About us

The Flowers consortium is a bringing together of 5 British universities (Imperial College, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Kings and Newcastle), who are amongst the international leaders in synthetic biology and already have very significant research programmes in synthetic biology.

Consortium Partners

Imperial College London

Synthetic Immune System: an artwork for the EPSRC Impact! Exhibition. © 2009 Tuur Van Balen collaborating with CSynBI members Paul Freemont, Richard Kitney and James Chappell.

Synthetic Immune System: an artwork for the EPSRC Impact! Exhibition. © 2009 Tuur Van Balen collaborating with CSynBI members Paul Freemont, Richard Kitney and James Chappell. 

The Centre for Synthetic Biology and Innovation (CSynBI)  at Imperial College is developing the foundational tools for synthetic biology and using these to generate innovative biological applications for cutting-edge research, healthcare and industry. Along with our research and development of synthetic biology we also integrate our science with emerging ethical, legal and societal issues to responsibly mature this powerful new technology.The research laboratories of CSynBI opened in April 2010 and have already produced many exciting publications in synthetic biology. CSynBI is comprised of scientific researchers at Imperial College London and societal and ethical researchers from BIOS at King’s College London. CSynBI is part of Imperial’s Institute of Systems and Synthetic Biology.


The scientific research goals of CSynBI are to establish an engineering framework for the design and optimisation of new synthetic biology parts, devices and systems, and in tandem apply synthetic biology to develop a wide range of novel biotechnologies. In parallel, BIOS researchers will explore the social, political, economic and ethical dimensions of synthetic biology.

Researchers at CSynBI play a large role in teaching synthetic biology at Imperial College through undergraduate and postgraduate courses and we have a proud tradition of competing at the highest level in the annual iGEM synthetic biology competition. CSynBI researchers are regularly involved in scientific outreach with collaborations with designers and artists and public events like our annual November research symposium.




University of Cambridge

Please visit the following sites:


University of Edinburgh

SynthSys (formerly CSBE) is the Centre for Synthetic and Systems Biology at Edinburgh University. Originally established as a Centre for Integrative Systems Biology (CISB) funded by the BBSRC and the EPSRC in 2007. Our experimental and theoretical researchers are co-located in the new CH Waddington building situated on the Kings Buildings science campus.

SynthSys represents an interdisciplinary research environment with members across many Research Institutes, Colleges and Schools, including The University of Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt University and BioSS. The Centre is currently expanding its membership and now includes additional researchers leading grants in related areas.

SynthSys Vision

To extend our understanding of genetic and chemical regulation in biological systems and to use this understanding to solve the challenges facing industrial biotechnology, clinical medicine, and agriculture.

The new Centre brings together the expertise required to develop leading-edge, interdisciplinary research with the management needed to translate this research into commercial applications.

SynthSys Mission

Our mission is to deliver world-leading research in Systems and Synthetic Biology; combining theory and informatics with molecular biology to understand and re-design biochemical systems.
Our focus is to pioneer genetic and chemical tools to manipulate the cell, technologies to quantify responses at the single-cell level, and mathematical models to both predict and control cellular behaviour.

SynthSys Aims

  • Generate greater understanding across scales of biological organisation
  • Develop foundational technologies to be used in academic and commercial Synthetic Biology application
  • Create biology-oriented modelling and design tools
  • Advance quantification in the cellular context
  • Design and deliver open innovation activities to the knowledge sector
  • Increase intellectual capital
  • Forge greater links with Industry, gaining greater understanding of their needs


Newcastle University

Centre for Synthetic Biology and Bioexploitation (CSBB)

The CSBB is based on world-class expertise across all Newcastle University’s faculties – Medical Sciences, Science, Agriculture and Engineering and Humanities Arts and Social Sciences. The centre has world-leading expertise in:

  • core synthetic biology disciplines (computing science, bioinformatics, Bio CAD/CAM, engineering, responsible innovation (ELSI, ELSA, etc.) and cell biology)
  • computational and model-based design of synthetic systems
  • development of synthetic bacterial systems

The CSBB draws on expertise from existing centers of excellence at Newcastle University:

  • The Centre for Bacterial Cell Biology (CBCB)
  • The Biopharmaceutical and Bioprocessing Centre (BBTC)
  • Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability (NIReS)
  • The Policy Ethics and Life Science Research Centre (PEALS)
  • The Centre for Integrated Systems Biology of Ageing and Nutrition (CISBAN)
  • The Digital Institute (Di)

Newcastle University is one of five UK universities in the Flowers Consortium that is developing a UK infrastructure for Synthetic Biology (funded by the EPSRC). Our centre also leads the UK networks on synthetic biology, SynBioNT and is heavily involved in standards development through the SynBioStandards network. These two UK-funded networks collect hundreds of national and international collaborators and constitute an invaluable pool of expertise.

The potential applications of synthetic biology are huge, varied and well recognised. The CSBB also brings together leading academic experts in key areas for the commercial exploitation of synthetic biology. These areas include biofuels, bioremediation, biosensors and chemical process engineering.
The CSBB aims to build on our fundamental research into synthetic biology tools, methodologies and approaches by establishing a large network of industrial partners from North East England, the UK and internationally.



King’s College London

The  Department of Social Science Health and Medicine (SSHM) at King’s College London is a partner in Centre for Synthetic Biology and Innovation (CSynBI).

Interaction between synthetic biologists and SSHM social scientists within the Flowers Consortium provides a novel foundation for a programme of research, training and dissemination that aims to enhance capabilities to understand the ways that developments in synthetic biology impact and shape the world around us. Through a combination of high quality social science research and engagement with policy, SSHM researchers seek to influence the trajectory of this emerging field of science and technology and contribute to the development of an effective framework for responsible research and innovation. The consortium defines RRI as the incorporation of ethical, societal and environmental considerations into synthetic biology design.

For more information on SSHM’s work on synthetic biology, see: