Join us online to listen to the innovators driving a synbio revolution

SynbiTECH 2020, 26-27th October, Now online

SynbiTECH Virtual 2020 will bring together the most informed and passionate pioneers applying their ideas on synthetic biology.

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

View the programme for more confirmed speakers! 

Headline speakers

Sir David King Professor Sir David King
Centre for Climate Repair at Cambridge
Keynote Sir David King

Professor Sir David King

Founder, Centre for Climate Repair at Cambridge

Professor Sir David King is Founder and Chair of the Centre for Climate Repair at Cambridge; Emeritus Professor of Chemistry, University of Cambridge; an Affiliate Partner of SYSTEMIQ Limited; and Senior Strategy Adviser to the President of Rwanda. He served as Founding Director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at Oxford University, 2008 -2012, Head of the Department of Chemistry at Cambridge University, 1993-2000, and Master of Downing College Cambridge 1995-2000.

He was the UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser, 2000-2007, the Foreign Secretary’s Special Representative on Climate Change, 2013-2017, and Chair of Future Cities Catapult, 2012-2016. He has travelled widely to persuade all countries to take action on climate change. He initiated an in-depth risk analysis approach to climate change, working with the Governments of China and India in particular, and initiated a collaborative programme, now known as Mission Innovation, to create a £23bn pa research and development international exercise, which involves 22 countries and the EC, to deliver all technologies needed to complete the transition into a fossil-fuel-free world economy.

He was born in Durban, educated at St John’s College Johannesburg and at Witwatersrand University, graduating in Chemistry and a PhD in physical chemistry. He has received 23 Honorary Degrees from universities around the world.

As Govt Chief Scientific Adviser he raised the need for governments to act on climate change and was instrumental in creating the British £1 billion Energy Technologies Institute. He created an in-depth futures process which advised government on a wide range of long term issues, from flooding to obesity. He was Member, the President’s Advisory Council, Rwanda, and Science Advisor to UBS, 2008-12.

He has published over 500 papers on surface science and catalysis and on science and policy, for which he has received many awards, medals etc. and 23 honorary degrees from universities around the world.

Elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1991; Foreign Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2002; knighted in 2003; made “Officier dans l’ordre national de la Légion d’Honneur” in 2009.


Rich Johnson Rick Johnson
Global Helix LLC
Rich Johnson

Rick Johnson

CEO and Founder, Global Helix LLC

Rick Johnson is the CEO and founder of Global Helix LLC, an STI strategy and thought leadership firm, and Senior Partner Emeritus at Arnold & Porter LLP, Washington DC.  

Johnson 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. His current interests include: (i) synthetic biology/engineering biology; (ii) bioeconomy strategies; (iii) emerging technologies and the Next Production Revolution; (iv) university-business-industry innovation; and (v) compute-SemiSynBio.

Rick is the Chair of the OECD/BIAC Technology & Innovation Committee, the Brown Biology & Medicine Council, and the Engineering Biology Research Consortium (EBRC) Policy and International group. Johnson now serves as a Board Director of: (i) the EBRC; (ii) the iGEM Foundation; and (iii) the Stanford Biofab and BioBricks Foundation. For many years, Rick served on the MIT Corporation Committee, U.S. national commissions and task forces, and the NAS Synthetic Biology Forum. He now is helping to create the Global Alliance of Biofoundries.  

In addition to receiving his Juris Doctor degree from the Yale Law School where he was Editor of the Yale Law Journal, he received his graduate degree from MIT where he was a National Science Foundation National Fellow, and his undergraduate degree with highest honours from Brown University 

Paul Freemont Professor Paul Freemont
Paul Freemont

Professor 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 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.

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 has successfully co-supervised Imperial undergraduate iGEM teams since 2006.

Richard Kitney Professor Richard Kitney
Richard Kitney

Professor 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 Piers Millett
iGEM Foundation
Piers Millett

Piers Millett

Vice President of Safety and Security, iGEM Foundation

Piers D Millett, Ph.D. leads iGEM’s efforts to ensure that cutting edge biotechnology is used safely and securely. He is Vice-President for Safety and Security and chairs iGEM’s Safety and Security Committee. Dr. Millett is a certified biorisk management professional, with a specialisation 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 consults for the World Health Organization, supporting their integration of research and development into responses to public health emergencies and considering the health implications of advances in technology. Trained originally as a microbiologist, Piers works closely with the citizen science movement, synthetic biologists, the biotechnology industry as well as governments. His efforts have seen him collaborate with a range of intergovernmental organisations spanning health (human and animal), humanitarian law, disarmament, security, border control, law enforcement, and weapons of mass destruction – both inside and out of the United Nations system. 

Piers holds a wide range of other appointments relevant to his work at iGEM, including as co-founder of Biosecure Ltd, a company dedicated to safeguarding the bioeconomy. He also holds fellowships with the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford, and the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington D.C., where he researches pandemic and deliberate disease and the implications of biotechnology. 

Ian Taylor Ian Taylor
UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund
Ian Taylor

Ian Taylor

Chairman, UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund

Ian is a Strategic Advisor to Inmarsat plc, the world leader in global mobile satellite communications, on preliminary UK efforts to create an alternative to the Galileo Satellite Navigation System as well as on preparations for SkyNet6. He also provides (long- distance) advice to the National Space Innovation Hub in Adelaide, Australia.

Ian chairs the UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund, backed by government research councils. He is a founder-director of Living PlanIT which has developed a software platform for real-time data analysis and integration to enhance health and environmental outcomes in urban areas. Ian is Strategic Advisor to Nova Pangaea Limited, developer of a process for conversion of non-food biomass into environmentally friendly liquid fuels. He is an advisor to several other tech companies.

Ian Taylor was a UK Member of Parliament for 23 years until 2010 and Science, Innovation & Space Minister 1994-97. He chaired the Parliamentary & Scientific Committee, the Parliamentary Space Committee and in 2009 the European Inter- Parliamentary Space Group. In 2008, Ian gained the Sir Arthur C. Clarke Award for Individual Achievement in Promoting Space and Science.

He was Chairman of the Conservative Policy Task Force on Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics 2005-2009.

After leaving Parliament, Ian became an advisor to the ESA Integrated Applications Programme and was one of the former ESA DG’s independent group of 5 former Ministers from ESA Member States reporting on the Future of Space Activities in Europe (2011- 2015). From 2011-2018 he was on the Science & Technology Facilities Research Council; he also chaired the National Space Academy 2013-2018.