Funding

The Biomaker Challenge Winners and ways to get involved

The 2018 Summer Biomaker Challenge was wrapped up in October with a showcase event, but it not all over. Biomaker activities are still going strong! Below is a summary of activities as well as a write up of the Biomaker Fayre and the winning teams….


Biomaker Activities

Winter Software Challenge (apply by 16 December 2018): Interested in programming? Low-cost hardware for science? Learning new skills with a team? We provide the hardware, you develop software nodes for integrating hardware with new graphical programming interface, XOD. More information at www.biomaker.org/apply-now - a quick, rolling application process so you can receive your kit and start playing ASAP!

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Norwich Biomakers - An interdisciplinary network exploring the cross-over of biology with design, technology, engineering, electronics, software, art and much more. A place to learn about the latest technologies, share ideas and skills and shape projects. We meet up on a monthly basis.

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Cambridge Synthetic Biology meetups - A clearing house for a wide variety of regular open meetings like Cafe Synthetique, Science Makers and the SRI Forums - with a particular focus on building tools and interdisciplinary research.

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Cambridge Biomakespace - Scientists, engineers, students and entrepreneurs are developing the new Cambridge Biomakespace - an innovation space for building with biology in the historic MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology building.


The Biomaker Fayre

On Saturday 29 October, over 100 attendees came together in the University of Cambridge Department of Engineering to showcase and celebrate open-source technologies in research and education. The day consisted of a morning of talks followed by the Biomaker Fayre, where this year's ten Biomaker Challenge teams exhibited their projects alongside industry leaders and independent makers.

We started the day with some inspiring talks: Paolo Bombelli & Alasdair Davies on open tools for animal conservation and the "Powered by Plants" project, Grey Christoforo on hacking 3D printers to create better solar cells, Helene Steiner on OpenCell and teaching the next generation of designers to work with scientists, Richard Hayler on citizen science and education with Raspberry Pi and Julian Stirling on open instrumentation for Africa.

After a coffee break and lunch, we headed upstairs for the Biomaker Fayre. There was a festive feel to the space- gold balloons marked each exhibit, 3D-printed trophies were on display to be given out at the end of day, and attendees filled the space, excited to get involved and try out some hands-on demos.

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Exhibits covered everything from a cartesian coordinate robot for dispensing fruit fly food to a wearable biosensor for monitoring vaginal discharge and a temperature-controlled container for sample transportation. Among the exhibitors were the ten Biomaker Challenge teams. In June, each team were given a £1000 grant and four months to turn their ideas for open source and DIY research tools into a reality.

The Biomaker Challenge judges were very impressed by each one of the projects and ended up deliberating for over an hour. In the end, the 3D-printed trophies (low-cost and DIY of course) were presented to the following teams:

Best Technology

Dual-View Imaging in a Custom-Built Light Sheet Microscope

Stephanie Hohn, Hannah Sleath, Rashid Khashiev, Francesco Boselli, Karen Lee

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"The large variety of Biomaker projects was very inspiring. We had a lot of fun during the challenge and the feedback from people in different fields was really helpful. It was great to get in touch with programmers, engineers and designers. We received a great confidence boost for future more technical projects."

Stephanie Hohn (University of Cambridge)




Best Biology

Spectre, Low-cost whole-cell biosensors for environmental and medical surveillance.

Feng Geng, Boon Lim, Xiaoyu Chen, Jimmy Chen

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"The Biomaker Challenge has provided us a great opportunity to extend our research into real-world application. As most of us come from a biological background, we faced a lot of difficulties on assembling the electronics and programming our Arduino kit. With three months of perseverance and constant guidance from our advisor Tony, we managed to come up with a customised, miniaturised spectrophotometer which can be used in conjunction with our whole-cell biosensor. We received an Arduino kit and sufficient funding to get us through the proof-of-concept stage of our project and from here, we are planning to further develop and optimise our device into a start-up company. It is amazing to think that it all starts with a small Biomaker Challenge Summer Project!"

Boon Lim, University of Oxford

Maker Spirit

Wearable biosensor for monitoring vaginal discharge

Tommaso Busolo, Giulia Tomasello, Michael Calabrese, James Che

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"We all really enjoyed the multidisciplinary nature of the challenge, working with people from all sorts of backgrounds. We feel we now have a much clearer, hands-on insight into how the more diverse a collaboration is, the more relevant, impactful and exciting the results of ideas brainstorming can be!"

Michael Calabrese, University of Cambridge









Biomaker Challenge and Open Technology Workshop aimed to show the value of open, low-cost and DIY technologies as convening points for interactions between biologists and engineers. They are also important educational tools for those who are interested in developing technical skills and have great potential for improving the quality of science and increasing productivity in the lab for lower costs. With the proliferation of digital designs for 3D-printing and easily available consumer electronics like Arduino which has a huge community of users and lots of online help, designing your instrumentation around your experiment rather than vice versa has never been more possible.

Check out more photos from the day!

The descriptions of all prototypes are available at www.hackster.io/biomaker and anyone who would like to be involved in next year’s competition should write to biomaker@hermes.cam.ac.uk to be kept up to date with developments.


