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Engineering Biology in Cambridge


Open Technology Week showcases and celebrates open source technologies for research and education developed across Cambridge and beyond. This multi-day event includes lectures, demos and workshops that explore examples of open technologies and their implications, featuring over 40 teams that participated in the Biomaker Challenge and others with maker projects to share.

View PDF Programme View A4 Poster

Open Technology Week will showcase and celebrate open and open source technologies for research and education developed across Cambridge and beyond. The advance of open source software, open hardware systems such as Arduino, alongside 3D printing technologies and open biological tools, is boosting a maker ethos in science.

This three day event includes lectures, and workshops which will take place between 20-22 October 2017, including exciting talks and then demos at our Biomaker Fayre on 21 October. This is an exploration of many examples of open technologies and their implications, featuring over 40 teams who participated in the 2017 Biomaker Challenge and others with maker projects to exhibit. The event will also feature a Science Make-a-thon at Makespace - open to all.

Please register for the event using the esales form.


Sensors Day - 20 Oct 2017

Robinson College. Organised by Sensor CDT and CamBridgeSens network

Sensors Day 2017 will showcase highlights of sensor research and applications from all areas of science and technology. This year we have a diverse field of speakers covering the nano, micro and macro scale of sensing, from nanotechnology to humans and robots.

For further information please contact the .


Open Technology Workshop and Biomaker Fayre  - 21 Oct 2017

Department of Engineering, Trumpington Street, Cambridge. Organised by the Department of Engineering and SynBio SRI

Open Technology Week will showcase and celebrate open and open source technologies for research and education developed across Cambridge and beyond. 

In this workshop, we will explore many examples of open technologies and their implications through exciting talks on everything from distributed 3D printing in Africa, open hardware in Brazil and universities collaborating with companies to create open technologies in Denmark. The opening address will be given by Alexandre Kabla, Senior Lecturer in mechanics of biological materials in the Department of Engineering and founder of the OpenLabTools initiative.

Register now >>

(£5-10 inc. lunch and drinks reception, free for exhibitors and those in financial hardship)



09:30 - 12:40   Open Technology Workshop 

09:30 - 09:40 Welcome, Alexandre Kabla (University of Cambridge)

09:40 - 10:10 
Rafael Pezzi, UFRGS, Centre for Academic Technologies, 'Brazil Emerging openness in science: from open-access to open-source hardware'

10:10 - 10:35 
Tobey Wenzel, Department of Physics, University of Cambridge University, and founder of Journal of Open Hardware Make it work - share and publish Open Science Hardware

10:35 - 11:00
Marie-Louise Conradsen SPOMAN Open Science Community: 'Brokering trust – how open science can benefit both industry and academia'

11:00 - 11:30 Coffee Break

11:30 - 11:55 
Paolo Bombelli (University of Cambridge) on 'The Big Algal Open Experiment'

11:55 - 12:20 
Anna Lowe Kumasi Hive makerspace, Ghana. 'Open Infrastructure for Local Manufacturing'

12:20 - 12:30 
Wrap-up, Jenny Molloy (University of Cambridge)

12:30 - 13:30 Lunch

13:30 - 16:30 Mini Maker Faire

16:15 - 16:30  Prize Giving

16:30 - 18:00 Panel Discussion followed by drinks

18:30 onwards Reception and Pizza in Makespace

For more details about the speakers and their talks visit here


The Biomaker Fayre 

The Biomaker Fayre will include demonstrations of open source biological instruments, lab and field equipment featuring over 40 teams who participated in the 2017 Biomaker Challenge. All others with maker projects related to science and biology are invited to exhibit! We'll have everything from spectrometers for measuring the colour of penguin guano, microfluidics for tissue culture, to ultrasonic systems for measuring plant height and 3D printed modular microscopes.

Want to exhibit?

  • Please do! Biomaker Fayre exhibitors can attend the Open Technology Workshop and Biomaker Fayre free of charge.
  • Every individual exhibitor should register using the esales form under 'concessions'.
  • Each exhibit must also complete an exhibit registration form.


Opening address

Alexandre Kabla, senior lecturer in mechanics of biological materials in the Department of Engineering.

Alexandre characterises the role of mechanical forces and physical constraints in the dynamics of large cell populations using experimental design, data analysis and modelling.


Rafael Pezzi, UFRGS, Centre for Academic Technologies, Brazil, 

Prof. Rafael Pezzi is a physicist working on the promotion of knowledge freedom and collaboration on all aspects of science and education. Since 2012, Rafael coordinates the Centro de Tecnologia Acadêmica (CTA) at the Institute of Physics of the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Brazil. The center is focused on the development of free and open source technologies and its applications on science and education.

Rafael is also engaged on the upgrade of the A Large Ion Collider Experiment (ALICE) of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. The ALICE experiment study the properties of the Quark-Gluon-Plasma, a state of matter obtained at extremely high temperature and densities, through the collision of relativistic heavy ions.

