Conference Programme

Synthetic biology for a sustainable future

SynbiTECH 2020, 26-27th October, Now online

Join us online to listen to the innovators driving a synbio revolution that will transform our world for the better

The virtual conference will run from 11.00am to 19.30pm GMT with talks also available on demand following the event. 

This is not just another online webinar. Our new online platform will also feature virtual exhibitions, posters, business matchmaking and much more. 

Take a look at an exclusive preview of our new virtual platform here.

Register Now 

Day One
Networking/Refreshments 11:00 – 11:15


Professors Richard Kitney and Paul Freemont, Co-Directors, SynbiCITE

Keynote 11:15 – 12:00

Keynote: Climate Change - the Urgency for Action Now

Sir David Anthony King, Emeritus Professor in Physical Chemistry, University of Cambridge, and ex-Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Government 

Chair: Professor Richard Kitney

Sir David was the permanent Special Representative for Climate Change from September 2013 until March 2017. Sir David was previously the Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor from 2000 to 2007, during which time he raised awareness of the need for governments to act on climate change and was instrumental in creating the Energy Technologies Institute.

Panel discussions 12:00 – 12:45

Panel Discussion: Defining an international strategy for synthetic biology

Chair: Professor Richard Kitney

  • Rick JohnsonCEO, Global Helix LLC - Johnson is also Senior Partner Emeritus at Arnold & Porter LLP, Washington DC, and has been a member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Board on Life Sciences, numerous NAS National Committees, and U.S. co-chair of the Six Academies Synthetic Biology initiative.
  • Yoshi Fujishima, Senior Analyst, Japan’s government funding agency New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) - NEDO creates innovation by promoting technological development necessary for realization of a sustainable society.
  • Chueh Loo Poh, Director, AdvanceSyn - He is also an Associate Professor with the Department of Biomedical Engineering at National University of Singapore (NUS), Singapore, and a Principal Investigator at NUS Synthetic Biology for Clinical and Technological Innovation (SynCTI) and leads the NUS Biofoundry.
  • Natalie Curach, Partnerships and Business Development, Bioplatforms Australia Ltd - Natalie is currently secretariat to the Australian Governments scoping study in Synthetic Biology charged with developing the implementation plan and investment in enabling research infrastructure. She managed the Synthetic Biology Research Priority at Macquarie University through the high growth phase from foundation to a research cohort of eight laboratory leads and several million in instrumentation towards Australia’s Genome Foundry. Natalie currently serves as vice-president for the Synthetic Biology Australasia Association.
Networking/Refreshments 12:45 – 13:30


Presentations 13:30 – 14:15

Company Presentations: Therapeutics and Natural Products

Chair: Professor Imre Berger, Bristol University

  • Caroline BarelleCo-founder and CEO, Elasmogen - Elasmogen is progressing next generation biologics for inflammatory, autoimmune diseases and oncology
  • James Brown, CTO, BondiBio - Bondi is a Sydney-based solar bioengineering company focused on producing traditionally plant-derived Natural Products from light, water and carbon dioxide
  • Andy Chapman, CEO, Carbometrics - Carbometrics is using its proprietary Biomimetic Glucose Binding Molecules to develop a new glucose sensor chemistry that will enable market-leading Continuous Glucose Monitors.
  • Jordan Fletcher, Principal Scientist, Rosa Biotech - Rosa Biotech is redefining biosensing. We are enabling previously intractable challenges in early disease diagnosis and industrial biotechnology to be addressed accurately and at scale.
Panel discussions 14:15 – 15:00

Panel Discussion: Biosecurity – how do we manage risk when access to genetic engineering technologies is expanding?  

Chair: Professor Paul Freemont

  • Nick Giles, Detective Sergeant, Metropolitan Police
  • Piers Millett, Vice President of Safety and Security, iGEM Foundation - Piers is Director of Safety and Security at iGEM and co-chairs iGEM’s Safety Committee, which is tasked with ensuring that cutting edge biotechnology is used safely and securely. Until June 2014, 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.
  • Beth Vitalis, Biosecurity Specialist, Inscripta - The digital genome engineering company.
Keynote 15:00 – 15:30

Plenary: The US Bioeconomy 2020: Scope, Scale, and Security

Mary Maxon, Associate Laboratory Director for Biosciences, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Chair: Professor Richard Kitney

Mary Maxon oversees Berkeley Laboratory’s Biological Systems & Engineering, Environmental Genomics & Systems Biology, and Molecular Biophysics & Integrated Bioimaging Divisions and the DOE Joint Genome Institute. She previously held the position of Assistant Director for Biological Research at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in the Executive Office of the President, where she developed the National Bioeconomy Blueprint. Maxon is recognised as a national leader in science and technology policy.

