Reagent is a term used in chemistry to describe a process in which one determines a presence of a substance by sparking a chemical reaction with it.
In Ghent, ReaGent is a space opened by enthusiasts of bioengineering in order to spark interest and passion for natural sciences among the citizens of the city. And to prove that the increasing know-how will play a huge role in innovation and future of technology, also with a local focus.
People are more and more aware that biology will shape future technology, by improving its performance and making it more sustainable. Yet both researchers and students lack access to knowledge about it - especially in a form of a laboratory, where everyone is free to experiment, try, learn, exchange and meet. Biology education is becoming outdated and we need students able to design the sustainable solutions of the future. The situation has been changing in the past years across Europe - many graduates, biology enthusiasts, opened biolabs equipped with instruments that they built themselves or that companies were giving away. Surprisingly, it’s a rather common situation - for many of the businesses the costs of maintenance or even disposal of these sophisticated machines is higher than just giving them away to whomever would be interested to use it.
I have been involved in ReaGent since over a year. The space offers both paid and unpaid access and program - the privileged ones fund this way free classes for poorer children. Part of the funding comes also from the memberships, which guarantee access to the lab 2 days a week.
Places like ReaGent spark creativity in sciences by working in an accessible, open and flexible manner. Their mission now is to give access to this type of education to the whole of Flanders, and extend their network by inviting for example designers to come and create biodegradable materials.
As OPENandchange allied, ReaGent would bring about the same qualities to the application: they would bring scientific education, which in turn would be used in innovation and hacking applicable in care.
If you have advice or another project which is relevant, let’s discuss it here. A question to get the discussion going: what is the fairest way in the long term to fund education outside of, but as an addition to, the traditional state-funded system - from who and how?