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Chair of KTN to be part of judging panel in the Bio-start competition

By Caroline Channing

SynbiCITE and Rainbow Seed Fund have announced that Dr David Lawrence, Non-executive Director at Syngenta, Chairman of the Science and Technology Advisory Board, and Chairman of the Knowledge Transfer Network Board, will be part of the finals' judging panel in the Bio-start competition.

Bio-start is a new annual competition created to bolster innovative early-stage companies and people with great ideas in healthcare, clean tech, industrial biotech or any sector that makes use of synthetic biology. Bio-start’s not-for-profit competition offers the winner a combination of £100k cash plus laboratory space, a ten-week accelerator programme with mentorship, consumables and professional services valued at ~£100k.

As part of the finals' judging panel, David brings invaluable agri-tech and biotech experience. He will cast a critical eye over the teams and innovations in this promising sector and is extremely well placed to recognise those winning ideas. David currently serves as a Non-executive Director at Syngenta and Chairman of the Science and Technology Advisory Board. He was Head of Research & Development at Syngenta from 2002 to 2008, and also served as Head International R&D Projects for Zeneca Agrochemicals, having previously held several senior scientific roles. In addition, David is Chair of the UK Knowledge Transfer Network, a member of the UK Industrial Biotechnology Leadership Team, the UK Agri-Tech Strategy Leadership Council, and the Nuffield Council on Bioethics. David graduated in Chemistry from Oxford University with an MA and DPhil in Chemical Pharmacology.

“It is a pleasure to participate as a finalist judge. I fully support Bio-start’s goal of helping early-stage synthetic biology innovators move ground-breaking ideas closer to the market,” commented Dr Lawrence.

Oliver Sexton, Investment Director at Rainbow Seed Fund, added:  “Dr Lawrence’s experience speaks for itself. He brings a great deal of technical and commercial rigour to our judging panel and as a board member and Head of R&D at one of the world’s largest biotechnology companies he has an enviable track record developing cutting edge technology to tackle global agricultural challenges. Bio-start is extremely excited to welcome him to our finals' judging panel.”

Co-founder Dr Stephen Chambers, CEO of SynbiCITE, said: “This is a first in the UK for synthetic biology and our aim is to help as many companies and entrepreneurs as we can. Once applications have been assessed up to 25 companies will go through our 10-week boot-camp and mentoring programme. Up to ten of these companies will go through to the final awards evening where they’ll have a chance to pitch their ideas to Dr Lawrence and an expert panel in front of an audience of investors and industry leaders.”

Competition participants are encouraged to register on the Bio-start website by 14 October 2016. Application areas can be in healthcare, clean tech, industrial biotech or any sector that makes use of synthetic biology. Selection of the winning entry will take place at the final award ceremony Spring 2017. Full competition details can be found at

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