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Funding Opportunities

Relevant funding opportunities for researchers in synthetic biology

Research Funding

BBSRC and EPSRC have both invested in synthetic biology. There are no specific active calls but they continue to fund through responsive mode grants. 


Translational Funding and Investment

Rainbow Seed Fund Logo

The Rainbow Seed Fund is a £24m early-stage venture capital fund building and growing technology companies stemming from the UK’s research base, with a specific programme for Synthetic Biology.


Latest Funding Opportunities


Title Description
(Closes March 31st 2017) Deep Science Ventures 6-month venture building program Deep Science Ventures offers a paid and fully funded 6-month venture building program to change the world.
[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.
[Closes 27 Mar 2017] Synthetic biology future science fellowships The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation invites applications for its synthetic biology future science fellowships.
[Friday 21 April 2017] Vice Chancellor's Awards The University runs two sets of parallel awards to recognise achievements in the areas of Impact and Public Engagement with Research. Applications for the 2017 Awards are currently open. Deadline: Friday 21 April 2017.
[Closes Jan 2017] Studentships available at EPSRC and BBSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Synthetic Biology The EPSRC and BBSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Synthetic Biology (SynBioCDT) is a doctoral training programme that combines the fundamental understanding of biological systems with the principles of engineering, so as to create the next generation of industrial and academic leaders in the nascent field of Synthetic Biology.
[Closes 31 Jan 2017] PhD Studentship: OpenIP strategies for emerging technologies This PhD project with Dr Frank Tietze at the Institute for Manufacturing will be focused on a recent phenomenon that can be labelled “OpenIP”, for instance where large IP owners strategically make IP freely available through patent pledges. These seem to be carefully designed by the companies for different reasons and with a number of restrictions on licensees, such as non-assertion clauses.
[Closes 2 Mar 2017] Biotechnology for a sustainable bioeconomy The aim of the co-funded call with an indicative budget of approximately €36.3M is to contribute to transforming the global economy from a dependence on fossil raw material to a sustainable bio-based economy.
[Closes 23 Nov 2016] BBSRC Enterprise Fellowships The Fellowships enable the recipient to concentrate on developing the commercial potential of their research, whilst also receiving formal training in relevant business skills.
[Closes 23 Nov 2016] Tools and resources development fund: Bioimaging Tools and Resources Development Fund (TRDF) aims to pump prime the next generation of tools, technologies and resources that will be required by bioscience researchers. The 2016 TRDF call has a specific focus on bioimaging.
[Closes 13 Jan 2017] APEX award (Academies Partnership in Supporting Excellence in Cross-disciplinary research award) 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.
[Closes 1 Dec 2016] 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 and for this round applications focused on cell-free synthetic biology are also welcome.
[Closes 2 Dec 2016] UK-South Africa Antimicrobial Resistance Partnership Awards ~£80k seed funding to foster UK-SA collaborations that will eventually lead to the development of innovations to address antimicrobial resistance.
Funding opportunities for industrial biotechnology & synthetic biology in the Innovate UK delivery plan - 2 A KTN/Innovate UK/BBSRC Webinar 12:30 - 13:30, Thursday 27 October 2016
Bio-start UK offers £200k of funding & support for your biotech startup 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.
Applications Open for Lean Launchpad for Synthetic Biology 2016 SynbiCITE is now accepting applications for the next Lean Launchpad for Synthetic Biology, which will be run from September to November 2016.
[Closes 29 July 2016] IBIOIC Synthetic Biology Accelerator Call Deadline to submit expression of interest - 29 July 2016 Call closes - (5pm) 12 August 2016 Successful projects announced - October 2016
[Closes 24 June] Internal funding opportunity: EPSRC Global Challenge Research Fund Cambridge EPSRC has offered the University an institutional sponsorship grant to support development of a portfolio of research projects and Knowledge Exchange activities compliant with the Official Development Assistance (ODA) guidelines under the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). Synthetic Biology related suggestions and collaboration ideas are invited.
[Closes 22 June 2016] Global Challenges Research Fund calls for proposals: £600,000 available The first three calls for proposals to the Global Challenges Research Fund are now open. Deadline for outline applications: 4pm, 22 June 2016.
Webinar 20 June: Opportunities for IB & SynBio in the new Innovate UK Delivery Plan Opportunities for IB & SynBio in the new Innovate UK Delivery Plan Friday, 20th May 2016 from 12:30 to 14:30 (BST), by webinar
Opportunities for IB & SynBio in the new Innovate UK funding competitions! Innovate UK has recently published its new Delivery Plan, outlining the main ways in which it will invest around £561M in helping businesses to innovate and grow in the financial year 2016 to 2017. Register to webinar - held on 20th May 2016 from 12:30 to 14:30 (BST)
[Closes 1 July] Public Engagement Seed Fund New opportunity from The Public Engagement team!
[Closes 5 June] Cambridge-Africa ALBORADA Research Fund: 2016 Call The Cambridge-Africa ALBORADA Research Fund pairs researchers from Cambridge and sub-Saharan African institutions to initiate and/or strengthen research collaborations.
[Closes 29 April] Get help to improve your research software 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.
[Closes 30 May] CUTEC Bio-Hackathon - apply now! With support from the 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.
Apply to CUTEC Sustainable Futures Challenge with your sustainable synthetic biology ideas Are you interested collaborative problem-solving and for a more sustainable future? Use your skills and passion to work with people of various backgrounds to solve agri-tech problems and create impact.
[Closes 4 Mar] OpenPlant Fund 2016 now open to applications OpenPlant Fund offers £5000 to support open, interdisciplinary and innovative projects to engineer plant biology. Applications are now open until 4 March 2016.
SynBio Fund applications are in - come and watch the pitches! The SynBio Fund offers £5000 grants for innovative, open and interdisciplinary projects to engineer biology. Twelve projects will be pitching their ideas to a panel of judges on 1 December and all are invited to attend.
Thought for Food (TFF) Global Challenge The Thought for Food (TFF) Global Challenge is calling on young innovators to develop creative, bold solutions to address one of the world’s most important challenges: how to feed 9+ billion people by 2050.
Open Science Prize seeks innovative ideas to advance open science An opportunity to develop new products or services to harness the power of "big data" to improve health.
Teaching and Learning Innovation Fund Teaching and Learning Innovation Fund is available to assist with grants for the purpose of implementing innovative practice in any area of learning and teaching provision. £10,000–£20,000, deadline 22 January 2016.

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The Synthetic Biology Strategic Research Initiative provides a hub for anyone interested in Synthetic Biology at the University of Cambridge, including researchers, commercial partners and external collaborators. 

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