Team:Paris Bettencourt/HP/Silver


Silver HP

Our Market Research: Understanding the future context of use of Medusa

The first thing on our task list was to scope out the industry and size up the competition, so we focused on market research. To ensure that our axes of development were in line with the expectation of our future users, we attempted to determine what would attract or deter them from using our 3D-bioprinting device.
To understand what the target users would print with our device, we analyzed what the 3D printing community is currently printing. To do so we extracted the downloading, liking and printing activity on, one of the most popular and open source 3D-templates database.
Popular Categories on

As primary research, we found surveys to be the best way to get the information we needed in a short amount of time. We therefore designed surveys for 3D printer users. Our goal with our surveys was to understand:
  • the place the 3D printer has inside of the technological arsenal of today as well as where it will stand in the future.
  • how 3D printer users view the device and why they use it.
We posted on facebook hobby groups to question the 3D-printing community on its vision of bacterial printing. We noted that 3D printing was mostly used by DIY hobbyists who would like to reduce the time and cost of 3D printing. In addition, low performances for safety efficiency and speed were flagged as the key hold-backs to using a 3D-bioprinter.
What Would Deter You Most From Using a Bio-3D-printer?

What Are You Most Likely to Print?
Would you like to try bioprinting stuff ?

The initial result of our online research showed that the idea of printing biomaterials with a 3D-bioprinter is well received within the DIY community. Given the biosafety and operating requirements of a bioprinter, we inferred that biohacker spaces and fablabs would be its ideal context of use.

In order to get more information, we then conducted interviews in several fablabs and makerspaces in Paris. In addition to our initial survey, we were eager to target the fablab community for two main reasons:
  • this community represents a lot of values we stand for: giving the means for people to create products and experiment in a creative way.
  • this huge community is present around the world and displaying our biomaterial 3D printer in such places would help us reach a wider audience.

  • We visited Fablab University Paris VII Diderot, La Paillasse, Pasteur Fablab, Le Petit Fablab de Paris, Usine IO, Volumes, WoMa, and we also interviewed David Sun Kong from the MIT Media Lab.

    We picked those fablabs in particular because they are all very different, from the business incubator to the volunteer-run community fablab, and the people in charge had very different personal opinions about 3D printers, which made the interviews particularly interesting. We also notice that the type of customers varies according to the type of fablab/makerspace, thus we were able to target customers such as regulars, private individuals or companies.

    When asking whether those fablabs would likely purchase our future device, we actually realized that professionals are very much divided on the importance of current 3D printers: while some believe it’s an extraordinary machine that will keep on expanding and become indispensable in the future, others see the device as overly hyped by the media and only used to produce prototypes.

    Regardless of their opinion on current 3D-printing, all our interviewees converged on the fact that technicality and safety hazards associated with the microbiology would hinder the use of our printer. In addition, the more "bio-aware" biohacker spaces seemed more concerned by the efficiency and speed of our innovation.

    Overall we received very interesting comments and relevant feed back from our interview. Watch how Medusa was perceived by maker space in our summary footage .

Interviewing David Sun Kong from the MIT Media Lab
The take-home message for our interviews was that every fablab we talked to would be willing to display our printer, as long as it safe to use. This is very encouraging for the future of our project and we hope that one day, we will be able to distribute our product to fablabs all over the world.


As we are using bacteria to make our biomaterial 3D printer, our work needs to be safe. This is why we considered implementing a cell-lysis system inside of our design. Therefore it would be easy to activate the lysis and kill the cell.

We obtained very positive feedback. We had been afraid that people would be scared or wary towards our project, but it was surprising and gratifying to see that they were actually more intrigued and interested in what our printer could actually do. To even go further with the safety issue, we went to Brussels, to the European Union headquarters and met with Dr. Namorado, a member of the ethical board in the EU’s Directorate-General for Research and Innovation. We discussed our project with her and explained our concern about safety. We reviewed together the EU’s Horizon 2020 ethical criteria and we made sure that our work was in compliance with it.

Environmental Impact

When designing our biomaterial 3D printer, we kept in mind the environmental impact, as we believe the era of plastic and other fossil-fuel based products is over. By working with 3 different biomaterials, produced by bacteria, we ensure that the end result will be totally biodegradable, and renewable by compost. We took this essential parameter into account while developing the market research. Biomaterials will be a key elements of the products of the future, and we want to replace polluting materials with eco-friendly, biocompatible ones.

Advice for iGEM Entrepreneurs

Our market research taught us a lot on the key aspects to keep in mind when building a start up. A lot we learnt was from Shazzad Mukit, a former iGEMer turned entrepreneur. We include here his advice and recommendations to future iGEM entrepreneurs!

One of the founding members of Unibiome, a 2015 iGEM Team turned start-up. Check them out at: Unibiome

Centre for Research and Interdisciplinarity (CRI)
Faculty of Medicine Cochin Port-Royal, South wing, 2nd floor
Paris Descartes University
24, rue du Faubourg Saint Jacques
75014 Paris, France