We strive to lower the barrier to entry for biotech.

45 shipping containers in Shepherd’s Bush London, with offices, workshops and biology labs for early stage startups and designers. We don't believe in long winded business plans. We want residents to build things people want.

By hosting expensive infrastructure  we are able to offer a low cost environment for biotech prototyping. Our community of like minded innovators can help you prototype inventions faster.

The Trend

SynbiCITE report that > 50% of emerging biotech startups come from outside university tech-transfer channels. Much of the growth is in London with networks, infrastructure and a deep talent pool. These businesses have to choose between empty labs, costing tens of thousands to equip, or expensive university facilities. Open Cell exists to fill to that gap.

Our Story

Co-founders Helene and Tom met while working in biotech labs despite neither having a background in biology. Helene was a designer working on biology in Microsoft Research and Tom was a physicist working on synthetic biology in the University of Cambridge. After collaborating on a number of projects at the intersection of design and science they founded a biotech startup but could not find affordable lab space.

They spent a year searching for spaces, writing proposals, receiving rejections and having negotiations. Finally the team convinced U+i group, a property developer specialising in regeneration, SynbiCITE the UK’s synthetic biology industry and engineering biology industrial accelerator, and the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham Council, to support the initiative.

Our Family

Open Cell’s vision of creating low-cost labspace with a user-centric focus is only possible thanks to our most passionate supporter: Biotop, an Austrian science collective. The group's obsession is modular lab design. Shipping containers are the ideal starting point since they are readily available, easily moved and have a long history of multifunctional use. They provide a flexible testbed where innovative lab designs can be rapidly installed and tested.
Co-Founder & Director

Helene Steiner

Head of Fashion, RCA

Zowie Broach

Co-Founder & Director

Dr. Thomas Meany

Head of Structural Biology, Imerial College

Prof. Paul Freemont

Clients & Collaborators

Latest News

December 13, 2019

New Liquid Handling Equipment in Open Cell's Shared Lab

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December 12, 2019

Final Call for Open Cell’s Open Residency Program

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