Reasons why I need to come to Brussels

Hello Edgeryders
It’s me again ^^ Dorsaf, Biology engineer from Medenine, Tunisia. I want to share with you my story on how I became a part of this outstanding community. I believe most of you heard about the innovation booth camp that took place here in Medenine in late December 2017. Driven by my desire to change the world around me, I’ve submitted my application, sharing my thoughts about what’s needed to be done to make a change here in my community and what I suggest as a solution. I remember I wrote that people here are not creating any sort of positive change around them whatsoever, except bringing food to the table and supporting their own families. I am not saying this to belittle their effort maintaining a good living but I am trying to point out that we are not thinking about our future as a community, that we need to prepare the coming generation for what they need to face in the future.

People here tend to finish their day in any way possible and just go back home. They are not making any sort of impact in their social environment. The same thing applies on children, and that’s where the problem lies in the first place. Most of them goes to school and get back home, do their homework and that’s it. They don’t get the opportunity to manifest their interests and passions, or even to discover them. They are not given the chance to create their own dreams and long term goals. They are simply not familiar with this concept. As a results, we find majority of young adults not being able to figure out what they really want to accomplish in their lives, and if they do, they wouldn’t be persistent and determined enough to achieve it. From where I see it, kids should be introduced to the concept of self-growth from a young age. We need to bring attention to this important notion by creating extracurricular activities that are sort of obligatory to attend, where we teach kids the importance of their creations and let them experience how they are able to make a difference in their environment if they work hard enough.
This boot camp experience was rewarding on so many levels. I had the opportunity to interact with amazing people, discovering that we share the same ideas and we are on the same wave length. Yet the biggest outcome was finding the courage to start my own initiative: creating a biohacking space. It was an excellent fit for me since I have been having these thoughts and ideas of practicing biology out of the academic context from the day I graduated. Special thanks to @anique.yael and @noemi who enlightened me to this new practice.

With the same mind set of helping people of my community to start leading their passions and living up to their dreams, I decided to create the biohacking space. It is called “Nebras” which means the act of enlightenment. You may ask how this new practice can help people lead a good life. It is simple. When you learn the best way to deal with your own body, you end up knowing what works best for your health for example when you get to discover how your own metabolism work based on your blood type, you can create your food line, thus increasing and boosting your mental and physical performance.

So my idea for this project is to create a Biohacking space where I can introduce Biology to non-professionals, with a focus on kids who would be interested to dig deep into science and really get to the bottom of something they want to understand that has to deal with either their body or their ecosystem in order to help them improve their live.
I am keen to develop and sharpen my skills and potentials dealing with this new practice. Thus, I definitely need help from expertise, people who have gained a sound knowledge in this new field and here comes the magic of the Edgeryders community: I got to meet @winnieponcelet here in Tunisia.

It was a fruitful encounter. We had the chance to share ideas and discuss different aspects of the project. By telling him what set of skills that I think I need to acquire in order to launch my initiative the right way, he pointed out the best practices to lead this project successfully and clarified many misunderstandings that I had in terms of defining the purpose of my project and establishment of my goals. He also shared with me how he started his initiative and the different stages that he went through and what are the obstacles he overcome to achieve his success. All of this gave me a great help to organise my mess of ideas and to try putting them into actions.
Since then I have been sharing my idea on the platform with the Edgeryders and I had a great feedback. I have had some really encouraging feedback (@ramykim, @alberto), they even shared some knowledge with me such as workshop presentation and spared me some time explaining certain topics (@rachel) and trying to pave the way for me. All of this positive feedback couldn’t be more reassuring for me to continue exploring this world and try to connect it with my real world.

I’m still at the stage of initiation and planning (Nebras Project Plan).
What I’m doing now is trying to create activities and projects that can empower and enrich potentials around me by searching and asking people of knowledge and students about their visions and thoughts science and biology now.
As far as I know, there is no such community here in Tunisia (biohackers), due to the lack of democratization of technology and the free access to information. Therefore, I need guidance on how to operate out of the academic and business environment in terms of managing and developing the biohacking space, and how to avoid producing concerns and fear of this new practice and to make sure to not develop anything that can cause damage.

Hereby I would like to take this opportunity and express my desire to come to the Reef in Brussels and learn from the biohackers leaders such as EKOLI and ReaGent in order to enhance my knowledge and skills in the world of biohacking.


