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Information for Applicants



The SynBio Fund supported innovative, open and interdisciplinary projects relevant to Synthetic Biology over 2015-16. Eighteen 6-month projects received £4k each, with an additional £1k awarded on completion for follow-on and outreach. 

The aim of the fund was to promote the development of Synthetic Biology as an interdisciplinary field at the University of Cambridge - to facilitate exchange between the biological and physical sciences, engineering and humanities, and the development of open technologies and responsible innovation in the context of Synthetic Biology.

Download Poster | Info Sheet [PDFs]

Applications are now closed, but info on the funding scheme eligibility and criteria are still available below.


Applicants should be graduate students or postdoctoral workers at the University of Cambridge. They must have agreement from their research supervisor and University cost-code holder 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.

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.


Judging Criteria

Judges will evaluate the proposals based on the application form and pitch presentation delivered at the SynBio Forum event on 1 December 2015. They will give a higher priority to proposals which:

  • Have a tangible outcome that can be readily shared. 
  • Promote interdisciplinary working and exchange.
  • Are relevant to synthetic biology and provide a valuable contribution to the current field.
  • Address focus areas of the SRI e.g. open technologies and responsible innovation.
  • Are realistic given the timing, costing and team proposed.
  • We encourage external collaborations and applications with matched funding.

Additional credit will be given to applicants who have forged innovative partnerships with Cambridge-based external partners and those who have agreements of matched funding for their projects.


Application Process 2015 

 1. Optionally attend launch event and mixers on:

  • Monday 19 October (networking and Q&A in the Darwin Room, The Pitt Building 16:00 - 17:30 and at Cafe Synthetique 18:00-20:00)
  • Saturday 5 November (co-working on application and Q&A at Science Makers, Cambridge Makespace, 16 Mill Lane, 12:00-17:00)

 2. Promote your project idea online to recruit collaborators (optional)

 3. Complete application form by 23 November 2015.

 4. Up to 20 teams will be invited to the SynBio Forum by 25 November 2015 

 5. Present a 5 min pitch to judging panel at SynBio Forum on 1 December 2015, 13:00 - 16:30 in the Large Lecture Theatre, Department of Plant Sciences.

Max 4 slides, one slide on each of application form sections 2-5

5 min for questions

Timing will be strict!

Successful applicants will be informed soon after the SynBio Forum and funds released as soon as possible. 


Overview of Application Form

Form Fields:

(1) Proposal Title

(2) Who we are

Names and background of interdisciplinary team 

(3) The idea

Briefly summarise your proposal

(4) Implementation

Describe what you are planning to do with the funding, including aims, methods, outcomes and who will be involved.

(5) Benefits and Outcomes

Describe how your project fits the remit of the Synthetic Biology SRI and the judging criteria, including details of any new interdisciplinary interactions in the University.

(6) Sponsor for the research and cost centre

Name, department and email address of the individual who will support the project and sponsor a cost-code to which you want funds to be allocated. This would generally be a research supervisor.

(7) Budget

Provide costings for your proposal (up to £4000) and indicate if you have access to any additional  funding to meet your aims.


What can teams expect from the SynBio Fund?

 Support in making your application 

  • The SynBio Fund will be launched with a mixer event for all potential applicants, to facilitate team formation and generate new interdisciplinary links. 
  • Lightning talk slots will give those with ideas the chance to recruit collaborators.
  • Members of the SRI Steering Committee and the Coordinator will be on hand to answer questions and offer guidance. 
  • In addition, an online platform will be provided for project registration and collaborator sign-up. 


  • £4k will be provided up front once your application is successful.
  • £1k will be awarded at the end of 6 months once your output is documented openly online, to enable follow-on and outreach.

On-going support during the projects

  • The SRI Coordinator will be able to offer assistance and support in making the connections necessary for you to complete your project.
  • A monthly meeting in Cambridge makespace will be established with the primary aim of providing co-working space and networking for those projects involving hardware and related software, but this would be open to all and you are encouraged to attend regardless of your project scope.
  • All teams will be added to the SRI research directory and you are encouraged to attend other meetings such as Cafe Synthetique and SynBio Seminars.

Online infrastructure

  • We will provide you with a website on which to document your progress and post outputs at the end of the project.
  • Advice will be available on openly licensing your output and the best way to make it shareable and useful to others.


What does the SynBio Fund expect from teams?

Transparency and monthly updates

  • We will post all accepted applications and presentation slides online on the SRI website, with each project receiving a dedicated page to which team members can post content.
  • Brief updates on progress via blog posts or the website are highly encouraged, we would expect some news every month through the 6 months of the project. 
  • More frequent updates via the website and other channels would be even better.

Involvement with broader Synthetic Biology activities and promoting interdisciplinary exchange.

  • There are plenty of events and activities happening to draw together the Synthetic Biology community in Cambridge and we hope that SynBio Fund teams will be keen to engage with these.
  • You may be called upon to provide advice to other teams where your expertise are required. Although the funding round is competitive, implementation of the funded projects should be a collaborative effort!

 Open and publicly available outputs

  • We expect the output from your project and a brief report to be posted online 6 months from funding being awarded. If you have circumstances that mean this may not be possible, please speak to the coordinator.
  • This should be on the website provided by the SynBio Fund but you are of course welcome to additionally post elsewhere. This is particularly encouraged where there are repositories that are suited to your output e.g. DNA parts databases, software repositories. 
  • Importantly, your outputs should be accessible and reuseable by anyone. This means that, where applicable, you need to think about open licensing, standard file formats and good documentation.

Contact Us

If you have any comments or questions, please contact the Synthetic Biology SRI Coordinator Jenny Molloy on


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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