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)


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 (; 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

Cambridge-Africa ALBORADA Research Fund: 2016 Call

More info on Cambridge-Africa website >>>

The Cambridge-Africa ALBORADA Research Fund was established in 2012, with generous support from The ALBORADA Trust. The fund supports pairs of researchers (post-doctoral level and above) from the University of Cambridge (or an affiliated institution such as the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and NIAB) and sub-Saharan African institutions, across all disciplines, to initiate and/or strengthen research collaborations. This is achieved by providing funding ofbetween £1,000 and £20,000, for:

  • research costs (such as reagents, fieldwork and equipment)
  • research-related travel between Cambridge and Africa
  • conducting research training activities in Africa (e.g. setting up courses/workshops).

Please read carefully the Terms & Conditions, including eligibility criteria, before applying. 

How to apply

The online application form has been designed to allow both applicants (Cambridge- and Africa-based) to log in, update, save and eventually submit electronically. 

To access the form, the Cambridge based applicant mustRegister Here. Only applicants, and email addresses can register.

The Cambridge-based applicant must then log in to the ALBORADA application form, where they will see the words "Invite a 2nd applicant to view/edit this submission". Click on this link in order to invite the Africa-based applicant to register and edit the forms.

If you are eligible to apply, but are unable to register on the page above, then please contact Sophia Mahroo on

If you have already registered, please Log Into access the form.

The deadline to submit an application for collaborative research funding is Sunday 5th June 2016.

ERA-CAPS Third call pre-announced: “Europe-USA Call strengthening transnational research in the Molecular Plant Sciences”

default-news-call_7 The ERA-CAPS network is pleased to pre-announce the launch of its third Transnational Call for Proposals for Collaborative Research Projects on June 23rd, 2016. The Call is entitled: The ERA-CAPS network is pleased to pre-announce the launch of its third Transnational Call for Proposals for Collaborative Research Projects on June 23rd, 2016. The Call is entitled: “Europe-USA Call strengthening transnational research in the Molecular Plant Sciences” and the Call Notice will be published at and respective sources of information. The purpose of this pre-announcement is to enable interested parties to build their consortia and start preparing their proposals. The call for pre-proposals will close on the 28th of September 2016, 12.00 CET.

The objective of this call is to stimulate true collaboration between research teams of different countries in order to achieve the highest quality projects, to increase synergies between national programmes and to strengthen international research in molecular plant sciences. The funding partners agree that this unifying approach is a fundamental prerequisite to maximise the utility of the limited resources available and to meet the European and global demand for molecular plant science innovation with a long-term perspective.

To read more, visit the ERA-CAPS Third call page. and the Call Notice will be published at and respective sources of information. The purpose of this pre-announcement is to enable interested parties to build their consortia and start preparing their proposals. The call for pre-proposals will close on the 28th of September 2016, 12.00 CET.

Get help to improve your research software - deadline April 29th

If you write code as part of your research, then you can get help to improve it - free of charge - through the Software Sustainability Institute's Open Call for Projects. The call closes on April 29 2016.

Apply here!

You can ask for our help to improve your research software, your development practices, or your community of users and contributors (or all three!). You may want to improve the sustainability or reproducibility of your software, and need an assessment to see what to do next. Perhaps you need guidance or development effort to help improve specific aspects or make better use of infrastructure.

We accept submissions from any discipline, in relation to research software at any level of maturity, and are particularly keen to attract applications from BBSRC and ESRC funding areas.

The Software Sustainability Institute is a national facility funded by the EPSRC. Since 2010, the Institute's Research Software Group[1] has assisted over 50 projects across all the UK Research Councils. In an ongoing survey, 93% of our previous collaborators indicated they were "very satisfied" with the results of the work. To see how we've helped others, you can check out our portfolio of past and current projects[2].

A typical Open Call project runs between one and six months, during which time we work with successful applicants to create and implement a tailored work plan. You can submit an application to the Open Call at any time, which only takes a few minutes, at

We’re also interested in partnering on proposals. If you would like to know more about the Open Call, or explore options for partnership, please get in touch with us at

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?

OpenPlant Fund now open for applications! Deadline 4 March 2016

OpenPlantFund-Jan2016-Poster The OpenPlant Fund will support innovative, open and interdisciplinary projects relevant to plant Synthetic  Biology over 2015-19. Around 20 six-month projects per year will receive £4k each, with an  additional £1k awarded on completion for follow-on and outreach. The first round of applications for 2016 is now open and will close on 4 March!