Biomaker Challenge 2018 was funded by OpenPlant, a BBSRC/EPSRC Synthetic Biology Research Centre Grant BB/L014130/1. The Biomaker Challenge and Open Technology Workshop were coordinated by University of Cambridge's Synthetic Biology Strategic Research Initiative

Plant powered camera trap - are you able to take on the challenge?

With the help of funding from the OpenPlant Fund, University of Cambridge researcher Dr Paolo Bombelli together with Ms Rachael Kemp and Mr Alasdair Davies of the Zoological Society of London have launched a competition to design and manufacture a prototype of a plant powered camera trap. Deadline for proposals is 30th April 2018.

 An artistic representation of a plant-microbial fuel cell

An artistic representation of a plant-microbial fuel cell

Camera trapping has been transformed by technology to become a major tool for conservationists, playing a crucial role in helping to better understand the effects of threats such as climate change and habitat loss, and supply data that can be used to inform policy and practice.

However, the current popular power sources such as battery packs and solar panels, are proving inadequate in more remote areas or in less than optimum conditions, for example in tropical forest canopies.

To overcome these challenges and further develop this area of conservation technology, this interdisciplinary team are running The Plant-Powered Camera Trap Challenge, looking to power camera traps and environmental sensors, using plant-microbial fuel cells.

Are you an architect, engineer, designer or a scientist? Are you able to design and manufacture a prototype open source plant-BES (bio electrochemical system) to power a camera trap to be used in tropical rainforests? All prototypes should be able to deliver 5v and produce 5000mC of charge per day. Submit your concepts by April 30th to receive an award of £10,000 from the Arribada Initiative and OpenPlant to build and deploy your device in the field.

If you think you can take on the challenge click here to register and find out more.

Calling all biomakers; we challenge you to find technical solutions for biology

This blog post was originally posted on the John Innes Centre Blog on 21.03.2018, and has been reproduced here with permission.

We are today launching the ‘Biomaker Challenge’; a four-month programme, taking place over the summer and challenging teams of people from different disciplines to build low-cost sensors and instruments for biology.

These could be anything from colorimeters to microfluidics and beyond. We’re looking for new, frugal and open source, DIY approaches to biological experiments.

Whether you’re a biologist looking to improve how you work, or pick up some electronics knowledge; an engineer looking to apply your skills and gain experience of practical biology or you’re just curious, we want to hear from you.

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Participants will receive a Biomaker Toolkit and a discretionary budget for additional sensors, components, consumables and 3D-printing to help them realise their vision, with the entire package of support worth up to £1,000.

Teams should include at least one member who is a student or member of staff at either the University of Cambridge, John Innes Centre or the Earlham Institute, but external participants are also encouraged to join teams.

The challenge is designed to foster collaboration between institutes, therefore applications from teams composed of participants from multiple places are highly encouraged and will be looked upon favourably by the assessment panel.

Applications close on 11 May 2018.

We will be holding several events in Norwich and Cambridge to provide information about the Biomaker Challenge and help people to develop ideas, discover new collaborations or get involved with projects:

  • 21 March, 7pm – Biomaker Challenge Launch, St Andrews Brewhouse, Norwich
  • 9 April, 2:30-4:30pm – Challenge Info and Mixer Session, Chris Lamb Training Suite, John Innes Centre, Norwich
  • 9 April, 6pm - Pre-Challenge Mixer, Postdoc Centre, 16 Mill Lane, Cambridge
  • 19 April, 6:30pm - Pre-Challenge Mixer, Scholars Café Bar, Union House, University of East Anglia, Norwich

At the end of the challenge, you will be encouraged and expected to exhibit your device at a Biomaker Fayre in Cambridge on 3 November 2018.

Last year 40 interdisciplinary teams showcased their prototypes and prizes were awarded for the best technology, best biology and maker spirit.

One group develop a cell-free biological sensor to detect arsenic in water, another created a low-cost, pressurised liquid chromatography system for protein purification, and a third developed a new, cost-effective way to take a series of macro images and stacking them in order to create one larger, in-focus, image. There are tools available that already do this, but they are very expensive so this project looked at how it could be done cheaper. Encouragingly, the group have since gone on to secure additional funding to take their project further.

We aim for all biomaker projects to be publicly documented with full technical instructions and equipment specifications on Hackster.io. This provides anyone around the world with the ability to replicate or adapt what our groups have done, boosting the reach and impact their ideas can have.

Norwich biomakers

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There is a Norwich hub for biomaker activities; the Norwich Biomakers meetup group, which brings together a variety of people interested in biology, design, technology, engineering, electronics, software, art and more, to learn from each other about the latest technologies and science advances.

Established in September 2017, the group organises monthly themed events and gives access to a network of nearly 140 biomakers with a broad range of expertise.

Whether biology provides the question, the solution or the inspiration, as an interdisciplinary group we can explore together to generate and share new ideas and skills, find solutions, form collaborations and most importantly, have fun.

Despite only being established for 6 months, we have already seen 3 new collaborations established between researchers on the Norwich Research Park and external people with, for example, electronics expertise, on bioelectricity projects.

We’ve also enjoyed a series of talks at these events from prestigious speakers from the University of East Anglia, as well as from the John Innes Centre and have at least 2 events, each month planned between now and July.

We are always open to new members, check out our online group to find out more and register.

The Biomaker Challenge is administered by the BBSRC/EPSRC-funded OpenPlant Synthetic Biology Research Centre and the Cambridge University Synthetic Biology Strategic Research Initiative.

