happy to brainstorm some ideas with you. I think I am going to try to put together some basic classes and projects first to get people involved and interested.

hello, (my first post) - i hope it is all fine, i just want to offer some space in basel for this cool project, or maybe it even brings some people together… best dani

we just recently opened a new workspace in Basel called WERK Raumkollektiv (sorry our website ist just on the way, just FB). we are a small team of artist, designer, musicians and a hackerspace called starship factory, also there is a workshop for mainly woodcraft. there are also other machines around like 3D printer, lasercutter, CNC mill and electronic workspaces.

the collectiv has also a big space, around 100 qm for workshops, pannels, meet up, etc. there are tables and chairs, videobeam and audiostuff. this space is shared by all, but is also open for other communities like your project.

so far, we have no “biohackers” we have some people working in the field of biomedical informatics. but maybe there are people in the hackerspace/makerspace who are interessted in your ideas and projects.

in the moment, we are like all open spaces a bit confused and do not know when we are back in real space with workshops and happenings.

but as soon as the situation is getting better, come around and visit us, or even put up your first projects in our space until you find a new location.

have a look here to see what the space is like:

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Hi Dani! This would be great. What if we just had one person printing out parts and then try to organize the assembly at home or following the recommendations for the quarantine? (i.e. working on the unit from home and give instructions via zoom, social distancing, wearing personal protective equipment, etc). Just throwing out some ideas. Otherwise, it would be great if I could learn what type of 3D printer and other materials you have so I can start planning out a class/project. Is there a list of the equipment which you guys currently have?

Hi antonio,
it seems like you got connected to the starship factory over FB in basel, as some member told me.
by the way . i am not a member of of the starship factory but i am part of the artist atelier collective there. and sorry, i am not a 3D printer user … but please contact me anytime if you have workshops or other stuff going on in basel, best dani
daniel reichmuth / mail / / more information you find here:

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hi there! i recently moved to basel and am considering opening an event/exhibition space for stuff at the intersection of art and science. main topics: digital stuff/ai/algorithms and life sciences. very open for all kinds of collaborations too! all a bit shaky because of big c, but i’d like to start with this as soon as possible. it’s a bit of a different concept from the werk kollektiv, as i’m looking for a centrally located space, interim let of a store maybe.

Hi Roland, et al. I wanted to let you guys know we have made a good amount of progress now :). We currently have about 8 members in Basel and we are going to try to set up a lab space in the Starship Factory. I was just curious, do you guys know of anyone in Basel or the rest of Switzerland who sells low-cost reagents and molecular biology equipment, such as pipettes? If not, I’ll order from, but the shipping from the US can be quite expensive and time consuming :stuck_out_tongue:


sorry for the late reply. It has been a crazy period (and I am also lecturing via Zoom).
I would avoid The odin, unless it is something special they have and also they are in US. There are thousands of suppliers which can offer you better prices especially if you ask large volumes.
The main thing is whether you have a VAT account, you have your own entity (eg. a Gmbh)…
as private person I had a lot of issues, in that case your choices are pretty limited:
and maybe another one.

Thanks for the reply. I checked the website you sent me and holy crap their stuff is expensive. I get that things are expensive in Switzerland but 265 chf for a pipette? lmfao. I think for basic things like agarose, sybrsafe gel green, etc. Odin is pretty reliable. I’ve bought from him before when I lived in California and his prices are for the most part competitive. I am not so sure about the enzymes he sells (which to be honest are probably fine), but for basic reagents, it is legit.

From your answer I conclude you don’t have a VAT or a company… that’s the problem, it is normal that the left alternative with less restrictions are expensive, not Switzerland

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Ah okay. That makes sense. I will look at getting a VAT number or a company. Someone suggested setting up a verein I think, so I’ll look into it later. What are typical prices which I can expect for basic enzymes, buffers, and equipment here? Oh and also, did you set up a company? What was the process like for you? Is it expensive? Thanks for wisdom :slight_smile:

Over the last year, we have also investigated on the regulatory and safety management of community biolabs in Switzerland. @mamaya and @dusjagr have been writing a “easy-to-use” instruction on how to apply for the “Global Notification” to perfrom experiments on bio safety level 1, including the use of GMO bacteria and other microbes.
It’s drafted and updated on our wiki here:

@swedishmadscientist maybe you can give it a test run and write us some feedback on the instruction?

There will be a new online portal coming soon from the BAFU, but the general idea behind it is the same. just technically a new (and hopefully better) website.

As the whole regulatory framework is primarily for standard academic and industrial labs, the platform is not design top be used so easily for community biologists, but it’s still quite ok and a simple BSL1 notification is enough to get started legally.

What we also want to explore is how to apply for temporary places, like public events in cultural event venues, where we would like to perform and interact with a general curious public. For that the platform hasnt yet been thought of, and the responsibles from BAFU are interested to get our feedback on how we envisage such activities.

There are many more notes on our investigations on the issue in Switzerland other places to be found here on the wiki:

still struggling. My plan was to create a company to sort out all this then this COVID storm arrived and messed up everything. In the meanwhile I have been using the approach of favors from networking.
Namely, either donation of small aliquote or asking other people to order for me. Now even those possibilities are gone as most of labs in Zurich are shutdown.
Creating a company or having a VAT is the best solution.

If you just need pipette and dishes just check amazon/ebay:

I think it s time for you to consider and as suppliers, I got this answer from The Odin and other two more serious suppliers in US

Hoi zäme,
we started some time ago to put together a list of suppliers for various stuff on the wiki:

it’s still very short drafted, but would be great if we all contribute to it. also keep it alive, as ebay sellers might appear and disappear. @gaudi has a registered company, also hackteria is a registered “Verein” with number and everything at the Chamber of Commerce Zürich.
ping me up PM and i can create an account for you on wiki.

then I need the hackteria/Gaudi details. is not ok, or maybe it is only for simple stuff like pipettes, dishes.
I tried to get the Giemsa staining months ago (see other conversation) and they refused to sell it to private. And they even went so far googling me and asking me if I still work at the hospital that could be a solution. Giemsa is not a big deal, I mean is inflammable and it is a chemical but is definetely nothing serious or stuff that requires a BSL2. Yes there are a couple on Amazon and Ebay in Europe which I can add, but don’t expect serious reagents, mostly agar and plastic things.

Gene&Cells is one of the two I contacted outside the Odin. It is not a good idea at the moment. If you order now you might get sutff in 2-3 months at least