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Engineering Biology in Cambridge



Helene Steiner is a design engineer working at the intersection of technology and science. She co-founded Open Cell with the mission to lower the entrance barrier to biotechnology by providing affordable lab space to early-stage startups. Where she has supported over 100 startups since 2018. She has lead the biomaterial platform at the fashion department at the Royal College of Art, where she is a visiting lecturer.

Helene worked as a researcher at Microsoft Research Seattle and as a postdoctoral researcher at Microsoft Research in Cambridge, collaborating with the computational biology group. Her research included flexible displays and new concepts for the future of biological labs. She has been hosted as a visiting researcher in the Tangible Research group of the MIT Media Lab and holds a MDes from the Bauhaus University, a MA from the Royal College of Art and a MSc from Imperial College London. Helene has been awarded a Frontier of Science, Kavli Fellowship by the National Academy of Sciences and has received over 20 international awards. Her work has been exhibited worldwide, including at the Centre Pompidou, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Museum of Applied Arts in Vienna.



Lab automation, IoT and computer vision for lab optimisation, biodesign and biomaterials, intersection of design, science and technology


Key publications: 

Open-Source digital:

Rapid genome surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 and study of risk factors using shipping container laboratories and portable DNA sequencing technology

CONTAIN: An open-source shipping container laboratory optimised for automated COVID-19 diagnostics


Director, Open Cell
Not available for consultancy