Norwich Biomakers is supported by OpenPlant SBRC and Innovation New Anglia through the European Regional Development Fund.

[Closes 14 March 2018] NSF-USDA-BBSRC Joint Funding Opportunity to Develop Breakthrough Ideas and Enabling Technologies to Advance Crop Breeding and Functional Genomics

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Biological Sciences Directorate (BIO), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the UK's Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) have established a joint funding opportunity to support the development of breakthrough technologies that will enable significant advances in crop breeding. This opportunity aims to make high impact changes in the ability to translate basic knowledge of plant genomics to practical outcomes in crops of economic importance to the participating countries.

This NSF-BIO, USDA-NIFA and BBSRC Joint Activity is soliciting Early Concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) proposals to support development of breakthrough ideas and technologies to speed the development for new crop varieties.

See more information below and at this page >>

There remain significant bottlenecks to improving crop varieties even if new traits or natural variants are identified, such as producing hybrids, understanding recombination, and epigenetic inheritance as examples. Translation of basic knowledge to practical outcomes can be accelerated by key emerging technologies that exploit genomics rapidly and effectively. This EAGER opportunity invites proposals to overcome these barriers to crop breeding in highly innovative and transformative ways. Investigators considering this opportunity should articulate how the enabling technologies would be used to improve crop breeding.

Areas of research that await breakthrough advances and are appropriate for this EAGER opportunity include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Advancing genome editing technology to generate new phenotypes for greater genetic gain
  • Achieving reliable and high throughput production of doubled haploids from genotypes that are currently recalcitrant to chromosome doubling to accelerate the breeding process in cereals and other crops
  • Controlling and understanding meiotic recombination to tap into inaccessible genetic resources in areas of low recombination and enabling whole genome manipulation
  • Modifying epigenetic inheritance to facilitate phenotypic changes related to environmental responses
  • Understanding mechanisms of heterosis, thereby generating and exploiting hybrid vigor for crop improvement

For this EAGER opportunity, emphasis should be on developing enabling technologies that will impact crops or model crop systems. Projects that focus solely on sequencing will not be considered. Funded projects relevant to the goals of the International Wheat Yield Partnership (IWYP) will be invited to become IWYP Aligned Projects.

Proposed studies should be potentially transformative and must be considered "high-risk, high-payoff" to achieve the goal of making technological breakthroughs to promote crop breeding. Studies should be compatible with the budget (up to $300,000 for US components and up to £200,000 for UK components) and time limits (2 years) of the EAGER funding mechanism. For collaborative US/UK EAGER projects, BBSRC will fund UK researchers up to £200,000 and NSF or NIFA will fund US researchers up to $300,000 including indirect costs. US only EAGERS are limited to $300,000 total including indirect costs. Further details are provided below for budgetary limits for UK partners. EAGER proposals may originate from US-UK partnerships or from US-only applicants. EAGERs solely involving UK applicants are not permitted. For more information on EAGERs, please review NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG).

More information >>

 

[Closes 5 March 2018] 2018 CSIRO Synthetic Biology Future Science Fellowships

The CSIRO Synthetic Biology Future Science Platform (SynBioFSP) is pleased to announce the opening of the second round of CSIRO Synthetic Biology Future Science Fellowships. The scheme aims to attract outstanding national and international early-career post-doctoral researchers (equivalent to Australian Academic Levels A and B, or in exceptional circumstances, Level C) to expand Australian research capacity in synthetic biology. A key element of the SynBio FSP is establishment of a collaborative community of practice extending across CSIRO and Australia more broadly, and linking into international efforts in the field. Research projects must demonstrate an ability to build Australian capacity in synthetic biology.

Fellowships will be hosted at a Host Organisation (usually an Australian University, but other Australian research organisations may also be eligible) and will be a partnership between the Fellow, CSIRO, and the Host Organisation. Fellows will be employed by the Host Organisation but will maintain a strong linkage to CSIRO through a partnering CSIRO Mentor(s) and various joint activities designed to support development of a synthetic biology community of practice across Australia. Fellows will have a Visiting Scientist appointment at CSIRO and may spend a portion of time physically located within a CSIRO research group if appropriate for the Fellowship project.

The SynBio FSP is built on a philosophy of responsible development of synthetic biology technology, striving for ethical outcomes and working within the bounds of social acceptance. Project proposals in the social sciences, as well as in lab-based research, are encouraged.

How to apply?

Further information and application instructions for the Fellowships are available at:https://research.csiro.au/synthetic-biology-fsp/work-with-us/synbio-fellowships/

Applications must be submitted by 5pm Australian Eastern Standard Time, Monday 5th March 2018.

Further enquiries can be directed to: SynBioFSP@csiro.au  

We strongly encourage women, people of Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent, and other minority groups to apply.

[Closes 14 Dec 2017] Academies Partnership in Supporting Excellence in Cross-disciplinary research awards (APEX Awards)

In partnership with the British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society (‘the Academies’) and with generous support from the Leverhulme Trust, the APEX award (Academies Partnership in Supporting Excellence in Cross-disciplinary research award) scheme offers established independent researchers, with a strong track record in their respective area, an exciting opportunity to pursue genuine interdisciplinary and curiosity-driven research to benefit wider society.

The objectives of this scheme are to:

  • support outstanding interdisciplinary research which is unlikely to be supported through conventional funding programmes 
  • promote collaboration across disciplines, with a particular emphasis on the boundary between science and engineering and the social sciences and humanities
  • support researchers with an outstanding track record, in developing their research in a new direction through collaboration with partners from other disciplines
  • enable outstanding researchers to focus on advancing their innovative research through seed funding

See more information and apply by 14 Dec 2017 >>

[Closes 24 Nov 2107] Apply now to the OpenPlant Fund!

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The OpenPlant Fund is now open to proposals for innovative, open and interdisciplinary projects relevant to plant or in vitro Synthetic Biology. Projects run for six months and can include biological research, hardware prototyping, software, outreach, policy work and training.

For this round applications focused on training and knowledge exchange are especially encouraged.

The deadline is 24 Nov 2017 for projects led from University of Cambridge or Norwich Research Park with external collaborators welcome.

Apply now by 24 Nov 2017 >>>

Download: Poster | Info Sheet

Each successful project will receive up to £5k, with £4k up front and an additional £1k for follow-on and outreach after reporting. PhD students and postdocs are particularly encouraged to apply.
 
A wealth of tools, technologies and methodologies have been developed for plant and cell free Synthetic Biology, including those developed through OpenPlant, the OpenPlant Fund, the Biomaker Challenge and complementary efforts. In the current OpenPlant Fund call, we are encouraging applications for projects that will provide training or knowledge exchange to broaden the use of plant and cell-free synthetic biology tools, techniques and technologies. Information about previous OpenPlant Fund projects are available on www.biomaker.org.
 
For more information see https://www.openplant.org/fund/ and join the upcoming mixer event on Thursday 9 Nov 2017. If you are interested in submitting a proposal or have any questions, please email colette.matthewman@jic.ac.uk.
 

Want to learn more and find collaborators?


OpenPlant Fund mixer and a light-hearted look at training!
4pm on Thursday 9 November, The Rec Centre Bar, John Innes Centre, Norwich
RSVP to this event here >>
 
This event provides an introduction to the opportunities and a chance to present your initial proposals and to meet potential collaborators over drinks and pizza. We will also have a light-hearted look at training, including different models and effective communication of technical details. Come along to learn some tips and tricks in this fun and informative training session, and to network and meet potential collaborators. More details to follow.

Cafe Synthetique: Towards engineering circadian rhythms
6pm on Monday 20 November, The Panton Arms, 43 Panton Street, Cambridge
RSVP to this event here >>

Help will be on hand to answer any questions you might have as the deadline for applications approaches and to find last minute partners for your teams!
 

Eligibility

Applicants should be graduate students or postdoctoral workers at the University of Cambridge, the John Innes Centre or The Sainsbury Laboratory. The team must be interdisciplinary, must contain members from both Norwich and Cambridge and may contain external collaborators of any type. Applicants must have agreement from their research supervisor and cost-code sponsor that the proposed project and management of the allocated funding will fit with their existing work. All proposals must lead to tangible, publicly documented and open outcomes, which could include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Design files and prototype for a hardware project
  • Software development and documentation
  • White paper arising from a workshop
  • Educational resource
  • Synthesis and sharing of useful DNA parts or vectors.

For more information and to apply see the OpenPlant Fund webpage

[Closes 11 Oct 2017] Knowledge Frontiers: International Interdisciplinary Research Projects

The British Academy is inviting proposals from UK-based researchers across all disciplines within the social sciences and humanities to develop international interdisciplinary research projects with development impact, in collaboration with colleagues from the natural, engineering and/or medical sciences.

Aims

The purpose of each project will be to develop new ideas and methods to bear on existing international challenges and to deliver policy-relevant outputs which could potentially improve the welfare of people in developing countries. Proposals that creatively tackle cultural, public and/or policy controversies, or explore how such controversies have been understood and responded to in the past, would be particularly welcome. Such controversies might include, but need not be limited to, changing climate, movements across borders, socio-biological problems, artificial intelligence, medical humanities, people and infrastructures, and responses to or understanding of diseases and pathogens.

The complexities of global change and the proliferation of diverse communities of knowledge, practice and intelligence highlight the necessity of collaborative engagement between communities of practice, disciplines, capacities and borders. The British Academy is keen to support and work with proposals that strengthen understanding of challenges in this context and engage with questions concerning the relationship between expertise, public understanding and policy delivery. We are interested in projects of interdisciplinary nature that examine encounters between academic, professional and lay knowledge, and how valid knowledge, knowledge associations and evidence are built and developed, communicated and disseminated, and the factors which can serve as barriers to this in different political or cultural settings.

Eligibility requirements

The lead applicant must be based at a UK university or research institute, and be of postdoctoral or above status (or have equivalent research experience). International co-applicants, and in particular co-applicants from OECD DAC countries, are strongly encouraged.

The British Academy will require applicants to demonstrate that their proposals are ODA eligible. ODA eligibility is an essential criterion – projects will only be deemed eligible for funding if they can demonstrate that they satisfy ODA eligibility criteria.

Value and Duration

Awards are of one-year in duration and are available for up to £50,000. Funding can be used to support research and/or clerical assistance; research expenses and consumables; travel and subsistence; and networking, meeting and conference costs. Awards are not funded on a full economic costs basis, with contributions to overheads an ineligible cost. 

