The UK’s First Bio-Hackathon to take place in Cambridge

  • Posted on 20 June, 2016

The UK’s first Bio-Hackathon takes place in Cambridge this week from 21st – 25th June. This marathon 72-hour competition, fuelled by caffeine and passion, will aim to solve some of the biggest problems in biology including reducing our carbon footprint, creating pest resistant crops and developing life saving medicine. Quite simply, bio-hacking is programming biology as if it was software, but using DNA.

Fifty participants, split into ten teams, will compete in the state-of-the-art University of Cambridge Plant Science laboratory, the very same one where Darwin cut his teeth as an undergraduate. After an exhausting three days ten teams will pitch their solutions at the Technology Venture Conference to a 500 strong crowd of investors, entrepreneurs and academics. Winners take £1500 cash, investment, mentorship and a place on the Judge Business School’s Accelerate Cambridge.

The overarching challenge is to make the study of biology faster and more reproducible. The teams will build microscopes, programme robots, assemble DNA and genetically modify cells and more. The fifty participants have been split into ten teams with diverse skills. Biologists mingle with computer programmers, designers and MBA’s. This interdisciplinary environment fuels lateral thinking and helps catalyse novel solutions.

During the three-day event, teams will receive intense mentorship from our company advisors, both start-ups and established businesses. These include:

  • Bento Bio, a London startup, are building the Raspberry Pi of biology, founder Phillip Boeing will present a lunchbox-sized lab for doing experiments anywhere.
  • Synthace is building a programming language for biology called Antha.
  • Synbiobeta is a San Francisco synthetic biology community founded by NASA scientist John Cumbers.
  • Cambridge Consultants is a local engineering consultancy and Richard Hammond will use his years of experience to help teams in device prototyping.
  • Microsoft Research user experience lead, Helene Steiner, will teach teams not just to create but to ask how users will interact with what they create, this is something she has learned through the Royal College of Art, London and MIT Media Labs.

If you would like to visit this event or you’d like more information please contact organiser Thomas Meany (Tel:+447593453277 or