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Automation and robotics for synthetic biology

The Knowledge Transfer Network

Thursday, 25 February 2016 from 09:30 to 16:30 (GMT)

Automation and robotics for synthetic biology

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Automation and robotics for Synthetic Biology Ended Free  

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Event Details


The availability of synthetic genes at commodity prices and the possibility of automated (potentially remotely operated laboratories) will be key drivers for synthetic biology over the next three years. This, coupled with innovations in miniaturisation, standardisation and metrology, will realise the vision of taking experimental sciences into the design-test-build era freeing up scientists for creative thinking and design rather than repetitive lab work.The robotics required by synthetic biology are of modest sophistication, but there is a need for simple, easy to use and cost effective off-the-shelf solutions that can be easily integrated as part of an engineering workflow.



This workshop aims to address the knowledge gap between many synthetic biology researchers and the automation and robotics communities.  The specific objectives are to:

  • Identify common challenges for automation and robotics integration into synthetic biology projects and how these challenges have been addressed in other similar fields;
  • Identify areas of added value for automation and robotics and new disruptive technologies that could have a long-term impact on the field;
  • Support new collaborations between UK synthetic biology researchers and providers of automation and robotics, and suggest potential ways forward for KTN and Innovate UK.


Draft agenda



Speaker / lead

09:30 – 10:00

Arrival and refreshments

10:00 - 10:10

Welcome and introduction to the day

Dr Andy Boyce, KTN

10:10 – 10:40

Why does synthetic biology need robotics, automation and robotics?

Prof Alistair Elfick, University of Edinburgh

Dr David McClymont, SynBiCITE

10:40 - 11:30

Lightning-talks:  What do we want to automate and what's stopping us? Five minute talks from SynBio researchers ontheir automation activities, opportunities and barriers.


Florence Annan, University of Nottingham; Fiona Truscott, University College London; Yizhi Cai, Edinburgh Genome Foundry; Vishwesh Kuilkarni, University of Warwick; Guy-Bart Stan, University College London; James Johnson, Uiversity of Liverpool; Sean Ward, Synthace Ltd; Euan Forbes, Gen9

11:30 - 11.50

Group discussion

Facilitated by KTN

11:50 - 12:20

How has automation impacted other sectors?

Richard Hammond, Cambridge Consultants

12:20 - 13:00

Lunch and networking

13:00 - 13:30

What might automation and robotics look like in the future?

Prof. Ross King, University of Manchester

13:30 - 14:20

Lightening-talks: What technologies and services are available for automation of SynBio: Five minute talks from automation and robotics providers on their services and future technologies.

Jo Batley, Labman Automation Ltd; Debra Conway, Cybio ne Ltd; P Courtney, Sartorius; Devin Donnelly, Labcyte; John Gray, University of Manchester; Ross Kettleborough, Twist Bioscience; Adam A Stokes, University of Edinburgh; Mun Ching Le, Autuno

14:20 - 14.40

Group discussion

Facilitated by KTN

14:40 - 15:10

First look at the UK Strategic Plan for Synthetci Biology 2016

Prof. Lionel Clark, Co-Chair UK Synthetic Biology Leadership Council

15:10 - 15.30

Wrap-up and end

Dr Andy Boyce, KTN

15.30 - 17.00

Open ended networking and refreshments

A workshop on synthetic biology for more effective scale-up will be held at this venue on 24th February. You are welcome to attend one or both of these events depending on your interest. Please note that you will need to register for both events separately. Further details and registration can be found here.

If you are booking both events and need overnight accommodation, the nearest hotel to the venue is the Pendulum

For more information on UK synthetic biology activities, please visit the Synthetic Biology Special Interest Group Website


This Event is jointly supported by KTN, Innovate UK and Dstl

Joint logos

Do you have questions about Automation and robotics for synthetic biology? Contact The Knowledge Transfer Network

When & Where

Manchester Institute of Biotechnology
The University of Manchester
131 Princess Street
M1 7DN Manchester
United Kingdom

Thursday, 25 February 2016 from 09:30 to 16:30 (GMT)

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The Knowledge Transfer Network


The Knowledge Transfer Network is the UK’s innovation network. We bring together business, entrepreneurs, academics and funders to develop new products, processes and services.

We can help you develop ideas, expertise and technologies, that have the potential to be world-beating products. Central to what we do is the initiation and building of collaborations.

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