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 Sainsbury Laboratory for the development of open technologies and responsible innovation in the context of Synthetic Biology.

Download: Poster | Flyer

Apply now >>>

(logged-in users only)

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.

Funded workshop on genomics, gene discovery and genome editing in crops in Peru (deadline 14 Dec)

More info and applications The British Council, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the James Hutton Institute invite applications for their workshop on genomics, gene discovery and genome editing in crops. Funding enables UK and Peruvian early-career researchers to attend a workshop, to be held from 1 to 5 February 2016 in Lima, Peru, that focuses on implementing modern genomics and biotechnological methods in crop breeding programmes for rapid and targeted improvement of crops.

The workshop also aims to encourage collaboration between UK plant research centres and key Peruvian agricultural institutes. It also enables early-career researchers to network, forge links that will initiate projects with benefits to Peruvian food security and nutrition, and improve incomes for Peruvian farmers and food producers.

Early stage crop scientists from the UK may apply. Applicants must have been awarded their PhD no more than 10 years before the workshop or have equivalent experience. Those who have relevant experience and work in a field where a PhD is not a prerequisite to established research activity, may also apply.

Grants cover all travel and local expenses for the attendance of 12 to 15 researchers. The workshop will last for five days.

IBioIC Exemplar Programme (closes 31 August 2015)

See IBioIC website for further information and to apply The Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) is currently inviting applications for its fourth project competition from Micro Companies, for industry-led collaborative research projects using innovative applications in biotechnology. We request applications from projects with a total value of up to £250,000 that demonstrate a defined market need and commercial opportunity.

IBioIC aims to promote collaboration between universities and industry, to drive innovation, find commercial opportunities for new technology and ideas. The IBioIC Exemplar Programme aims to support projects that meet these criteria and that bring biotechnology closer to industrialisation.

The Exemplar Programme is available to all companies from large to micro businesses with a sliding scale of IBioIC funding. IBioIC also offer personal one-to-one project consultations to all members to assist in the development of projects.

Translational Plant Sciences Funding Seminar (30 July 2015)

See CambPlants Hub eventbrite for more info Are you an academic thinking of: - translation of basic plant science into crop science research? - integrating the latest bioscience and modelling techniques into practice? - creating collaborative work opportunities with industry? Or are you a Business interested in finding solutions from academic resources? Would you like to find out more about what funding schemes are available to support you in this?

CambPlants Hub invites you to a TRANSLATIONAL PLANT SCIENCES FUNDING SEMINAR, where you will have the opportunity to learn about the latest translational funding schemes in this area and network with academics, industry and research council representatives. Seminar Programme: 9:30 - Registration and Tea/coffee 9:55 - Welcome and Introduction 10:00 - BBSRC Translation Funding Schemes 10:20 - NERC Translation Funding Schemes 10:40 - Tea/coffee break 11:10 - Innovate UK and KTN opportunities 11:30 - H2020 Funding Schemes 12:00 - Elevator pitches from industry 12:30 - Lunch From 13:00 - Bookable 1:1 sessions with speakers from funding research councils.

Please contact to book your 1:1 session with a funder OR if you are interested in giving an elevator pitch. Do you have questions about this seminar? Contact Mariana Fazenda:

David Phillips Fellowships (close 21 Oct 15)

See BBSRC for more details The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council invites applications for the David Phillips fellowships. These support researchers who are wishing to establish their first independent research group. The research may be in any area of science within the council’s remit, which includes research on plants, microbes, animals, and tools and technology underpinning biological research.

Applicants should hold a PhD but not hold, or have held, an open-ended academic position of lecturer level or equivalent. They should have at least three years of active postdoctoral research experience prior to June 2015.

Up to five fellowships are available. Each fellowship includes up to £1 million at 80 per cent full economic cost for personal salary and research support. The host institution should also make a substantial demonstration of support for the fellow, in terms of access to facilities and equipment, training and research costs.

Elsevier Data Analytics Award (closes 6 Nov 2015)

More info on the Fulbright website In this Award category, one scholarship is generously sponsored by Elsevier and offered to a UK citizen for the first year of postgraduate study requiring data analysis to advance understanding of research in any field or across fields. This could include, for example, the quantitative analysis of research inputs (eg, funding sources), outputs (eg, articles, patents), and outcomes (eg, impact on society) to uncover new research trends, emerging fields of research, or collaborations between universities and industry.

Candidates choose and apply to US university departments directly and independently.

Please read the above tabs for more information about the benefits of the Postgraduate Student Awards, eligibility and selection criteria, the application process and the awards timeline. You can also read profiles of current and past scholars, as well as a list of FAQs, to help you learn more about the Fulbright Programme.

