An ecosystem of distributed “biofoundries” will require sophisticated software systems that do not currently exist. Examples of these systems include but are not limited to specifying designs, exchanging data, archiving designs and material, and recording experimental “design rules”. Some of this software exists locally or in prototype form. Although there are academic and private groups are developing such software systems, they are often limited in their capacity to tackle numerous projects concurrently and may be more averse to exploratory projects. In addition, these groups are developing software based on their specific applications or expertise, limiting the diversity and types of existing software tools. A healthy ecosystem of biofoundries will require numerous types of novel software tools. To support the development of such software tools, we are holding a remote hackathon in collaboration with the Bio-Design Automation Consortium to identify promising project concepts, support their development through Nona’s resources, and crowdsource ideas for future software projects the synthetic biology community desires
Due to COVID-19, the BDAthlon will be a yearlong, remote hackthon comprised of specifically targeted toward the development of specific software for the Global Biofoundry Alliance (https://biofoundries.org/). During one of the IWBDA 2020 Special Sessions, ideas for potential open source computational and bio-design projects that benefit the synthetic biology community will be crowdsourced from attendees and maintained by Nona via GitHub. The hackathon will then launch after IWBDA 2020. Participants can either select project ideas from those gathered from IWBDA 2020 or come up with their own project concept.
Following IWBDA, teams will work on their projects during the course of the year until IWBDA 2021, at which point we will encourage teams to submit their work via abstract submissions and announce winners. During the course of the year Nona will hold a series of Development Summits. During these Development Summits, Nona will allocate 2-3 days for teams to work on their projects, present their progress, and reach out to the community if they require additional resources/assistance. During these Development Summits Nona will also distribute Milestone Awards in the form of cash, computing resources, and/or software licenses for teams that are progressing on pace, require additional resources, and have sufficiently demonstrated how they plan to use awarded resources. At the end of the hackathon series, prizes will be awarded to the top teams and the successful software projects will begin to be deployed for testing at participating Global Biofoundry member sites.