Application Process

Application deadline: Wednesday 11 October 2017 (17.00 UK Time)

Read more >>

[Closes 30 June 2017] Apply now for the OpenPlant Fund

The OpenPlant Fund is now open to proposals for innovative, open and interdisciplinary projects relevant to plant or in vitro Synthetic Biology. Projects run for six months and can include biological research, hardware prototyping, software, outreach and policy work.

Each project will receive up to £5k, with up to £4k up front and an additional £1k for follow-on and outreach after reporting. PhD students and postdocs are particularly encouraged to apply and external collaborators are welcome. 

The aim of the fund is to promote the development of plant Synthetic Biology as an interdisciplinary field and to facilitate exchange between the University of Cambridge, the John Innes Centre, and the Earlham Institute for the development of open technologies and responsible innovation in the context of Synthetic Biology.

More information can be found here: https://www.openplant.org/openplant-fund/

[Closes 3rd May 2017] Grand Challenges Explorations - Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is inviting proposals for the latest round of Grand Challenges Explorations.

Grand Challenges Explorations fosters early-stage discovery research to expand the pipeline of ideas for solving our greatest global health and development challenges. Launched in 2008 with an initial $100 million commitment from the foundation, Grand Challenges Explorations grants have already been awarded to more than 1200 researchers in more than 65 countries.

Applicants can be at any experience level; in any discipline; and from any organization, including colleges and universities, government laboratories, research institutions, non-profit organizations, and for-profit companies. Initial grants will be US $100,000 each, and projects showing promise will have the opportunity to receive additional funding of up to US $1 million.

The Grand Challenges Exploration team are accepting applications on the following four topics until May 3, 2017:


Full descriptions of the new topics and application instructions in English, French, Korean, Portuguese, Chinese and Spanish will be available very soon. These two blogs may also prove useful: Innovation for an Interconnected Laboratory System and Improving Timeliness and Completeness of Routine Immunizations in Low-Resource Settings Will Save Lives.

For details and application instructions, please visit the Grand Challenges website.

The Grand Challenges Exploration Team look forward to receiving innovative ideas from around the world and from all disciplines. If you have a great idea, please apply. If you know someone else who may have a great idea, please forward this message.

(Closes 31st Mar) Deep Science Ventures - 6 Month funded venture building program

Where Scientists and Engineers come together to build ventures that matter.

Deep Science Ventures is doing something you may have never heard of... We are offering final year PhD students, graduates, and post-doctoral researchers to showcase their deep domain expertise and join building the next generation high tech solutions in biotech, healthcare, agriculture, sustainable energy - you name it.

We look for scientific and engineering expertise in combination with enormous passion to solve major challenges to join a 6-month fully funded venture building program. 

Brainstorm and explore technical and commercial viability of initial ideas with industry experts and potential co-founders, while earning basic wage.

If after 3 months you have found the right co-founder(s) and identified an exciting and viable project we invest £30,000 in to a new company and continue to support your growth over the next year. 

If you don't find the right idea you may re-do the programme, join other teams, join our industry partners or move back in to academia with far greater insight.  

Why

Because you want to do what you love, own it and have a real chance at making
an impact. There are far too many grand problems waiting for sustainable
solutions.

For Whom

Scientists, engineers, medics with deep domain expertise and obsession to
make an impact. You will also have interest in starting a company. No idea required.

What

A place where you'll find best possible ingredients to create a deep science
company:

• Founders: 30 talented candidates with deep domain expertise
• Funding: 3-month stipend + £30k investment each for 5-10 teams
• Facilities: Wet labs + prototyping space
• Process: Ongoing support from experienced venture partners and
dedicated specialist mentors
• Ownership: You own your IP

 

APPLICATIONS (5 MIN FORM) FOR JULY '17 ARE OPEN UNTIL MARCH 31

Join full time as a Founder or one-day per week as an Executive Fellow. Find out more about
how it works at deepscienceventures.com/join

Find out more about how it works here.

[Closes 27 Mar 2017] CSIRO Synthetic Biology Fellowships

The CSIRO Future Science Platform in Synthetic Biology has released a call for national and international applicants for CSIRO Synthetic Biology Future Science Fellowships. See below and https://research.csiro.au/synthetic-biology-fsp/ for more information:

 

Synthetic Biology Fellowships

Applications are now open for the CSIRO Synthetic Biology Future Science Fellowships, an initiative of CSIRO's new Synthetic Biology Future Science Platform (SynBio FSP).

The scheme aims to attract outstanding national and international early-career post-doctoral researchers (equivalent to Academic Levels A and B, or in exceptional circumstances, Level C) to expand Australian research capacity in synthetic biology. A key element of the SynBio FSP is establishment of a collaborative community of practice extending across CSIRO and Australia more broadly, and linking into international efforts in the field. The SynBio FSP is built on a philosophy of responsible development of synthetic biology technology, striving for ethical outcomes and working within the bounds of social acceptance.

Fellowships will be hosted at a Host Organisation (usually an Australian University, but other Australian research organisations may also be eligible) and will be a partnership between the Fellow, CSIRO, and the Host Organisation. Fellows will be employed by the Host Organisation but will maintain a strong linkage to CSIRO through a partnering CSIRO Mentor(s) and various joint activities designed to support development of a synthetic biology community of practice across Australia

How to apply?

