Interview with Becca Farn, Head of Production and Test
Becca has previously established medical device processes and teams for a neural interface technology start-up. She worked for CMR Surgical on the original design and transfer to manufacture of the surgical interface of the Versius robot.
Prior to her work for start-ups, she worked as a mechanical design consultant specialising in medical devices.
When did you join Evonetix and how has the company evolved since then?
I joined Evonetix in 2020 just after the Series B fund raise, to lead instrument development. When I joined, there were around 60 people, and we were just starting to develop a product strategy. At this point, the Company had proved core aspects of the technology and the team had started to translate that into a commercial product.
We have grown a lot since I first joined, and even the last year alone has seen significant developments. We are moving on from proof of concept, and are now working towards the product delivery phase.
What significant milestones have your team achieved so far?
The Instrument team’s first goal was to develop a test platform with a revised macro fluidic system that would allow us to continue to develop our novel chemistry. A significant milestone for us was delivering that test platform in 2021, which has enabled the chemistry and engineering teams to continue to develop our science and technology together as a close-knit team.
Additional technical milestones have taken place in other teams such as synthesis on chip, enzymatic synthesis and binary assembly. Across these teams, the research is so novel that these announcements are significant moments for the whole Company.
What challenges did you face when designing and developing the test platform and how did you overcome these?
While developing the instrument, we are engineering a product in parallel with scientific discovery and as such, we often have to commit an engineering specification to paper without having all the requirements. We have managed this by adopting a flexible design approach and maintaining communication between the teams.
What do you see as the next important developments or milestones?
An upcoming milestone for the instrument team will be our next test platform, which will integrate product-ready thermal control alongside our fluidic system. This platform will allow the Company to demonstrate and develop the full functionality of a future product.
Do you have any key learnings from when you first started at Evonetix?
From working in start-ups, I’ve learned that founders and leadership teams have an important impact on company culture and direction. At Evonetix, our founders have a real people focus. This creates a very open company culture, in which we are all free to share ideas and work together in a way that promotes innovation and problem solving.
Evonetix also has plans for a long-term product roadmap that spans across all teams and disciplines. This provides individuals with the opportunity to develop their own skills alongside the products, making Evonetix an exciting company with a culture that people want to stay part of.
What are the main challenges facing synthetic biology?
The challenge we are trying to address currently is scale. Synthesizing long strands of researcher-defined DNA quickly and accurately enough to accelerate research is not possible at the moment. We are looking to provide a tool that unlocks this.
Where do you see the Evonetix desktop system having the greatest impact?
Personally, I see this technology as a tool – it is like giving someone a computer or the internet and asking them the same question. The greatest impact will be decided by the customers and I can’t wait to see all the different ways our platform can be used!
What do you enjoy about working at Evonetix?
There is always something to learn at Evonetix. Our multidisciplinary approach encourages a diverse group of engineers and scientists to work closely together and learn from each other. We have attracted a fantastic group of people who are passionate about their disciplines and enthusiastic to share what they know with others.
How does it compare to other places you have worked?
It’s a different environment with some similar challenges, and that’s great! Evonetix is a start-up that brings significant corporate experience from companies such as Cambridge Consultants and combines it with academia and the passion for research and learning. This cultivates a mix of professionalism and organization alongside exploration. I believe these are key ingredients to our success.
For more information about Evonetix, please visit: www.evonetix.com.