Biomaker Challenge

Biomaker Challenge is a four-month programme challenging interdisciplinary teams to build low-cost sensors and instruments for biology. From colorimeters to microfluidics and beyond, we’re looking for frugal, open source and DIY approaches to biological experiments.



Whether you’re a biologist looking to optimise your protocols and pick up some electronics knowledge; an engineer looking to apply your skills and gain experience of practical biology or you’re just curious and interested to participate, we’re keen to hear from you.

Participants will receive a Biomaker Toolkit and a discretionary budget for additional sensors, components, consumables and 3D-printing worth up to £1000. Up to 50 grants will be awarded and all teams will exhibit their device at a Biomaker Fayre in early November.


Applicants and teams:

  • Primary applicants should be students or staff at the University of Cambridge, John Innes Centre or the Earlham Institute. External team members are welcome.
  • Teams can be any size, including individuals if all other eligibility criteria are met.
  • Interdisciplinarity within the team is a judging priority but teams or individuals from the same background are not excluded.
  • Teams which span Norwich and Cambridge are highly encouraged and will receive two Biomaker Toolkits and ability to use their discretionary funding for travel between the two sites.


  • All proposals must lead to a publicly documented and open hardware design and prototype which demonstrates interdisciplinary thinking.
  • Except for Cambridge-Norwich team travel, the discretionary budget can only be spent on hardware, materials, consumables and biological reagents.

For full details see the Biomaker Challenge page on

Contact Details

Please contact with any enquiries.

The Biomaker Challenge is organised by:

  • OpenPlant (Cambridge) and the Synthetic Biology SRI: Dr Jenny Molloy;; 01223 766546
  • OpenPlant (Norwich): Dr Colette Matthewman;
  • CamBridgeSens: Dr Oliver Hadeler;