Newton Fund UK-China-Philippines-Thailand-Vietnam call for collaborative research proposals in rice research (closes 13 Aug 2015)

Full fund details can be found on the BBSRC website

Applicants are invited to submit bilateral or multilateral collaborative research proposals comprising eligible researchers from the UK, China, Thailand, the Philippines or Vietnam. All proposals will be required to have a UK Principal Investigator, in addition to a Principal Investigator from one or more of the partner countries.

The funders aim to support innovative basic, strategic or applied research that will contribute to and underpin long-term sustainable production of rice, including an understanding that rice production sits alongside the provision of other ecosystem services. Proposals of up to three years in duration will be encouraged to address the following challenges in rice:

  • Greater resilience to biotic and abiotic stresses
  • Improved resource use efficiency (including Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Water)
  • Improved quality of rice (including nutritional enhancement and grain quality)
  • Novel research tool and technology development supporting the above areas (including systems biology, bioinformatics, screening and characterisation of germplasm for gene and trait discovery)

In addition to the challenges listed above, proposals will also be welcomed in the following areas and countries:

  • Improved photosynthetic efficiency in rice (China, Thailand, UK)
  • Environmentally sustainable rice cultivation systems (Thailand, Philippines, UK)
  • Utilisation of rice by-products (Philippines, Vietnam, UK)
  • Sustainably increasing the genetic yield potential of rice (China, UK)

The participating agencies wish to develop and strengthen transnational collaborations across the countries involved and to support collaborations which will have a real impact in this field. Applicants must successfully demonstrate the sustainability of the collaboration and the potential impact of the activities proposed.

Junior Interdisciplinary Fellowship (Wellcome Trust/University of Cambridge - closes 22 July 2015)

Full details are available via the University of Cambridge.

The scheme is aimed at suitably qualified post-doctoral candidates with backgrounds in the physical sciences (incl. engineering, mathematics and computer sciences) who wish to gain experience in the application of their research to solve problems in the basic biological and biomedical sciences.

The fellowships are intended to provide opportunities for award holders to gain experience in applying biological approaches, and/or apply novel theoretical or experimental techniques from the physical sciences to address biological problems. In addition, it is hoped that this scheme will foster longer-term collaborations between Principal Investigators from the physical and life sciences disciplines within the University of Cambridge.

Research projects must fall within the broad remit of the Wellcome Trust. The research must be undertaken in laboratories within the School of the Biological Sciences or the School of Clinical Medicine.

Exceptionally, applications from post-doctoral candidates with a background in the life sciences wishing to gain experience working in the physical sciences may also be considered. However, this is not the core focus of the Scheme and it is expected that the host lab has a proven track record of life/physical sciences interdisciplinary research. A non-exclusive list of such labs can be found here:

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.


Newton Researcher Links workshop grants - deadline 13 July 2015

Link to original call >>

If you are interested in applying in relation to OpenPlant, please contact Jenny and Colette.

The British Council, working with the Higher Education International Unit, have opened a call for proposals for workshop grants under the Newton Researcher Links programme, a part of the Newton Fund.

This element of Newton Researcher Links provides financial support to bring together a UK/partner country bilateral cohort of early career researchers to take part in workshops to:

  • build research capacity in developing economies
  • building links for future collaboration
  • enhancing the researchers’ career opportunities

The Newton Fund is part of the UK’s official development assistance programme. Through the Newton Fund, the UK will use its strength in research and innovation to promote economic development and social welfare of partner countries.


Deadline for applications: 16:00 UK time on 13 July 2015. Proposals submitted after the deadline will not be considered for funding.

The workshops must take place between 1st November 2015 and 31st March 2016.


Brazil, Malaysia, Thailand, Russia*.

*Russia is not a Newton Fund country and is a part of this call outside of the Newton Fund. The application process is the same, however there is no need to articulate the relevance of the application to economic development and social welfare where the partner country is Russia.

SynbiCITE Proof of Concept Funding Call Opens (Deadline 19 June 2015)

The second Round of applications for SynbiCITE Proof of Concept Funding opens from 1st May 2015.

  • Deadline for entries: 19 June 2015
  • Latest assessment by 1 August 2015
  • Potential projects start by 1 September 2015 (or 1 July for fast-tracked projects submitted by 15 May 2015)Projects submissions will be assessed in the order they are received so you are encouraged to submit as soon as you are able.

    Download Guide to Submission

    Download Application Form