Further information and application instructions for the Fellowships are available at: https://research.csiro.au/synthetic-biology-fsp/

Applications must be submitted by 5pm Australian Eastern Standard Time, 27th March 2017.

Enquiries can be directed to: SynBioFSP@csiro.au

[Closes 10 Jan 2017] BBSRC 16ALERT: Mid-Range Equipment Initiative

BBSRC are inviting applications from eligible researchers to purchase items of mid-range research equipment.

View full details and apply via BBSRC >>

Background

Advanced research equipment and the development of capability in its creative use is a key component in maintaining the competitiveness of the UK research base. The RCUK Strategic Framework for Capital Investment ‘Investing for growth: Capital Infrastructure for the 21st Century’ explains the important roles of acquiring state-of-the-art equipment into the science base, and the rapid development of people skilled in its use.

The capital equipment budget for this call is approximately £10M.

Applications for mid-range equipment costing over the current OJEU threshold (currently £115k net of VAT and import duty, £138k inc VAT) must enhance the capability of the UK research base in areas of science in our remit (see 'Our portfolio' in related links). Applications will typically be from groups of researchers in one or more eligible institutions, for instrumentation to be deployed on a multi-project/multi-use basis.

Scope

This is a capital funding call; awards will only fund the purchase of equipment and limited installation costs. No resource or other associated costs may be requested, and funding for the costs of research using the equipment should be found through other project funding. Consequently, in order to ensure sustainable equipment usage, applicants need to demonstrate their potential for obtaining continued support, for example via a track record of successful competitive grant funding, or through host institution commitments.

We encourage:

  • applications for equipment that is widely used and underpins capability in the priority areas in our refreshed strategic plan (although the call is open to all scientific areas within our remit)
  • applications that seek to pioneer the use of emerging advanced research technology
  • applications that seek to utilise equipment in novel applications

Our strategic plan recognises that 'biological discovery is increasingly being driven by ground-breaking technologies, such as high-throughput genomic and proteomic analysis and next generation biological imaging, that generate massive and complex datasets'. To support these technologies, requests for pipelines of associated technologies (e.g. automated high-throughput platforms or workflows) will be supported where they come together to form a connected whole, and where the total cost is over the OJEU threshold (the value of each individual component must also be over £10k).

Computing infrastructure proposals should address a need for resources (such as cloud or high-performance computing installations) for large-scale data analysis, e.g. genome assembly, metagenomics and real-time image analysis that build on existing BBSRC investment and funded research activity. Computing equipment may also be requested in support of advanced research technologies where the scale of the data generated will necessitate significant new computing/data management resources (the total cost of the equipment must be over the OJEU threshold and the value of each individual component must also be over £10k).

Applications may seek the costs of initial service maintenance contracts, where these can be purchased upfront as part of a package with the relevant equipment. If these are required, they should be itemised as part of the requested equipment costs and must be fully justified. Costs of service maintenance contracts will not be paid beyond the end date of any successful awards.

Effective and efficient use of research equipment and instrumentation is dependent on trained staff, particularly where equipment will be available to multiple users. The application must set out the arrangements for the technical support of the equipment and the professional development of the individuals involved, including access to training and sustainability of the technical staff in question. Commitments to staff posts for the running and maintenance of the equipment, as well as for the training of users (where applicable), should be provided in the form of host institution contribution(s). Provision of staff, support and training will form part of the assessment criteria. BBSRC may establish a network of such staff for the consideration of professional development issues and relevant individuals would be expected to participate.

Value for money will be an important factor in assessment. Consequently, whilst contributions from the host institution(s) and/or other external sources are not mandatory, they are strongly encouraged.

In accordance with the Wakeham recommendations to maximize the use of equipment and to encourage sharing, the arrangements for managing access to the equipment and the prioritisation of its use should be fully described. Award holders will be expected to put arrangements in place for providing advice and support to others wishing to assess the potential of the technology for their own research.

Collaboration and the extension of access to the instrumentation to industry and public sector users that would enhance the potential impact of research is encouraged, and any arrangements for this should be explained in the application.

Where more than one instrument of a similar type or application is funded through the 16ALERT call, or where a range of capabilities is established that are applicable to the same research field, we may expect grant holders to operate within a network to share expertise and coordinate access.

Applicants are asked to provide details of the institutional environment into which the equipment will be integrated (e.g. existing facilities and related equipment, housing, technical and scientific support staff, plans for on-going management and maintenance of equipment). Multidisciplinary applications, spanning the remits of more than one Research Council, may be considered if the majority of the research in which the equipment will be utilised falls within our remit. Applications where the majority of the research falls outside our remit will be rejected (see 'Our portfolio' in related links).

Applicants uncertain whether the science in their proposal is within our remit must contact us before submission. If an application contains components of proposed research that fall outside our remit, we may seek the advice of other Councils as part of the assessment process.

Eligibility

16ALERT is open to institutions and researchers normally eligible to apply to BBSRC managed-mode calls; this includes BBSRC approved HEIs, strategically funded institutes and Independent Research Organisations (IROs)

  • Categories of eligible organisations can be found in section 3 of our grants guide (see downloads)
  • A list of IROs can be found in the RCUK eligibility guidance (see external links)

Applications that include principal or co-investigators who are not eligible to apply for funding, and/or from ineligible organisations will be rejected.

