Open Cell launches affordable biotech hub in Shepherds Bush

Open Cell have launched their shipping container biolab hub in the Old Laundry Yard in Shepherds Bush.

Co-founders Dr Tom Meany and Helene Steiner have launched the biotech hub in U+I’s Shepherds Bush Market regeneration, where start-ups can rent space at just £4 per sq ft.

The space opened in June 2018, and is already filling up with innovative start-ups pursuing diverse actvities such as making MDF substitute from potato skins and training flies to better pollinate flowers.

It forms part of Upstream – H&F Council’s partnership with Imperial College London – which aims  to make the borough one of the leading destinations in the country for the biotech, digital and creative industries.

“We want to put H&F firmly on the biotech map as we become the next Kendall Square in the tech world,” said Cllr Andrew Jones, H&F Cabinet Member for the Economy and the Arts.

“We want to bring the borough into the 21st century and we want to ensure none of our residents are left behind but instead benefit from the jobs, investment and improvements we’re bringing to H&F.”

“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,” said Open Cell co-founder Tom.

“Open Cell is a meeting place for anyone in the sciences or design disciplines to contribute to the burgeoning biotech sector in London with Hammersmith & Fulham leading the way.”

Chip[s] Board co-founders Rowan Minkley and Rob Nicoll are developing a replacement for MDF boards using waste potato scraps for a fraction of the price.

The pioneering duo tortured their housemates, while studying at Kingston University, with the pleasant smell of rotting potatoes as they did their early research on a biomaterial which wouldn’t simply end up in a landfill like chipboard and MDF, before moving to Shepherds Bush.

They recently began working with McCain Foods to demonstrate the potential of their new technology as well as working on producing biodegradable cutlery.

Biohm is hoping to revolutionise the construction industry through developing bio-based materials, which will significantly reduce the time to build, costs and the carbon footprint of new buildings.

Founder Ehab Sayed and his team are working on a plant-based concrete alternative, plus insulation made from mushrooms and a food waste board which is natural, vegan and biodegradable.

Biohm is one of the UK’s fastest growing specialist product and material developers and consultancies.

Olombria, founded by Royal College of Art graduates Tashia Tucker, Louis Alderson-Bythell, and Greg Orrom Swan, are attempting to solve the international problem of declining bee populations.

Flies are already the main pollinators in urban environments, but the Olombria team are training them to be even better. Their technology is currently being trialed in almond orchards in California.

BYBI Beauty produces vegan, plastic-free skincare with no synthetic ingredients, which has not been tested on animals. Even the packaging is biodegradable and 100 per cent recyclable.

Founders Dominika Minarovic and Elsie Rutterford hit it off while working for the same marketing company in 2013 after realising their shared love for healthy eating.

They began experimenting in their kitchens with plant-based beauty products before securing a book deal which has since been translated into three languages.

Dominika and Elsie have now moved from their small studio in Hackney to Shepherds Bush, to continue developing truly natural beauty products.

Open Cell will bring the London Design Festival to Shepherds Bush for the first time in September.

The ‘Biodesign Here Now’ exhibition, which runs from 15-23 September, will showcase the latest biotech innovations which are changing the way we make things.

There will be talks, workshops and performances throughout the festival at the Old Laundry Yard in Shepherds Bush.