2023 Speakers

SynbiTECH 2024 - 3-4 December 2024 – IET London

SynbiTECH 2023 brought together the most informed and passionate pioneers applying their ideas on synthetic biology.

Experts from around the world discussed the opportunities created by combining biology, engineering and technology as well as cutting-edge solutions that are changing the industry. 

Our carefully curated speaker line-up included experts from academia, industry, policy, and investment with the shared goal of championing synthetic biology, engineering biology, biotechnology, and the diverse range of disciplines contributed to a future synbio industry capable of solving world challenges.

Our speakers discussed a huge range of important topics including sustainability, biomaterials, transport, energy, food, DNA storage, biosecurity, investment and much, much more.

Stay tuned for SynbiTECH 2024!

Highlight speakers

Mary Maxon Dr Mary Maxon
Schmidt Futures
Mary Maxon

Dr Mary Maxon

Executive Director of Biofutures, Schmidt Futures

Mary E. Maxon, PhD is the Executive Director of BioFutures, an effort focused on maximizing the potential of biotechnology toward a circular bioeconomy.

Previously she was Associate Laboratory Director for Biosciences at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and before that she was Assistant Director for Biological Research at the Office of Science and Technology Policy where she was the principal author of the Obama’s Administration’s National Bioeconomy Blueprint. Currently, Mary serves as a US State Department-appointed Delegate to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Biotechnology, Nanotechnology, and Converging Technologies Working Party. She is also a member of the Global Bioeconomy International Advisory Council, a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Standing Committee on Biotechnology Capabilities and National Security Needs, and a member of the Carnegie Institution for Science Board of Trustees.

She was the program lead for the Marine Microbiology Initiative at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the first Executive Director of the Science Philanthropy Alliance, and also has extensive experience in industry in a number of biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies.

Mary holds a PhD in Molecular Cell Biology from the University of California at Berkeley, and did postdoctoral training in genetics at the University of California, San Francisco.

chi-onwurah Chi Onwurah
Shadow Minister (Science, Research and Innovation)

Chi Onwurah

Shadow Minister (Science, Research and Innovation)

Chi Onwurah is a British Member of Parliament representing Newcastle upon Tyne Central and is also Shadow Minister Science, Research & Innovation.

Former Shadow Ministerial positions:

April 2020-December 2021 Digital, Science & Technology

October 2016 – April 2020 Industrial Strategy Science & Innovation (and Shadow Digital Minister Feb-April 2020)

September 2015-October 2016 Culture and the Digital Economy

January 2013 - Sept 2015 Cabinet Office leading on cyber security, social entrepreneurship, civil contingency, open government and transparency

October 2010 – January 2013 for Innovation, Science & Digital Infrastructure working closely with the Science and business community, with industry on Broadband issues, and on the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill. Chi continues to encourage women in STEM.

Prior to Chi’s election to Parliament in May 2010 she worked as Head of Telecom's Technology at the UK regulator Ofcom focussing on the implications for competition and regulation of the services and technologies associated with Next Generation Networks.

Prior to Ofcom, Chi was a Partner in Hammatan Ventures, a US technology consultancy, developing the GSM markets in Nigeria and South Africa. Previously she was Director of Market Development with Teligent, a Global Wireless Local Loop operator and Director of Product Strategy at GTS.  She has also worked for Cable & Wireless and Nortel as Engineer, Project and Product Manager in the UK and France, 

Chi is a Chartered Engineer with a BEng in Electrical Engineering from Imperial College London and an MBA from Manchester Business School. She was born in Wallsend and attended Kenton Comprehensive School in Newcastle, where she was elected the school’s ‘MP’ in mock elections aged 17.

Chi is a Fellow of both the Institution of Engineering & Technology (FIET) and the City & Guilds of London Institute (FCGI) and also an Honorary Fellow of the British Science Association.

Angela McLean Professor Dame Angela McLean
Government Chief Scientific Adviser
Angela McLean

Professor Dame Angela McLean

Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Government Chief Scientific Adviser

Professor Dame Angela McLean DBE FRS is the Government Chief Scientific Adviser having taken up the role in April 2023. She is also Head of the Government Science and Engineering Profession. Prior to this Angela was the Chief Scientific Adviser for the Ministry of Defence.

Until April 2023, Angela McLean was a Professor of Mathematical Biology in the Department of Zoology at Oxford University and a Fellow of All Souls College. Angela’s research interests lie in the use of mathematical models to aid our understanding of the evolution and spread of infectious agents.

Angela is interested in the use of natural science evidence in formulating public policy and has co-developed the Oxford Martin School Restatements: an activity which restructures and presents the evidence underlying an issue of policy concern or controversy in a short, uncharged, intelligible form for non-technical audiences.

Angela established Mathematical Biology at the Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council’s Institute for Animal Health in 1994. Before this, Angela was a Royal Society Research Fellow at Oxford University and a Research Fellow at the Institut Pasteur in Paris.