Presentations 15:30 – 16:30

Company Presentations: BioMaterials and Enabling Technologies

Chair: Dr Liz Fletcher, University of Edinburgh

  • David Lips, Researcher, SPIBER - SPIBER is a Japanese venture company that develops sustainable new materials
  • Martin Challand, CTO and Co-Founder, Zentraxa - Zentraxa specialises in the design, production and testing of complex novel peptides with its proprietary technological platform, Zentide.
  • Jim Lalonde, Head of Microbial Business Area, Inscripta - Inscripta is developing the world’s first benchtop platform for scalable Digital Genome Engineering. 
  • Tom SpeedyField Application Manager for Synthetic Biology, Integrated DNA Technologies - IDT is the world leader in delivering custom nucleic acid products for the life sciences market in the areas of academic research, medical diagnostics, biotechnology, agriculture, and pharmaceutical development.
  • Catherine Wark, BMGLabtech.
  • Marinella Sandros, Senior Global Product Manager for reagent services, GenScript. 
Networking/Refreshments 16:30 – 17:00


Presentations 17:00 – 17:40

Quick-fire company presentations

Chair: Professor Paul Freemont

  • John Waite, CEO, Phycobloom
  • Matt Hicks, CTO and Founder, Linear Diagnostics
  • Florence Gschwend, CEO and Co-Founder, Lixea
  • Sebastian Blum, European Sales Director, m2p Labs
  • Marta Ciechonska, Salient Bioscience
Networking/Refreshments 17:40 – 18:00


Keynote 18:00 – 18:30

Fireside Chat: Kate Wighton in conversation with Fiona Fox 

Kate Wighton
Before joining Imperial Kate was deputy editor of the Daily Mail's health section, health features editor at The Sun and a health features editor at The Times. Kate studied Biochemistry at Imperial, and completed Imperial's Science Communication MSc.

Fiona Fox
Fiona Fox, the chief executive of the Science Media Centre, has a degree in journalism and many years of experience working in media relations for high profile national organisations. Her career includes stints working for, amongst others, the Equal Opportunities Committee, the National Council for One Parent Families, and CAFOD (a leading aid agency).

The founding director of the Science Media Centre when it was established in 2002, under Fiona’s leadership the Centre has become an indispensable resource for science journalists. The Centre provides scientific context and comment from some of the UK’s top scientists for many major news stories thanks to the Centre’s media database, which has over 2300 such experts on it. 

Fiona has received many accolades for her services to science, including an OBE, honorary fellowships of the Academy of Medical Science and British Pharmacology Society, and a special award for promoting openness in animal research.

Keynote 18:45 – 19:30

Keynote: Fermenting Medicines

Christina Smolke, CEO, Antheia & Professor, Stanford University

Chair: Professor Paul Freemont

Christina is a pioneer in the fields of synthetic biology and metabolic engineering, where she has over 20 years of experience.

Day Two
Panel discussions 11:00 – 11:45

Panel Discussion: Accelerating Impact in the Bioeconomy

Chair: Professor Richard Kitney

  • Orhan Ertughrul, Managing Partner, Inflectix - Inflectix Limited is an investment consultancy that specializes in technology selection and asset management. The company typically links small entrepreneurial start-ups in the pre-seed and seed stage with South Korean investors.
  • Ian Taylor, Chairman, UK Innovation and Science Seed Fund (UKI2S) - Ian Taylor, former Science Minister to the UK Government and former Chair of the Parliamentary & Scientific Committee, is now Chairman at UKI2S, an early-stage venture capital fund building and growing technology companies in the UK. 
  • George KatzarosCo-founder and Partner, Farm Street Partners - George has over 30 years’ investment experience in publicly quoted, private equity and venture capital. He is a founding shareholder and executive of the Eight Great Technologies UK Investment Holding company, formed together with ex-cabinet Minister for UK Science and Universities, the Right Honourable Lord David Willetts.
  • Melya Hughes Crameri, Partner, Ventac Partners - Melya is an entrepreneur and partner with Ventac Partners. With 20+ years’ experience in the life sciences industry in the USA and Europe, Melya has served several private companies in corporate strategy and business development.
Presentations 11:45 – 12:45

Company Presentations: Biomanufacturing, waste, and bioremediation 

Chair: Tabasum Farzaneh, Senior Industrial Officer, SynbiCITE

  • Alain Marty, Chief Scientific Officer, CARBIOS - CARBIOS is a green chemistry company in industrial development stage with a focus on discovering and developing enzymatic bioprocesses to reinvent the lifecycle of plastics.
  • Lisa Thomas, CFO, Deep Branch Biotechnology - Deep Branch is a carbon recycling biotechnology company using microbes to convert carbon dioxide from industrial emissions into high-value products
  • Rodrigo Ledesma-Amaro, Co-Founder, CorNatural - CorNatural is a synthetic biology start-up which creates microbial cell factories for the sustainable production of high-value chemicals, such as beta-carotene, a vitamin precursor, colorant and antioxidant.
  • Henrik Hagemann, CEO & Co-Founder, Puraffinity - Puraffinity specialises in the design of advanced materials, and has developed a bio-based novel adsorbent capable of removing highly challenging pollutants from contaminated water and wastewater.
  • Kirk Malone, Director of Commercialisation, C3 BIOTECH - C3 BIOTECH is engineering biology to enable sustainable fuel production. By creating fuels that ‘drop in’ to existing distribution infrastructures, C3 BIOTECH is aiming to energise a low carbon world.
Networking/Refreshments 12:45 – 13:30


