Open Cell Launches Shipping Container Labs at Shepherd's Bush Market to Accelerate Biotech Start-up Businesses
Product News Jun 13, 2018
The Old Laundry Yard
Open Cell has joined forces with regeneration specialist, U+I, and the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham and SynbiCITE to launch a biolab to offer affordable spaces at the Old Laundry Yard in Shepherd’s Bush Market. A first for London, phase one will provide 20 low cost, start-up studios in shipping containers, in which innovators and entrepreneurs can build, test and demonstrate biotech focused innovations.
Co-founder Helene Steiner conceived the idea for Open Cell while working in Microsoft Research and also moonlighting as a lecturer in the Royal College of Art. She was teaching biodesign alongside Dr. Thomas Meany who was working in the Biotechnology Dept. of Cambridge University. They saw talented students with incredible ideas but nowhere to develop them. Steiner explains, “There is little or no infrastructure available to help talented scientists, designers and early-stage biotech businesses to take their concepts to the next stage. Open Cell is a meeting place for anyone in the sciences or design disciplines to contribute to the burgeoning biotech sector in London. We are delighted U+I embraces our vision and is providing space for our first hub."
Project funders and advisors Professors Paul Freemont and Richard Kitney, Co-directors of SynbiCITE, Imperial College London, added: "We are seeing new companies popping up in unlikely places, outside the traditional University environment. By supporting Open Cell, we hope that early stage innovators can propel their ideas to prototypes faster than ever before. We are particularly excited about the opportunities for collaboration between designers, artists and biotechnologists that will make Open Cell and the UK the leading place for innovation in bio-based applications."
Professor Sharon Baurley, Professor of Design & Materials at the Royal College of Art, supports the importance of the initiative: "The Open Cell initiative is part of an emergent culture of local and networked innovation, design and production entities that support enterprising creatives, who in turn support cities and regions to be environmentally sustainable and self-sufficient. This is very much aligned with The Burberry Material Futures Research Group at the RCA."
Richard Upton, Deputy CEO U+I, expands: “For the past 18 months we have been working closely with the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham and the market traders at Shepherd’s Bush to modernise this fine London Market whilst retaining its treasured history and sense of identity. Careful listening to the community reveals a real appetite for positive change and we have made some subtle interventions that have started to increase footfall and diversity again.
"Our partnership with London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham at the Old Laundry Yard has encouraged us to take a more audacious step – providing a vibrant new destination attracting great local businesses which complements Shepherd’s Bush Market. Conscious of the need to grow the local economy and to provide opportunity for all, we are delighted to partner with some of the most exciting people in the Biotech world to create Open Cell at the Old Laundry Yard, a short walk from the Royal College of Art and Imperial College. This collaboration in a London street market promises to be very special.”
Zowie Broach, Head of Fashion at the Royal College of Art and Open Cell Advisor, explains: “Shepherd’s Bush has always been a key location for textiles and materials across the history of fashion design in London. Open Cell will be a space where the innovative and the traditional can work side by side adding a new layer, in new times, in new ways.”