Hei hei.

I read your project plan with much interest, I was curious to see how your idea evolved since January…
So you are looking for a space at the university in Tunis right? Mention it in the document? The more concrete your search is, the easier to imagine the concept you describe.
And also, did you find a team in the meantime? Knowing from other labs who do science education: good scientists, good teachers and good hosts in the space are super important. And good business developers. Which one are you, Dorsaf? :slight_smile:

This article was circulated in the network the other day and it’s interesting that product development is one of the most promising areas in the innovation scene. If there is no biohacking space in Tunisia yet, wow this is a good opportunity for you.


I also read the work plan, @Dorsaf. Congratulations!

I think it would benefit from some more details in the work plan part – but you probably know that. What you have now is basically a shopping list in section 4.1.1. You need a section 4.1.2 (Resources/space) where you outline the characteristics of the space you need, and a 4.1.3 (Resources/people) where you explain, like @noemi says, that a healthy local biohacking community needs to grow around “good scientists, good teachers and good hosts”, and explain where you think you can find them. Will some people (maybe just one person) need to be paid from day one? Or do you think you can start in a purely voluntary way, given the space and equipment?

You also need a section 4.2 with the actual work plan, i.e. the activities that Nebras would carry out. I can imagine an inception phase (find and equip a space, throw a bio-party, run a small project to get the community primed up) and a running phase (write project proposals, work with schools/companies, and do whatever you need to do to have some kind of financial sustainability).


@Dorsaf, this is amazing to read! Growing a biohacker space from scratch is definitely not a small undertaking! However, there are many others globally who were in a similar position as you. The part where you talked about managing and developing the biohacker space and the language necessary to introduce the idea to your community will be very important. I am in total agreement with @noemi & @alberto about needing a small team of people around you to help realize Nebras’ mission. That means even looking outside the biological/scientific community, and reaching out to those that support your vision, be it open source & hardware advocates, educators, etc as your strongest champions (in reference to 3.1).

In 2.1, I would try to increase the impact of what a biohacker space would do, and the ‘value proposition’ of its existence; it is meeting a specific need that is outside of institutions and makes science and our bodies immediately relatable. In 3.4, could you provide a brief communication plan addressing the regulations, or how you intend to comply with the regulatory issues? This wouldn’t have to be very detailed for now.

Last, this may be too finicky, but I side with not calling out non-experts as ‘normal’. Language can be very powerful, and by calling one group normal may hint at the fact that another group is ‘abnormal’. Some other suggestions you may consider: non-experts, laypersons, non-professionals, amateurs, and the like.

Please take what you will of my feedback as I’m only reading as an outsider to your project and reflect my opinions. Others on here, I’m sure have their own :wink: Again, KUDOS to you!


And @Dorsaf, please keep your eye on this event: (the info is from 2017) that will be held in the Boston Area. I would strongly suggest that you apply as soon as the event is open and seek a travel stipend, if you can make it. It would be a great way to network globally with biohackers and to gain insight from others who have had experience with building their own spaces.


Hehe I completely agree with this remark on “normal” people. It reminds me of Edgeryders in the early days when we were a project of the Council of Europe. Upon reading the first “youth transition” stories which were coming in on the platform our boss kept reffering to a need to reach out to normal people too, because the usual edgeryders were so… out there :-))
It felt deeply patronising.


@Noemi about the university the thing is I’m planning on creating the space here in Medenine, in the city centre and the only institution (Institute of Arid Regions of Medenine) here that can offer space or materials is at least 24 km out of the city which will probably create mobility issues for participants.
Here is what I’m doing; I’m trying to first introduce the students and teachers around me to the idea of biohacking. I’ve already spoken to some and they are willing to help but the majority now is either are studying or working and they are waiting for the space (and vacations). I’m also contacting professors from the institute that I’ve talked about (Institute of Arid Regions of Medenine) I’ve sent them couple of emails presenting the project idea and asking them if there is some machines or materials that they don’t need any more or broken that we can try fixing it.
Concerning the team, I’ve being talking to some friends about the idea: they are interested and they want to be part of it ^^ I didn’t mention names in the doc because we still didn’t arrange a meeting at the time but again there is a lack of continuity: most of them are either occupied with their studies or work and only available during holidays.
I did see the article and it is really inspiring and encouraging. I know a lot of entrepreneurs who started their own startups back in Tunis where I myself did participate in couple of competitions (IEEE startup weekend’16, open startup Tunisia’17…) hosted by the famous Cogite Coworking space (

we actually won the first prize of that contest ^^!
(i’m sitting at the front with my thumbs up but my face is covered with the hand of the person in front of me hhh ^^)