Presentations 13:30 – 14:30

COVID and Beyond – testing, monitoring and vaccines

Chair: Professor Paul Freemont

  • Professor Paul Elliott, Chair in Epidemiology and Public Health Medicine, School of Public Health, Imperial College - Head of the REACT Study. This is the largest programme of home Coronavirus testing in England with swab tests carried out on a regular basis for 150,000 people chosen as a random sample.
  • Professor Graham CookeNIHR Research Professor of Infectious Diseases, Imperial College London. He is currently PI on REACT and led clincial development of a novel point of care diagnostic, COVIDnudge, now deployed in NHS hospitals. 
  • Lisa Caproni, Director of Vaccine Research, Touchlight Genetics - Touchlight is a biotechnology company focused on the development, commercialisation and licensing of doggybone or dbDNA™ based therapeutics and technologies. Touchlight’s doggybone DNA is a novel, linear, synthetic DNA vector with a unique expression profile, produced using a revolutionary enzymatic technology.
  • Michael Crone, Research Assistant, Imperial College London. Together with London Biofoundry colleagues, he developed a reagent agnostic automated diagnostic workflow for SARS-CoV-2 testing that has formed the basis of several NHS and community testing initiatives, helping to scale up testing in the UK.
  • Alison BurdettVP Clinical Engineering, DNANUDGE. Alison is an accomplished and highly personable CTO/CSO with a wealth of experience in both industry and academia.
Panel discussions 14:30 – 15:15

US Engineering Biology Research Consortium Session – Roadmap for Synthetic Biology

Chair: Professor Richard Kitney

  • Doug Friedman, Executive Director,  EBRC
  • Rick Johnson, Chairman, International Committee EBRC
  • Emily AurandDirector of Roadmapping and Education, EBRC
Panel discussions 15:15 – 15:45

Panel Discussion: Unnatural selection - What is the true potential and impact of hacking biology?

Chair: Dr Sarah Chan, University of Edinburgh

  • Joe Egender, Co-Creator and Director, Unnatural Selection - Unnatural Selection is a 2019 Netflix documentary series that presents an overview of genetic engineering and particularly, the DNA-editing technology of CRISPR, from the perspective of scientists, corporations and biohackers working from their home.
  • Leeor Kaufman, Co-Creator and Director, Unnatural Selection - Unnatural Selection is a 2019 Netflix documentary series that presents an overview of genetic engineering and particularly, the DNA-editing technology of CRISPR, from the perspective of scientists, corporations and biohackers working from their home.
Networking/Refreshments 15:45 – 16:15


Presentations 16:15 – 17:15

Company Presentations: Food and the environment - working with the natural world

Chair: Prof Anne Osbourn, Group Leader, John Innes Centre

  • Pascoe Harvey, Senior Scientist, Biotangents
  • Annabelle Cox, CEO, Tensei
  • Chris Reynolds, Co-Founder and CTO, Better Dairy
  • Niall Dunne, CEO, Polymateria
Panel discussions 17:15 – 18:00

Panel Discussion: The UK Bioeconomy – What does the industry need?

Chair: Tim Brears, CEO, Evonetix - Evonetix is a Cambridge-based company developing a radically different approach to gene synthesis.

  • James Field, CEO, LabGenius - LabGenius is a venture-backed deep tech company using machine learning to discover new protein therapeutics.
  • Vishal GulatiVenture Partner, Draper Esprit - Vishal is one of the Europe’s leading digital healthcare investors.  Vishal is a qualified physician and chairman of the Digital Health Forum.
  • Steve Bagshaw, Non-Executive Chairman, FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies
Keynote 18:00 – 18:45

Keynote - The US and UK BioEconomies 

Rob Carlson, Managing Director, Bioeconomy Capital

Chair: Professor Richard Kitney

Rob is an entrepreneur, author and scientist. He is the author of the book ‘Biology is Technology: The Promise, Peril, and New Business of Engineering Life’, and an Affiliate Professor in the Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington.

Networking/Refreshments 18:45 – 19:00

Closing remarks

Paul Freemont and Richard Kitney

Networking / Refreshments
Panel discussions