A research organisation may submit more than one application; however there is a limit on the number of applications from an investigator or consortium. Details of limitations are in the call guidance.

How to apply

Applicants should refer to the call guidance (see application downloads below).

Applications must be submitted using the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system (see external links) by 10 January 2017, 4pm.

OpenPlant Fund opens to applications for £5000 grants on plant or cell-free synthetic biology

OpenPlant Fund offers £5000 to support open, interdisciplinary and innovative projects to engineer plant biology. Applications are now open until 1 Dec 2016 for projects led from University of Cambridge or Norwich Research Park with external collaborators welcome. For this round applications focused on cell-free synthetic biology are also encouraged.

The aim of the OpenPlant fund is to promote the development of plant Synthetic Biology as an interdisciplinary field and to develop open technologies and responsible innovation in the context of plant Synthetic Biology.

This call is also encouraging applications related to use of cell-free extracts from bacteria, plants, yeast or other organisms to transcribe and translate engineered DNA. Cell-free synthetic biology is gaining popularity for prototyping genetic circuits and metabolic pathways and has many applications from production of biologics to paper-based diagnostic tests and biosensors.

OpenPlant Fund teams facilitate exchange between The University of Cambridge, the John Innes Centre, The Earlham Institute and The Sainsbury Laboratory and therefore are led by researchers from these institutions, but are open to all external collaborators.

Download: Poster | Flyer | 2015/16 Report

Apply now >>>

Want to learn more and find collaborators?

Join us at a mixer event at the Panton Arms on 21 November 2016, 18:00-20:00. Great talks from a previous funded project on microfluidics and from the Cambridge spin-off Sphere Fluidics plus an opportunity to pitch your idea or find a team to join!

Eligibility

Applicants should be graduate students or postdoctoral workers at the University of Cambridge, the John Innes Centre or The Sainsbury Laboratory. The team must be interdisciplinary, must contain members from both Norwich and Cambridge and may contain external collaborators of any type. Applicants must have agreement from their research supervisor and cost-code sponsor that the proposed project and management of the allocated funding will fit with their existing work. All proposals must lead to tangible, publicly documented and open outcomes, which could include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Design files and prototype for a hardware project
  • Software development and documentation
  • White paper arising from a workshop
  • Educational resource
  • Synthesis and sharing of useful DNA parts or vectors.

For more information and to apply see the OpenPlant Fund webpage.

[Closes 13 Jan 2017] APEX award (Academies Partnership in Supporting Excellence in Cross-disciplinary research award)

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The APEX award (Academies Partnership in Supporting Excellence in Cross-disciplinary research award) scheme offers established independent researchers an exciting opportunity to pursue genuine interdisciplinary and curiosity-driven research to benefit wider society.

In partnership with the British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society (‘the Academies’) and with generous support from the Leverhulme Trust, the APEX award (Academies Partnership in Supporting Excellence in Cross-disciplinary research award) scheme offers established independent researchers, with a strong track record in their respective area, an exciting opportunity to pursue genuine interdisciplinary and curiosity-driven research to benefit wider society.

The objectives of this scheme are to:

  • support outstanding interdisciplinary research which is unlikely to be supported through conventional funding programmes
  • promote collaboration across disciplines, with a particular emphasis on the boundary between science and engineering and the social sciences and humanities
  • support researchers with an outstanding track record, in developing their research in a new direction through collaboration with partners from other disciplines
  • enable outstanding researchers to focus on advancing their innovative research through seed funding

You can apply for this scheme if you are:

  • an exceptional researcher with a strong track record as an established independent researcher (this can include engineering researchers, humanities and social sciences scholars and scientists)
  • based at a UK University or not-for-profit research institution for at least the duration of the project
  • applicants will be expected to collaborate with a research partner from a different discipline from their own or a different university in the UK

More information >>

Bio-start UK offers £200k of funding & support for your biotech startup - deadline 14th October 2016

SynbiCITE in partnership with Rainbow Seed Fund is running Bio-start, a competition to help promote the commercialisation the engineering of biology in the UK.
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Bio-start is an annual competition designed to commercialise the engineering of biology and is currently seeking people and companies looking to solve significant global problems through synthetic biology.

The winner of Bio-start will receive up to £200K of equity free funding, labspace and access the London DNA Foundry. The competition provides entry into an accelerator programme with expert mentors and partners to support teams commercialise their ideas.

For further information on Bio-start please click here.

Scope of the competition

  • Bio-start seeks applications that will enable the UK bioeconomy to grow and thrive
  • Application areas can be in healthcare, agritech, clean tech, industrial biotech or any sector where engineering DNA is an essential component and makes use of synthetic biology
  • Applications must not be service provision based
  • Applicants do not need to be a company to enter, although to receive the prize the company must become solely incorporated in the UK
  • A key screening criteria to enter the competition is IP status; you will need to show you can license the relevant IP and have support from your TTO or employer
  • All first stage entrants should note the need to secure or demonstrate access to IP when applying

Funding Programme: 'Towards Modernisation of Biotechnology and Safety' - Deadline 6. Dec 2016

Please see below and at the link information on a funding opportunity being offered by the Dutch government for international (Dutch-led) research projects focussing on safety in Syn Bio. The programme is open for international partners too (up to 40%), on the condition that the main applicant is a Dutch partner.
Taken from the website:
"Biotechnology is a highly dynamic field of research, with new developments occurring at a rapid pace. New DNA base pairs, interdisciplinary collaboration, and targeted changes to the genetic make-up of humans, animals and plants are producing many opportunities for innovation. In this context, it is important that the safety of these future uses and applications of biotechnology remain assured. The Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment has therefore commissioned the research programme ‘Towards Modernisation of Biotechnology and Safety’.
The main goal of the programme is to build scientific knowledge concerning the risks and uncertainties associated with state-of-the art and future modern biotechnology developments and applications, as well as to gain knowledge on ways to minimise and control those risks. As research on innovations does not automatically take into account the risks associated with them, the aim of this Programme is to stimulate the integration of risk research into current and future innovations in the field of modern biotechnology. The Programme will generate knowledge that can be used to further refine and develop the risk assessment and risk management system."

For more information, see the link: http://www.stw.nl/nl/content/biotechnology-and-safety

A matchmaking event is included in the process and will take place on 15 September.

Global Challenges Research Fund: £600,000 Foundation Awards available

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The first three calls for proposals to the Global Challenges Research Fund are now open. The Fund, involving BBSRC, MRC, AHRC, ESRC and NERC, was created to ensure that UK research takes a leading role in addressing the problems faced by developing countries. Foundation Awards of up to £600,000 are available for multidisciplinary research in three areas:

  • Global Agriculture & Food Systems Research
  • Global Infections
  • Non-communicable Diseases

Deadline for outline applications: 4pm, 22 June 2016 Awards would start on 1 April 2017, for applications for proposals of ~24 months’ duration.

All research funded through these awards will be part of the UK’s Official Development Assistance (ODA). Applications must be primarily relevant to near-term or long-term benefits to the health or prosperity of Low or Middle Income Countries.

Note for Cambridge researchers:Cambridge Global Food Security and CambPlants coordinate a large network and can help you find the collaborators you need across the University for a multi-disciplinary proposal that meets the funding criteria. In anticipation of further funding calls in this area with a short turnaround (GCRF, Newton Fund, etc),the Global Food Security SRI are planning a series of Sandpit events on themes within Global Food Security to support Cambridge academics in generating and developing new ideas, finding collaborators (both within Cambridge and from external organisations), and submitting bids. Please let Jacqueline Garget – Coordinator of the Cambridge Global Food Security SRI - know if you would like to be involved in the events or if any research ideas you’re thinking of submitting that fall within the remit of the Initiative (www.globalfood.cam.ac.uk).

Syngenta offers iGEM Sponsorship for manufacturing Resilient RNA-based biocontrols

2016Syngenta are offering iGEM teams sponsorship funding to explore areas of innovation surrounding RNA-based Biocontrols. After the introduction of a Special Plant Prize into iGEM and adoption of the 'PhytoBricks' plant common syntax, championed by OpenPlant labs, several plant-focused iGEM teams are participating in this year's competition and may be interested in the opportunity. From Syngenta: "The challenge with RNA-based biocontrols is finding the balance between scaling up the use of this highly effective agricultural tool while also being able to clearly demonstrate the value to multiple stakeholders. Syngenta and other developers of this tool must show clear demonstration of value creation through both the technological development (what this tool is developed to support) and communication development (how the tool is effectively explained and rolled out).

We are looking for iGEMers to explore technical practices that take into account the implementation of such a tool, which also involves thinking through human practices."

For more information and instructions on how to apply, see the iGEM website.

Genome Editing and the Future of Farming (attendance sponsorship available)

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On the 6th September, leaders in the field of livestock genetics will gather at The Roslin Institute where they will discuss the future of farming and the implications of Genome Engineering. A series of talks and panel discussion sessions will examine the global scene and case studies from academia and industry, highlighting the opportunities and challenges in the field.

Who should attend?

Researchers in academia or industry and policy makers with interests in food security and the livestock sector, particularly in the genetic techniques to improve livestock and the regulatory issues surrounding these new technologies.

Sign Up >>>

Sponsorship for Early Career Researchers

The Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is supporting this event with the offer of attendance sponsorship for UK university-based early careers researchers who register for this meeting and are working currently on BBSRC-funded research. BBSRC will consider sponsoring up to 10 individuals within this category, which is defined as BBSRC-funded post-doctoral research staff with five years or less of total active research employment.

  • Sponsorship will be offered in the form of reimbursement of travel and subsistence costs after meeting attendance
  • Researchers who may be eligible for BBSRC sponsorship should register via the process defined for all meeting attendees. Once registered, please request a sponsorship application form from Emilie Brady (emilie.brady@ed.ac.uk); the deadline for submission of completed applications is 5pm Wednesday 6th July 2016.
  • Awardees will be selected by BBSRC Office, taking into account the need for scientific range and researcher / institutional diversity. Registrants for this meeting should therefore be prepared to meet their own attendance costs if unsuccessful. Sponsorship applicants will be informed of the outcome by Friday 22nd July 2016

Source: Genome Editing and the Future of Farming – The National Institutes of Bioscience