Biotechnological automation is held back by many factors: lack of software engineering knowledge, entrenched interests, and expensive hardware. However, I don't believe those are the primary problems holding back biotech automation (we do have Opentrons, after all). I think it is the cult of needing 99.99% reliability.
By 99.99% reliability, I mean having systems in place which simply *do not fail*, usually by using extremely expensive robotics. Why is that reliability required? Biology, itself, is specialized and evolved over billions of years for a single objective: make more of itself. The basic inputs to biotechnology are cheap raw chemicals and yeast extract. So why not run everything twice, or three times, instead of relying on expensive extremely reliable systems?
Well, the answer comes down to expensive complex inputs, like enzymes. Although the basic inputs are cheap raw chemicals, the processing of those inputs into useful molecules and enzymes takes expertise, and the commercial price reflects this fact.
My solution is to express and purify my own enzymes, not to make them more affordable than the commercial supplied versions, but to enable an entirely different way of thinking about automating biotech procedures. Don't get 99.99% reliability. Just do it twice.