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Open Cell launches affordable biotech hub in Shepherds Bush

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Image captionImage 1: Open Cell co-founders Dr Meany (left) and Helene Steiner (right)

Shepherds Bush is the new home of biotech innovation says Open Cell co-founder, Dr Tom Meany.

Dr Meany and co-founder Helene Steiner have launched one of London’s most affordable biotech hubs at the Old Laundry Yard in Shepherds Bush Market.

At just £4 per sqft, new start-ups are rushing to get their hands on one of the 45 shipping containers which consist of labs, workshops and office space, just off Goldhawk Road.

The Open Cell space, which only opened in June, is already thriving with innovative start-ups making bespoke furniture from potato skins to training flies to better pollinate flowers in London’s newest biotech hub.

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It forms part of Upstream – H&F Council’s latest partnership with Imperial College London – 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 strive to become one of the leading innovation districts 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.”

The council aims to bring economic growth to everyone in the borough as outlined in its Industrial Strategy (pdf).

Open Cell

“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.

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Image caption: Image 2: Chip[s] Board co-founders Rowan Minkley and Rob Nicoll

“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.”

Some of the exciting start-ups at the Open Cell in Shepherds Bush include:

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.


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Image caption: Image 3: Biohm founder Ehab Sayed

Biohm is revolutionising the construction industry as they develop 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, as concrete is one of the most damaging materials used in the construction industry, 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.


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 adept pollinators, being the main pollinators in urban environments, but the Olombria team are training flies to be even better pollinators.

Their technology is currently being trialed in almond orchards in California.

BYBI Beauty

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.

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Image caption: Image 4: BYBI Beauty co-founders Dominika Minarovic and Elsie Rutterford

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.

London Design Festival

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.

For more details visit Open Cell on Twitter


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