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The OpenPlant Fund supports innovative, open and interdisciplinary projects relevant to plant synthetic biology and cell-free systems over 2015-19. Up to 20 six-month projects per year will receive £4k each, with an additional £1k awarded on completion for follow-on and outreach.

The Fund has proved to be a highly effective way of providing important support for independent small projects and promoting valuable new collaborations among young researchers, along with the development and documentation of open source biology, hardware and bioinstrumentation. The Fund has supported over 60 projects to date, and in a short period of time, we have seen some notable outcomes. Click on the images below for some project examples. All projects are documented on the website

The next funding round is expected to open in summer 2018.


The aim of the fund is to promote the development of plant synthetic biology and cell-free systems as interdisciplinary fields 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.

A wealth of tools, technologies and methodologies for plant Synthetic Biology have been developed through OpenPlant, the OpenPlant Fund, the Biomaker Challenge, and complementary efforts. In this call, we encourage applications for projects that will provide training or knowledge exchange to broaden the use of plant synthetic biology and cell-free tools.


Applicants and teams:

  • Primary applicants should be students or staff at the University of Cambridge, John Innes Centre or the Earlham Institute. External team members are welcome.
  • Interdisciplinarity within the team is a judging priority but teams from the same background are not excluded.
  • Where possible, projects should build collaborations between the University of Cambridge and a Norwich-based OpenPlant partner institute: the John Innes Centre or the Earlham Institute.


  • All proposals must lead to tangible, publicly documented and open outcomes which demonstrate interdisciplinary thinking.
  • Applications for travel or event funding without justification of how this will lead to a tangible outcome or resource will not be considered. Salary or stipend costs will not be funded.

Contact Details

Please contact Dr Colette Matthewman with any enquiries at or on +44 (0)1603 450267.