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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
[Apply by 2 Sept 2019] The Cambridge-Africa ALBORADA Research Fund - 2019 Call for Applications 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, Babraham Institute and NIAB) and sub-Saharan African institutions, across all disciplines, to initiate and/or strengthen research collaborations.
[Apply by 8 July 2019] BBSRC funding for postdocs to build relationships with industry The BBSRC Flexible Talent Mobility Account (FTMA) ‘Industry Introductions Fund’ provides early career researchers, working within the BBSRC remit, with up to £3,000 to make initial contacts with industry, with a view to forging longer-term relationships. The activities supported by this fund include: participation in conferences with a high proportion of industry delegates, attending industry-led events, such as trade fairs, and visiting a company (or multiple companies) to explore potential avenues for collaboration.
BBSRC Follow-on Fund Synthetic Biology Highlight [10 July - 9 Oct 2019] BBSRC Follow-on Funding (FoF) supports the translation of research into practical application, including commercialisation. The aim of the programme is to help researchers maximise the societal and economic benefits of their research. The FoF is a proof-of-concept programme to support bioscience innovation and provide funding where further work on an idea will take it through to a stage at which the route to application is clear, which may include a spin-out, licensing opportunity or the creation of a social enterprise. The programme enables researchers to conduct activities essential to preparing a robust business plan and to secure, where appropriate, further funding and support to progress the project. The FoF aims to bridge the funding gap between BBSRC-funded research and the point at which other non-BBSRC funding becomes available. By supporting early-stage projects, it also seeks to reduce the risk for future investors. The FoF should not duplicate other sources of public and private funding.
Two-year Wellcome Trust Junior Interdisciplinary Fellowship opportunity at the University of Cambridge (Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology) We are seeking a posdoctoral chemist, chemical engineer or materials scientist who wishes to gain experience in the application of their research to solve problems in the basic biological and biomedical sciences. They will develop open technologies to increase access to biological research tools for scientists in low-resource contexts. The ideal candidate will have prior experience with hydrogels and nanocomposite materials.
[Apply by 7 May 2019] Up to £8.5 million available to support interdisciplinary proposals seeking to work across the food system to reduce the global double burden of malnutrition UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Collective Programme, is pleased to announce investment of up to £8.5 million to support interdisciplinary proposals that seek to work across the food system to reduce the global double burden of malnutrition. This programme aims to consolidate existing evidence and synthesise new evidence for sustainable, multidisciplinary approaches that address the challenge of chronic global malnutrition. This will encompass both under-nutrition (too few calories) and over-nutrition (too many calories), both of which are associated with inadequate micronutrient intakes, otherwise known as the ‘Double Burden of Malnutrition’.
[Apply by 29 March 2019] Turing AI Fellowships The Alan Turing Institute is launching this first call for Turing Senior AI Fellowships and Turing AI Fellowships in partnership with the Office for AI and UKRI. Fellowships will cover a broad view of AI, including applications of foundational disciplines across mathematical sciences, statistical sciences, computational sciences and engineering. Consideration may also be given to AI work that interfaces with the life sciences, social sciences or humanities. Fellows will be expected to collaborate as appropriate across disciplines, and will have the opportunity to collaborate with academia, industry, government and the third sector.
[Apply by 1 May 2019] I2CELL Seed Award from the Fourmentin-Guilbert Foundation The Fourmentin-Guilbert Foundation, a French non-profit organization, is launching a €250,000 seed award to support an experimental research project exploring the algorithmic processing of information in biological systems.
[Apply by 16 Oct 2018] International Flexible Interchange Programme (I-FLIP) BBSRC invites applications for projects of up to 12 months in duration, which involve international people exchanges (Interchanges) between UK academic institutions and user organisations that operate within countries on the DAC list (see external links). Users of research can include private businesses, third sector organisations (for example, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), or public bodies including government departments, local government, and regulatory authorities). The International Flexible Interchange Programme (I-FLIP) aims to increase and accelerate the uptake and impact of previous BBSRC funded research through facilitating knowledge exchange activities that deliver direct tangible and demonstrable benefits to users. I-FLIP will provide funding to directly address challenges faced by developing countries by supporting the movement of people between the UK academic base and user organisations in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs).
[Apply by 29 June 2018] Unilever Young Entrepreneurs Awards Entries are now open for the Unilever Young Entrepreneurs Awards, supporting and celebrating inspirational young people from all over the world who have initiatives, products or services that tackle the planet’s biggest sustainability challenges.
[Call webinar 15 May, Registration deadline 22 June 2018] BBSRC Strategic Longer and Larger grants: Frontier bioscience The 2018/19 strategic Longer and Larger (sLoLa) call invites proposals focused on frontier bioscience: leading-edge discovery research that addresses significant fundamental questions in bioscience. The indicative budget for this call is up to £16 million, subject to the quality of applications received. Proposals must be over £2 million (100% FEC project value) and can be up to five years in duration.
[Closes 20 May 2018] Applications open for Gathering for Open Science Hardware 2018 in Shenzhen, 10-13 Oct The Gathering for Open Science Hardware (GOSH) is a diverse, global community working to enhance the sharing of open, scientific technologies. Apply to join the third annual meeting in Shenzhen, China, 10-13 October 2018!
[Closes 17 May 2018] Dear Colleague Letter: Rules of Life (RoL): Design and Engineering of Synthetic Cells and Cell Components (DESYN-C3) NSF seeks proposals that jump-start the de novo design of complex, synthetic biological components and cells. This DCL intends to engage scientists and engineers in the application of Design-Build-Test-Learn and experiment-modeling cycles to create synthetic cells. It is anticipated that the research will lead to new rules relevant for cell metabolism, epigenetics, interaction networks, and organelle function; molecular components and organelles of cells; and strategies for the design and synthesis of cells.
[Closes 6 June 2018] BBSRC Call: Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy in the Developing World BBSRC is pleased to announce a total of £5 million for Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy in the Developing World and aims to support a number of collaborative research projects addressing challenges relating to industrial biotechnology and bioenergy in the developing world.
[Closes 6 April 2018] Hamied Foundation UK-India AMR Visiting Professorships The Academy of Medical Sciences is delighted to announce the inaugural call for applications to the Hamied Foundation UK-India Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Visiting Professorship Scheme. The scheme will support the travel and subsistence costs of UK researchers wishing to visit India to develop long-term collaborations in this highly-important and topical field of biomedical research.
[Closes 5 March 2018] 2018 CSIRO Synthetic Biology Future Science Fellowships The CSIRO Synthetic Biology Future Science Platform (SynBioFSP) is pleased to announce the opening of the second round of CSIRO Synthetic Biology Future Science Fellowships. The scheme aims to attract outstanding national and international early-career post-doctoral researchers (equivalent to Australian Academic Levels A and B, or in exceptional circumstances, Level C) to expand Australian research capacity in synthetic biology. A key element of the SynBio FSP is establishment of a collaborative community of practice extending across CSIRO and Australia more broadly, and linking into international efforts in the field. Research projects must demonstrate an ability to build Australian capacity in synthetic biology.
[Closes 28 March 2018] HFSP 2019 Research Grant HUMAN FRONTIER SCIENCE PROGRAM (HFSP) supports international preferably intercontinental collaborations in basic life science research. Applications are invited for grants to support innovative approaches to understanding complex mechanisms of living organisms. Applicants are expected to develop novel lines of research distinct from their ongoing research. Preliminary results are not required.
[Closes 14 March 2018] NSF-USDA-BBSRC Joint Funding Opportunity to Develop Breakthrough Ideas and Technologies to Advance Crop Breeding and Functional Genomics The National Science Foundation (NSF) Biological Sciences Directorate (BIO), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the UK's Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) have established a joint funding opportunity to support the development of breakthrough technologies that will enable significant advances in crop breeding. This opportunity aims to make high impact changes in the ability to translate basic knowledge of plant genomics to practical outcomes in crops of economic importance to the participating countries.
[Closes 12 Jan 2018] BBSRC Industry Placement Grants The University of Cambridge has been awarded a Flexible Talent Mobility Account (FTMA). The FTMA is targeted at talented early-career (postdoctoral or equivalent)* researchers who have the potential to be the next generation of leaders within UK academic and industrial research; it is intended to support the exchange of personnel, perspectives and knowledge, skills and expertise between the academic and industrial sectors.
[Closes 14 Dec 2017] Academies Partnership in Supporting Excellence in Cross-disciplinary research awards (APEX Awards) In partnership with the British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society (‘the Academies’) and with generous support from the Leverhulme Trust, the APEX award (Academies Partnership in Supporting Excellence in Cross-disciplinary research award) scheme offers established independent researchers, with a strong track record in their respective area, an exciting opportunity to pursue genuine interdisciplinary and curiosity-driven research to benefit wider society.
[Closes 5 Dec 2017] TRDF: Transformative Research Technologies Support for early-stage development of cutting edge, high-impact research technologies. Co-funded by EPSRC and MRC
[Closes 24 Nov 2107] Apply now to the OpenPlant Fund! The OpenPlant Fund is now open to proposals for innovative, open and interdisciplinary projects relevant to plant or in vitro Synthetic Biology. Projects run for six months and can include biological research, hardware prototyping, software, outreach, policy work and training.
Applications are open for the New Phytologist Tansley Medal Open to early career scientists, the New Phytologist Tansley Medal is an annual award in recognition of an outstanding contribution to research in plant science
Public Engagement Starter Fund An exciting opportunity for University of Cambridge researchers to apply for small grants to undertake innovative public engagement with research activities.
The Collusion Commission calls on UK artists, from all disciplines to propose bold new works The Collusion Commission are looking to commission and present a series of groundbreaking new artworks across the broad spectrum of art, technology and human interaction.
DSV Gamma Funding Applications Are Now Open The Deep Science Venture are inviting applicants for funding from Jan 2018. Final year STEM students (Masters, PhD), early to mid career researchers that may already be looking for funding, co-founders or researchers with ideas for launching new companies are welcome to apply for funding
[Closes 11 Oct 2017] Knowledge Frontiers: International Interdisciplinary Research Projects The British Academy is inviting proposals from UK-based researchers across all disciplines within the social sciences and humanities to develop international interdisciplinary research projects with development impact, in collaboration with colleagues from the natural, engineering and/or medical sciences.
The CRI Paris invites applications for fellowships. The CRI is looking for motivated, innovative scientists who thrive in dynamic environments, comfortably mix disciplines straddling field boundaries and wish to explore uncharted domains.
[Closes 4 Aug 2017] Call open for EPSRC IAA Partnership Development Awards and Knowledge Transfer Fellowships The IAA aims to establish closer working partnerships between researchers and business and two schemes of potential relevance to SynBio SRI members are now open to applications
[Closes 23 June 2017] Apply now for the Biomaker Challenge! Biomaker Challenge is a four-month programme challenging interdisciplinary teams to build low-cost sensors and instruments for biology. From colorimeters to microfluidics and beyond, we’re looking for frugal, open source and DIY approaches to biological experiments.
[Closes 30 June 2017] Apply now for the OpenPlant Fund The OpenPlant Fund is now open to proposals for innovative, open and interdisciplinary projects relevant to plant or in vitro Synthetic Biology. Projects run for six months and can include biological research, hardware prototyping, software, outreach and policy work.

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