'Emerging openness in science: from open-access to open-source hardware'

The practice of science is marked by several transitions which are usually driven by new discoveries. Nowadays we are witnessing a transformation driven by new tools, communication capabilities, and sharing practices that are usually associated with Open Science. A new mode of intellectual production and dissemination is emerging where not only the results of scientific discoveries are publicly available for use and reuse, but also its methods and tools. This talk will highlight parallels of communication and evolutionary biology and present free and open source hardware as an eminent transformation on the practice of science.  


Anna Lowe Kumasi Hive makerspace, Ghana.

Anna's background includes running a factory, a stint as managing director of a tech start-up, and nearly a decade of supply chain consulting for multinational pharmaceutical companies and later the Global Fund to fight Aids, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. She became convinced that digital fabrication and miniaturisation of manufacturing technologies offer the possibility for less developed economies to leapfrog to a new supply chain model - of networked local manufacturing. Anna moved to Ghana to co-found Kumasi Hive, a makerspace that supports innovators to build businesses out of their ideas. In 2016 she became one of the founding members of the MakerNet consortium, created to explore business models and open digital tools for local manufacturing around the world. She is now leading the creation of a new organisation to take this work forwards.

'Open Infrastructure for Local Manufacturing'

Imagine if when an oxygen flow meter breaks in a clinic in Kenya, instead of the machine being useless, they just get a local maker to produce a spare part from an online catalogue of open designs. Imagine if a refugee living in a camp could access a list of business models that have worked in similar situations, including open designs for making products that the NGO running the camp needs to buy for the inhabitants. Imagine if a government, placing an order for products for its schools or hospitals across the country, could place one order and have that order distributed across tens or hundreds of local manufacturers. All of them able to make things to the same design and the same quality standards with minimal transaction costs.

This is the MakerNet concept. This talk will describe the work done so far, discuss some of the challenges, and outline the route forwards – including how you can get involved.


Brenda Parker, Biochemical Engineering, UCL and Research Associate at the Algal Biotechnology Consortium and Paolo Bombelli, Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge collaborate on a citizen science project which aims to enhance our knowledge of micro-algae cultivation by inviting universities, schools and members of the general public to participate in a data collection on outdoor micro-algal growth in multiple locations across the UK.

'The Big Algal Open Experiment'

Paulo and Brenda have have devised a citizen science project called the “Big Algae Open Experiment”. They have developed an open-source airlift bioreactor that can be used by participants to cultivate microalgae under natural lighting conditions. This is designed to be cheap to manufacture and simple to build and operate. They have also developed a visual method of measuring cell yield that does not rely upon expensive laboratory equipment, instead using a machine learning algorithm to analyse photos taken of the cultures with cell-phones and relate the colour of the culture to the concentration of the cells it contains. These are made publicly available giving participants the tools they need to perform the experiment.


Marie-LouiseSPOMAN Open Science Community

Marie-Louise coordinates the SPOMAN Open Science Community which fosters  university-industry interaction. The community translates the manufacturing sector’s need for new smart materials (e.g. reversible and sustainable materials) into basic research projects. The members actively share data, equipment, knowledge and results with each other and the rest of the world and companies are offered a risk-free platform to explore the value proposition of basic research to industrial innovation. SPOMAN Open Science takes legal measures to ensure that the direct output of the projects can not be patented – such as concepts for new materials and technologies. However anyone is free to protect the specific applications of the results for e.g. product development. 

'Brokering trust – how open science can benefit both industry and academia'

Aarhus University and 18 manufacturing companies have joined forces in finding new classes of smart polymer materials and technologies – and they share the results with the world free of charge. The open collaboration resembles a knowledge based community. Although at a very early stage, the community already shows promise to yield long-term financial benefits for both academia and industry. These benefits seem to be closely linked to the trust that arises between partners in a no-fee, open and informal collaborative set-up.

Tobey Wenzel, Department of Physics, University of Cambridge, and founder of the Journal of Open Hardware

Tobey is a biophysicist investigating the function and control of biological cells at technological interfaces e.g. in microbial solar cells and microfluidics. Beyond his own research projects, he has pushed for a modern open source approach to the the development of hardware in experimental disciplines. He started the hardware documentation tool DocuBricks and founded the open access Journal of Open Hardware. He is also currently a Mozilla Open Lead.


'Make it work - share and publish Open Science Hardware'

Do we really need new tools for hardware documentation and publication? Open Hardware works differently than Free and Open Source Software in several regards, but if documented and shared appropriately it can lead to better science and higher project impact. Benefits include more visibility, enhanced experimental reproducibility, lower hand-over losses in the lab, lower cost, user accessibility, data-control, and external contributions to key laboratory tools. The talk offers practical advise on how to get involved in Open Science Hardware, and what to consider when sharing and publishing outcomes.


Science Make-a-thon - 22 Oct 2017

Makespace, 16 Mill Lane, Cambridge, CB2 1RX. Organised by SynBio SRI

The advance of open source software, open hardware systems such as Arduino, alongside 3D printing technologies and open biological tools, is boosting a maker ethos in science. Come along and try your hand at solving design challenges using open source technologies.