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Thank you @alberto you really clarified a lot of points for me. I am actually writing a new version of the plan where I am adding new sections Resources/space, Resources/people and the work plan for the space and I am arranging for a meeting with some of the team members in the upcoming days to discuss what type of projects and activities we should focus on.
Concerning the work in Nebras, it is going to be purely volunteering at the start, then we’ll be creating some activities that can generate money for us like private tutoring, academic training sessions or work with some design office (bureau d’étude) as freelancers, etc… besides the membership fees, and at that point we will be able to scale up and head towards sustainability.
About the biohacking community, I totally agree with what you and @Noemi sayings, it’s indeed essential to create what I call a biohackers network not only here in Mednine but throughout Tunisia and why not the MENA region, and this can be realized after we launch the space where we’ll be able to create an online a platform and organize events and why not our own biohackers summit (I know I am fantasizing here but that’s how dreams can come true ^.^)
As for now I’m focusing on having a space first and try to build and create some of the equipment such as microscopes, balance, bioreactors, etc… with the help of some tutorials online such as the web site Instructables (
Btw the idea of throwing a Bio-party is really good, I wonder why I didn’t think of it before ^^’.

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Thank you @ramykim your feedback is always welcomed and appreciated :blush: , there is nothing finicky about what you said :smile: it is really important how you communicate with the people you’re addressing, thx for pointing that out. About the regulation, I only know those that I’ve mentioned in the doc. There isn’t a lot actually since this practice is still new here but I should ask more about it.

Yeah definitely I saw that event before and I am waiting for it to open it’ll be indeed a great opportunity

Dorsaf curious about what you feel participating in competitions and what you feel they could have done better/was missing to help you on your journey? Do you know how many of those startups that people set up then are still around, and doing well finiancially speaking?

I believe that these competitions are crucial for one’s career. They are enriching on so many levels. Through these contests you learn so much about yourself, you discover hidden skills and also what you need to improve. I learned how to manage time in order to deliver the product of my work on time, how to communicate efficiently with the team, how to address conflicts and mostly how to be persistent and have a clear vision for what I want to create. I got also the opportunity to grow my professional network by connecting to people who have the same ambitions and goals as me. However, my journey would’ve being much better If I had the opportunity to participate in similar contests during my high school years where I would’ve gained more expert and further developed my skills but I guess it’s not too late for me ^^, I’m doing that right now.
As for the startups I know GEEC (Global Engineering, Energy & Construction) which is a startup that operates in the field of Green Energy and Energy Saving. It was founded 2 years ago and is having an impressive growth in sales. I also know Datavora, they provide Data collected every day from the marketplaces on the Web, to help grow E-Commerce business and they are doing pretty well financially speaking. There are so many other startup out there and they are growing pretty fast.

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Hello Edgeryders! how are you? I hope you are all doing great! last Friday was a special day for me for two great reasons the first one is that I got to celebrate Africa Day (25th of May) with the beautiful @Yosser at her newly launched Coworking space OURGHEMA here in Medenine! and the second reason is that I got to share my project Idea Nebras with a great audience that was mostly students with promisong potentials and speak to them about the world of biohacking. Their reactions and feedback were really satisfying and so encouraging. Here are some pictures ^^ and the link for the presentation (I tried to keep it simple ^^). @nadia @winnieponcelet @noemi @alberto @ramykim check it out ^^


wow, this looks great. I still cant believe this is happening since our innovation camp only 6 months ago.
Well done @Dorsaf & @Yosser!

I assume during the presentation you asked around the room to see if someone would like to join you and in what capacity? Based on our discussion above about having a team, do you feel you’re getting closer to it? :smiley:


yes i feel the very same ^^
and of course i did ask them and they gave the most reassuring reaction they even asked when will it start ! I am really getting there :wink:

Ha. Now you really have to get down to it :smile:. What’s step one? Spending some time in Gent?

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yes that would be it ^^ cause I still don’t have the place to start it and I still lack some “savoir-faire” but I will definitely keep on captivating and mesmerizing them with the world of biohacking :grin: