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.


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


"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


"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


"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

RebelBio opens call for London life-sciences accelerator - deadline 1 Dec 2017


RebelBio, the world’s first early-stage life-sciences accelerator, is seeking applications from ambitious scientists and entrepreneurs for its 2018 programmes. Science graduates, PhDs, postdocs and academics who feel a strong urge to commercialise their research or who need to advance their existing companies are particularly welcome.

More information from RebelBio 

Our investment  is given with the aim to develop a life-sciences product, commercialise research, or accelerate existing companies that can give the world something it needs.

RebelBio will invest up to $250K*, along with extensive business and scientific mentoring during the three-month period of the program, which take place in London from January 8th to April 8th 2018 & Corks programme from May - July.

During this time, RebelBio will provide laboratory space and supplies designed to allow our founders to move forward technically and business development. The program will culminate with a demo day and is part of an ongoing relationship that applicants will have with the world’s premier early-stage venture-capital fund, SOSV.

This relationship will provide many benefits including access to RebelBio’s vast network of investors, corporates and other like-minded entrepreneurs.

Application Information:


  • The closing date for the London programme is December 1st 2017
  • The closing date for the Cork programme will be announced in early 2018.

Informal inquiries through contacting steven.oconnell@sosv.com.  


*Subject to performance

Expressions of interest open for BrisSynBio 4 Day MBA (9 - 13 April 2018)

BrisSynBio will be running their successful 4 day MBA again in April 2018 and are likely to be able to offer significantly discounted (or even free) tickets to postdocs and PhD students from the UK Synthetic Biology Research Centres, including OpenPlant

Details of the 2017 course are available here: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/brissynbio/innovation/innovation-training-and-events/

Early expressions of interest should go to Andy Boyce: Andy.Boyce@bristol.ac.uk  

[Closes 30 Nov 2017] PhD Internship available: BrisSynBio Innovations Officer

BrisSynBio are looking for an enthusiastic individual to support some of BrisSynBio's innovation activities in 2018. They will develop, organise and participate in the BrisSynBio 4-Day More Business Acumen (MBA) course

This hands-on programme provides entrepreneurship and business training to synthetic biologists and culminates in a dragons’ den pitching event with venture capitalists and £10,000 of prizes. They will also support the broader activities of the innovation programme including industrial networking and translational funding as required.

The post will be located in the Life Sciences Building on the University of Bristol campus, but may also include travel within Bristol and the UK. Applicants should have good organisational, communication, and interpersonal skills and be available to start in February 2018.

Deadline: 30 November 2017 



[Closes 30 Nov 2017] GapSummit 2018 open for applications

GapSummit is 'The world’s first global and intergenerational leadership summit in biotechnology' from Global Biotech Revolution and will take place 16-18 April 2018 at St Johns College, Cambridge.

The GapSummit welcomes 100 future bio-leaders (Leaders of Tomorrow) from around the world for a 3-day conference, which aims to "provide the bio-leaders of tomorrow with a comprehensive overview of current and future biotechnology trends and issues, inciting discussion about world challenges that can be met by biotechnological application."

 The GapSummit 2018 will attract more than 60 world leaders and pioneers from the biotech, pharmaceutical & healthcare industry to the University of Cambridge.


Deadline 30 Nov 2017

UK SynBio Start-Up Survey published showing thriving East of England ecosystem

SynbiCITE have published the first survey of the UK synthetic biology start-up ecosystem, highlighting the changing sources of innovation and entrepreneurship at work in the sector from a macro-level perspective.

The report covers activity between 2000 and 2016 in research and development, technology transfer, industrial sectors, financing and investors. Its key finding were:

  • The UK produced more than 146 synthetic biology start-ups between 2000 and 2016.
  • More than half (54%) of new start-ups are tech transfer start- ups,
  • Synthetic biology start-up activity is concentrated in the South-East, East of England and London (67%). With Oxford, Cambridge and London Universities producing a cluster of activity nucleating in and around London. 
  • Synthetic biology start-up companies have raised over £620m of public (£56m) and private (£564m) investment in the UK since 2010. 

Dr. Stephen Chambers, CEO of SynbiCITE, commented that “Confirming the arrival of a new innovation ecosystem demands evidence: proof that variables ranging from investment, pipeline infrastructure, to talent and education are established and stable. We believe the industry has reached a critical mass of companies, showing a healthy churn of attrition and creation. Roughly 76% of all the start-ups founded in the survey period are still active and with the continuation of an effective national strategy in the future, this ecosystem will undoubtedly thrive, creating jobs and wealth while sustaining the UK’s leading role in the field.”

East of England emerged as the region with the highest number of synthetic biology start-ups after London, with spin-offs concentrated around the OpenPlant partner locations of Cambridge and Norwich. 


Download Report [PDF, 4MB]


Cell-free technology startup founded by former OpenPlant Fellow awarded funding by RebelBio.

Cell-Free Tech is a brand new start up company specialising in giving people the ability to do biological research, without the need for expensive tools and infrastructure. Based at the Microbiology Department of the University College Cork, Cell-free Tech is part of RebelBio, an accelerator programme that helps life sciences innovators, academics, biomakers and citizen scientists to change the world with biology.

Former OpenPlant Fellow Thomas Meany has helped found an exciting new startup company based on making cell-free technology more accessible. Meany founded the startup this year in collaboration with Ian McDermott (Chief Scientific Officer Cell-Free Tech), and together they have been awarded funding from the accelerator programme RebelBio and SOSV (a venture capital and investment management firm)to take cell-free technology out of the lab and into the world.

Originally a physicist by trade, Meany undertook a OpenPlant/Wellcome Trust ISSF Interdisciplinary Fellowship, co-supervised in the Haseloff and Hall groups (Department of Plant Sciences and Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology respectively), where he applied his computing and engineering skills to the field of synthetic biology. It was through his involvement in the SynBio SRI activities around cell-free systems, such as our recent workshop ‘Programmable biology in the test tube’, that he realised the potential of cell free systems to provide exciting and simple tools with which to do biological research.

In vitro or cell-free synthetic biology uses cell extracts rather than whole cells, programming them with DNA to produce chemicals or encode logic circuits that respond to their environment. The technology can be used to create vital biomolecules like insulin, or to generate stunning coloured, glow in the dark proteins. Since it doesn’t involve genetic engineering or extensive resources, cell-free technology can be used without the need for expensive facilities or infrastructure. Meany became increasingly fascinated by the concept: “I just loved the idea of doing biology anywhere, being able to make and create things with biology on a tabletop is fascinating.”

It was around this time Meany collaborated with SRI Steering Committee Member Helene Steiner (Royal College of Art and Microsoft Research Cambridge) on a series of cell-free workshops for the Royal College of Art (RCA) Biodesign Challenge,  aimed at making synthetic biology tools accessible to art and design students. It was through these events it became clear there was a great deal of interest in cell-free systems among the public. However, a recurring problem was that there was little scope for people to get involved, due to the lack of availability of affordable tools. Meany realised the potential for providing cheap, effective materials and after meeting Ian McDermott, a biochemist with experience in founding a business startup, they realised they think the same way. “Biology today is like computing in the late 1980s, simply awaiting an explosion of innovation. Technologies are developing faster than ever but some key platform technologies are still missing. People need to be able to access biology at an affordable price, in their own homes or workplaces and without enormous infrastructure” - explained Meany.

After communicating their vision to Bill Liao (Founder of RebelBio and SOSV investment partner) during a RebelBio conference, it was clear that their passion for cell-free technology was shared. Meany and McDermott left their University roles and with investment from RebelBio and SOSV, the team have set about producing the first publicly available low cost bio-prototyping kit at large scale, while directly reaching consumers through active market research. The kits will include a collection of 50 tubes containing individual cell-free extract alongside a set of plasmids that can be added to the extracts to produce colours, fluorescence and odours. Meany hopes universities, students, designers and makers or hobbyists from all backgrounds will be interested. “We are building the platform technology that will allow innovators from all backgrounds to engineer the materials of the future. Our hope is that the community will build on our initial projects to create and share amazing ideas of their own. We want to see biosensors, paper diagnostics and open-source insulin produced using our kits!” - Meany.

If you would like to contact Cell-free Tech to find out more or to get involved, please get in touch. They are eager to work with members of the Cambridge synthetic biology community. For more information on Cell-Free Tech, please click here.

If you are interested in learning more about cell-free technology, the SynBio SRI is currently running a series of events in this area, such as the OpenPlant Forum, OpenPlant Fund, and training workshops. For more information about these initiatives and upcoming events, please click here.

Report on Synthetic biology start-ups in the UK and worldwide

On 2nd December 2016, Cambridge Consultants published a report prepared for the UK Synthetic Biology Leadership Council, on Synthetic biology start-ups in the UK and worldwide.

The report highlights that the UK has a vibrant SynBio start-up community, leading in Europe and second only to the US and that SynBio tools are the larfgest sector, including strain engineering, hardware and DNA synthesis.

The full report can be found here: https://www.cambridgeconsultants.com/sites/default/files/documents/resources/synbio_start-ups_in_the_uk_and_worldwide.pdf

(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.  


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

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.


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

• 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



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.

Interested in exploring cell-free synthetic biology for global health challenges? - APPLY for Development i-Teams by Friday October 7th


Have you ever wondered how new ideas can help people in the developing world? Are you interested in what Cambridge can do to help? If so, the Centre for Global Equality Development i-Teams programme is for you!The University of Cambridge SynBio SRI has put forward a synthetic biology-based project for the Development i-Teams Michaelmas 2016 'Exploring potential global health applications of cell-free extracts for rapid, low-cost, paper-based diagnostics', mentored by OpenPlant Fellow Dr. Fernan Federici. Find more information and how to apply below!

Global health applications of cell-free extracts for rapid, low-cost, paper-based diagnostics

Researcher : Dr. Fernan Federici, Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge and Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile

In vitro synthetic biology uses cell-free extracts from bacteria or other organisms to which DNA sequences encoding genetic circuits with useful functions are added and expressed. For example, a molecular sensor for Zika viral RNA or a pollutant heavy metal could be designed to produce a signal that regulates output of a measurable response, like high levels of a coloured chromoprotein. Beyond this simple example, DNA-encoded ‘logic gates’ could be constructed that respond in different ways to particular combinations of inputs or provide quantitative results.

Recent work combining this emerging technology with paper-based microfluidics has delivered rapid, low-cost paper tests for Ebola and Zika Virus and small molecule sensors such as glucose assays, which are stable in dried form for at least one year. As no genetic modification is involved, and a fully equipped lab is not required once the cell-free extract is produced and stably dried down, this technology is far more accessible to researchers in low-resource settings than in vivo synthetic biology. The initial cost of engineering biosensors is lowered very significantly.

The potential applications of this technology are directly relevant to diagnosing health and environmental problems faced by people developing countries. Many such problems pose significant challenges to their welfare and economic development e.g. pollution, tropical infectious diseases, animal disease, soil health. By promoting the development of a low-cost, low-resource technology platform the intention is to build capacity in-country for prototyping solutions to challenges identified as priorities locally.

The inventor of the technology, Dr. Fernan Federici, is working on open technologies including hardware and DNA parts that would further increase the ease and suitability of these cell-free systems for research, development and applied use in the global South. With reduced IP encumbrance, it is hoped that knowledge transfer can be accelerated and barriers to access reduced.

The Development i-Team will need to investigate two separate questions relevant to this technology.

First they will investigate the likely applications of paper-based synthetic gene networks in the developing world, and in particular will need to identify areas where local problems are not addressed by existing solutions and there is scope for developing local capacity for research in this area.

Secondly they will explore the commercial implications of building diagnostics based on open technologies that are freely shared and not protected by patent. How does this make a difference in the global South? How does it alter the typical value chain for such technologies? Could open approaches confer benefits in terms of access for the bottom three billion and in what contexts? In particular, are there any mechanisms of sharing IP with the local community which is directly affected by the problem?

More information on Development i-Teams and how to apply

The Centre for Global Equality and i-Teams are running the "Development i-Teams" programme for the fourth time this Michaelmas term. Teams will investigate ways in which real Cambridge innovations could be used in the developing world to improve people’s lives in a sustainable way.

This term’s projects are:

  • Establishing sustainable community cloud infrastructures in the developing world;
  • Exploring potential global health applications of cell-free extracts for rapid, low-cost, paper-based diagnostics;
  • Farming and processing microalgae to address Vitamin B12 deficiency.

Development i-Teams is open to all students (undergraduates and post-graduates), post-docs and staff, as well as all members of the Centre for Global Equality - anyone with an interest in how technology can make the world a better place for the world's poorest.

The course runs on Tuesday evenings from the 18th of October to the  22nd of November, and there will be approximately 4 hours of individual work needed each week, mostly involving gathering real-world feedback from experts in international development.

For more details and to apply for a place on a team, see http://iteamsonline.org

For more information about the work of the Centre for Global Equality see http://centreforglobalequality.org

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.

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

Bio-Start launch competition for Bioengineering Start-ups - Registration Deadline, 14 Oct 2016

SynbiCITE and Rainbow Seed Fund have joined forces to establish Bio-Start, an annual competition designed to commercialise the engineering of biology. The first call for entries is now open.

Registration deadline: 14th October 2016

Deadline for completed entries: 31st December 2016

From the Bio-Start Website: 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

More information can be found on the website: http://www.bio-start.uk

Deep Science Ventures programme open to PhD graduates

dsbInterested in working in the world of biotech start-ups? A new programme called Deep Science Ventures works with PhD graduates to create high-tech startups from scratch even if you haven’t yet found the right idea or team. Deep Science Ventures is a fully funded, full time programme which works with scientists to make the transition from technical expert to founder of a high-tech start-up. They accept up to 60 PhDs, PostDocs and industry scientists onto a 6 month programme twice per year, help you to identify the match between your passions and real world opportunities and build a team of like minded people across a range of disciplines.

Applications are open now for the October cohort. Register your interest this week to joint the next round of applicants: http://deepscienceventures.com

Agri-Tech Career Workshops inc. Synthetic Biology Theme

CambPlantsHub_NewIdentityLayout_vectorDo you want to raise your profile? Experience presenting to a multidisciplinary audience? Find ideas and inspiration? Find out how it really looks like to work in industry?

CambPlants is organising THE event to go to if you are thinking of what’s the next step in your career.

WHAT: This two part workshop series starts with a half day skills and training workshop (11th May) followed by a showcase event highlighting career options and a lot of networking opportunities with Industry representatives (5th July)


Part 1 - Career Workshop: paving the way to your career If you want to let industry know about what you doing by presenting at FarmRound, an agri-tech career afternoon, you need to participate in this workshop! A bespoke workshop focusing on ‘business-like’ presentation skills preparing you for the flash presentation to be given at FarmRound: an agri-tech career afternoon. Researchers will be given coaching. If you want to present in Part 2, this workshop is compulsory. An ‘industrial prize’ is at stake…. Register here

Part 2 – FarmRound: an agri-tech career afternoon A half day event including a keynote speaker, talks from industrialists about their careers, flash presentations from PhDs and Postdocs and lots of time for discussions. There will be an ‘Industry fair’ Drinks Reception where early career researchers can interact closely with industrialists by visiting a wide range of industry stands. The best flash presentation presented by early career researchers will win a super exciting mystery prize. programme available soon. This day will be a unique opportunity for researchers to meet with industry representatives and to understand what it is like to work in the industry sector by being aware of different career paths. Register here

FOR WHOM: Early career scientists (PhDs & Postdocs) working in plants, synthetic biology, big data, agricultural, environmental, food and other relevant sciences contributing to our food supply.

Limited places available – Register your interest NOW

CUTEC Bio-Hackathon - apply now!

CdvYPhMWAAAneP7 With support from the University of Cambridge SynBio Fund, CUTEC is hosting the UK’s first ever bio-focused “hackathon” in the University of Cambridge. Interdisciplinary teams will take on some of the greatest challenges facing biology.

This event is about putting together diverse teams to tackle a unique biological problem. If you are a scientist (from ANY discipline), an artist, an economist or have any unique experience and set of skills we want to hear from you! You will spend four days in a University synthetic biology lab where you will have access to hardware, software and biology prototyping tools. The challenge will be revealed to our teams on Tuesday. The final day of the competition will be a pitch at our annual Technology Ventures Conference with over 300 investors, VCs, startups, academics and students. Judges from industry will decide on the most novel solutions. We also will offer the most commercial solution as much help as we can to take it to the next stage. The winning team gets a £1500 cash prize!

The event will run from Tuesday 21st June 6pm to Saturday 25th June 12am. Solutions will be judged on innovative nature and commercial viability. Teams will present their solutions on stage at CUTEC’s flagship Technology Ventures Conference (TVC) in front of investors, academics, students, and incubators.

Individuals who are interested in taking part will apply via the website (www . biohackathon . co . uk) application deadline May 30th) and teams of 3-5 will be assembled. A well-rounded group of researchers from different disciplines is strongly encouraged. Anyone in the UK can apply individually (team assembled by our committee) or as a team. Scholarships are available to those from outside the Cambridge/London area to cover accommodation and travel.

£1500 cash prize is awarded to the winning team, as well as support to commercialise your ideas through in-kind funding.

In your team you will be introduced to the challenge by an expert in the field then led through a brainstorming session. You will then have four days to refine your solution before presenting to a panel of judges from industry, government, start-ups and academia for feedback on the feasibility of your solution. Winning teams will present their solution on stage at the TVC on June 25th.

Who should apply?

Undergraduates and Post-graduates at any UK University, school, company or otherwise. All fields are encouraged we need: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Engineering, Computing, Business, International Relations, Anthropology, Art, Design, Marketing, and others! Whatever you do, if you are interested in working on a diverse team to create sustainable solutions to real problems, apply!

Applicants may be individuals. If there is a partner that you would prefer to be placed on a team with, please state this in your application. We want to encourage participants to meet and work with new people but if you already have a team then you may do so but applicants may not apply in teams of more than 5 people.

Why should I apply?

Do you want to challenge yourself intellectually in a collaborative environment?

Do you want to meet new friends and potential future work/research partners?

Are you interested in entrepreneurship but don’t have an idea or a team and just don’t know where to start?

This challenge will foster a community of like-minded researchers and entrepreneurs who want to create a better world. The main focus is solving a problem together; however, if a suitable technology is developed during the project, CUTEC will provide resources for the team to turn that idea into a start-up venture. Our panel of judges providing feedback at the end of the event and who attend our Technology Venture Conference are always looking for bright, fresh talent to enhance their businesses, labs, and initiatives.

How do I apply?

Application forms will be available on our website: www . biohackathon . co . uk


A number of scholarships are available to individuals and teams to cover costs of travel, housing and expenses. Teams outside the Cambridge/London area will be given preference. Please indicate if you can approach other sponsors (societies, university department or other) to help support expenses.

We thank the Synthetic Biology Strategic Research Initiative of the University of Cambridge for funding.

When/Where will it occur?

Applications are due midnight May 30th. Teams will be announced on June 1st.

Entries are accepted either by teams or individuals and assembled into teams by the committee.

The event will run from Tuesday 21st June 6pm to Saturday 25th June 12am in the Department of Plant Sciences University of Cambridge. Judging will occur and presentations awarded at the annual Technology Ventures Conference (TVC) where teams will have the opportunity to pitch and present their solutions.


Apply to CUTEC Sustainable Futures Challenge with your sustainable synthetic biology ideas


In line with the theme of this year’s CUTEC’s Technology Ventures Conference (TVC), this new, interactive initiative will gather the best and brightest Cambridge students, academics, staff, and alumni to tackle problems relating to the question:

“How can we enable sustainable supply and production of food and water in a sustainable fashion?”

A resource is defined as a source or supply from which a benefit/need can be obtained in order to function effectively. The UN has estimated that in 15 years we will need 30% more water, 45% more energy, and 50% more food than today. The percent of arable land in the world is estimated to be 13.31% with only 4.71% sustaining permanent crops. However, by rethinking what counts as a “resource” people are finding clever ways to produce food in inhospitable environments, for example one experiment in the desert of Qatar takes advantage of abundant sunlight and seawater to turn out 75 kg of vegetables per square meter. How can we adapt to less than ideal environments to continue to live comfortably while supporting a planet of over 7 billion humans?

We will place scientists, engineers, business students, social scientists, and artists on teams to solve one of three challenges: (1) Compost, (2) Soil structure, and (3) Seed distribution. Solutions will need to take into account and will be judged on efficiency, sustainability, and economy.

Teams will workshop their ideas with industry experts at four workshops over the course of eight weeks and then present their solutions on stage at the TVC in front of investors, academics, students, and incubators.



The Challenges

Compost Challenge

Studies show that compost use in arable rotations can improve yields and resilience. Tons of organic, compostable material is thrown out in cities every day. How can we create an economical way to sort and get organic waste from cities to farms?

Soil Structure Challenge

The physical structure of soil affects crop development and yields.  Detailed soil structure tests can be performed in labs, but this is time consuming and costly. Can we make better in-the-field tool(s) to let allow farmers to check soil structure and resilience?

Seed Distribution Challenge

Cover-cropping is a great way to rehabilitate soil and can provide wide ranging benefits in farming systems. The most success often comes with mixing multiple species; however, these species have seeds of different sizes and shapes which makes it difficult to spread them evenly using current technology. Can we create a way to make it practical for farmers to sow seeds of different sizes?

Building a Synthetic Biology-rich Biotech Business from Scratch - new course from SynbiCITE

From the UK KTN Synthetic Biology SIG As part of SynbiCITE’s drive to commercialise synthetic biology through taking R&D excellence in the lab to the development of tools, products, processes and services for high value manufacturing industries, they have developed a ‘4-day More Business Acumen (MBA)’ course to help develop the natural entrepreneurship that is so keenly demonstrated across their wide range of partners.

Deadline to apply to participate: 4 Dec 2015 For more info and to apply >>>

IndieBio SF - now $250k per startup

The Indie Bio San Fransisco incubaotr programme is now accpeting applications for a September 2015 start.

Apply now >>>

From the SynBio Beta blog:

IndieBio, SOSventures dedicated biotech accelerator, upped the ante for new startups today by announcing it will put $250k into each new company that comes through its program. The seed stage incubator which will be ready for the new class in September, currently has two labs in San Francisco, 4000 sq ft in Dogpatch and 6000 sq ft on Jessie Street near the Mission.

The $250k comes with $200k in cash and $50k in program and support, and each batch, or group of companies completes the four month program which comes with mentorship, lab space and a weekly series of talks.


Biotechnology YES competition - closes 29 May 2015

The Biotechnology YES (Young Entrepreneurs Scheme) is a competition that provides training via presentations from leading figures in the biotechnology industry on all aspects of technology transfer and the commercialisation of bioscience ideas. This knowledge is then used by participants to prepare an oral business plan presentation for an ‘imaginary’ biotech start-up company. Participating teams present their business plan to a panel of business, financial and academic representatives taking the role of ‘Dragon’s Den’ style venture capitalists. Two teams from each workshop are selected to progress through to the final, where winners of the competition receive £2,500.

The MRC sponsors the competition to allow MRC-funded students and early career researchers to compete. There is a specific stream for participants with biomedical projects. We encourage you to make the most of this opportunity to raise your awareness of the commercialisation of bioscience ideas.

For more details and how to apply, visit the biotechnology YES pages.