In 2009 Angela was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society. She has been awarded the Gabor Medal in 2011 and the Weldon Memorial Prize in 2018. She received her damehood in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Regina Birner Professor Regina Birner
Social and Institutional Change in Agricultural Development at the Hans-Ruthenberg-Institute
Regina Birner

Professor Regina Birner

Chair, Social and Institutional Change in Agricultural Development at the Hans-Ruthenberg-Institute

Regina Birner is the Chair of Social and Institutional Change in Agricultural Development at the Hans-Ruthenberg-Institute of Tropical Agricultural Sciences at the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart, Germany.  Her research focuses on policies, governance and institutions that are essential for global food security and the bioeconomy. Before joining the University, Regina Birner led the governance research program of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Washington, DC. She has more than 25 years of empirical research experience in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Her work appeared in international journals such as World Development, Global Food Security, Information Technology for Development and the Journal of Cleaner Production. She has been consulting with international organizations, including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Bank. She is a member of the Bioeconomy Council of the German Federal Government, the International Advisory Council on Global Bioeconomy (IACGB) and the International Consortium on Applied Bioeconomy Research (ICABR). Regina Birner holds a PhD in Socio-Economics of Agricultural Development from the University of Göttingen, Germany, and an M.Sc. in Agricultural Sciences from the Technical University of Munich (TUM).


Paul Freemont Paul Freemont
Paul Freemont

Paul Freemont

Co-Director, SynbiCITE

Paul has been working at the forefront of international synthetic biology developments since 2002 and has played a key role with Dick Kitney in developing from the outset the UK strategy for synthetic biology research, innovation and training.

A leading figure in synthetic biology, he has played a key part in the development of synthetic biology in the UK and was a co-author of the British Government’s UK Synthetic Biology Roadmap. Paul has been a passionate advocate for synthetic biology research and translation both in Europe and internationally and has participated as a technical expert in the United Nations Convention for Biological Diversity and Biological Weapons Convention. He is also a working group member of the US NIST synthetic biology standards consortium.

Paul’s research interests span from understanding the molecular mechanisms of human diseases and infection to the development of synthetic biology platform technologies and biosensors and he is the author of over 170 peer-reviewed scientific publications. He gives many lectures both at international scientific meetings and also public lecture - the most recent being the Ellison-Cliffe medal lecture at the Royal Society of Medicine.

With Dick Kitney, Paul co-founded and co-directs the UK’s first academic research centre for synthetic biology at Imperial College London (CSynBI) and the first R&D centre for synthetic biology SynbiCITE.

Paul is also very active in public engagement including numerous public debates - the most recent at the Royal Institution and public displays including at the Science Museum and the first ‘pop-up’ lab at the Victoria and Albert museum. He is also an advocate for training young people and talks regularly at schools and and has successfully co-supervised Imperial undergraduate iGEM teams since 2006.

Profile image of Professor Richard Kitney Richard Kitney
Profile image of Professor Richard Kitney

Richard Kitney

Co-Director, SynbiCITE

Professor Kitney has been working at the forefront of synthetic biology and has been pivotal in shaping its development in the UK and internationally since 2003.

He has championed synthetic biology to governments, industry, learned societies and the public. Kitney is globally recognised as pioneering in the field. Dick has been a leader of UK R&D and the translation of synthetic biology for more than a decade, promoting global synthetic biology developments.

As Chair of The Royal Academy of Engineering’s Inquiry into Synthetic Biology and a member of the UK’s Ministerial Synthetic Biology Leadership Council, Dick has driven the UK’s approach to the field and the technology, its development and its translation into industrially useful products, tools, processes and services - alongside educating future synthetic biologists. In addition to The Royal Academy of Engineering Inquiry Report (Synthetic biology – Scope, Applications and Implications, 2009), he is one of the authors of the two, subsequent, UK roadmaps for synthetic biology (A Synthetic Biology Roadmap for the UK, 2012; and Bio Design for the Bio Economy, 2016).

Dick Co-Directs the UK’s first R&D centre for Synthetic Biology and Innovation (CSynBI) and the UK’s National Industrial Translation Centre for Synthetic Biology (SynbiCITE).

He gives many keynote presentations at public lectures and international conferences – recently the IET Kelvin Lecture and the City and Guilds Fellowship Lecture.

Piers Millett photo Piers D. Millett
International Biosecurity and Biosafety Initiative for Science (IBBIS)
Piers Millett photo

Piers D. Millett

Executive Director, International Biosecurity and Biosafety Initiative for Science (IBBIS)

Piers D. Millett, Ph.D. is Executive Director of the International Biosecurity and Biosafety Initiative for Science (IBBIS). Dr. Millett is a certified biorisk management professional, with a specialization in biosecurity.

Dr. Millett was Deputy Head of the Implementation Support Unit for the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), a treaty for which he worked for over a decade. He has consulted for the World Health Organization, supporting its integration of research and development into responses to public health emergencies and considering the health implications of advances in technology. As Vice President for Responsibility for iGEM Foundation (International Genetically Engineered Machines Competition), Dr. Millett established and ran a program strengthening the culture of responsibility and risk management with more than 350 projects each year, involving more than 6,000 young scientists and engineers from 45 countries across every inhabited continent.

Trained originally as a microbiologist, Dr. Millett has worked closely with the citizen science movement, synthetic biologists, the biotechnology industry as well as national and international policymakers and decisionmakers. He has collaborated with a range of intergovernmental organizations spanning human and animal health, humanitarian law, disarmament, security, border control, law enforcement, and weapons of mass destruction— both inside and out of the United Nations system.

He holds a Ph.D. in International Relations and Affairs, an MRes in Research Methodology, and an MA in International Politics and Security Studies—all from the University of Bradford. He has a BSc in Microbiology from the University of Leeds.