Engineering a winner: UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund & SynbiCITE create £200k competition


Midven’s UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund, along with SynbiCITE, a pioneering Innovation and Knowledge Centre (IKC), have announced the launch of Bio-start. This annual competition, worth £200,000 to the successful UK innovator, will help early-stage engineering biology innovators to move ground-breaking ideas closer to the market.

The science of engineering biology

Synthetic biology lies at the cross point of science, engineering and computing. It can be described as the design and engineering of biologically based components, novel devices and systems as well as the redesign of existing, natural biological systems, and its gives scientists the opportunity to design bespoke organisms to carry out new roles. Its potential has been recognised beyond the lab bench – in 2013, the UK government described engineering biology as one of the eight great technologies that can support UK science strengths and business capabilities.

Applications for engineering biology include the development of sustainable energy and new drugs, could help with waste remediation and event begin to alleviate food and water shortages.

The Bio-start boost

The not-for-profit contest Bio-start competition has been created by SynbiCITE and UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund to support UK companies that are working to solve significant global problems through engineering biology. Its aim is to support innovative early-stage companies and people with great ideas in healthcare, clean tech, industrial biotech or any sector that makes use of engineering biology.

Oliver Sexton, Investment Director at UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund, said: “We’re confident about the UK’s strength in engineering biology and believe there is potential to build world-class companies in the UK. Bio-start is an important element in our strategy of helping develop this promising sector. It will also be an opportunity for corporate sponsors to engage with promising young companies in the engineering biology industry.”

The prize is worth £200,000 and is comprised of:

  • £100,000 in funding
  • Laboratory space
  • A ten-week accelerator programme with mentorship
  • Consumables and professional services valued at ~£100,000

Registrations must be completed by midnight on 14 October 2016 using the application form on the Bio-start website and completed entries must be submitted by midnight on 31 December 2016. Application areas can be in healthcare, clean tech, industrial biotech or any sector that can make use of engineering biology.

Co-founder Stephen Chambers, CEO of SynbiCITE, said: “This is a first in the UK for engineering biology and our aim is to help as many companies and entrepreneurs as we can. Once applications have been assessed up to 25 companies will go through our ten-week boot-camp and mentoring programme. Up to 10 of these companies will go through to the final awards event where they’ll have a chance to pitch their ideas to an expert panel in front of an audience of investors and industry leaders.”