London, UK, 6th June 2018 / Sciad Newswire /  Open Cell has joined forces with regeneration specialist, U+I, and the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham and SynbiCITE to launch a biolab to offer affordable spaces at the Old Laundry Yard in Shepherd’s Bush Market. A first for London, phase one will provide 20 low cost, start-up studios in shipping containers, in which innovators and entrepreneurs can build, test and demonstrate biotech focused innovations. 

Co-founder Helene Steiner conceived the idea for Open Cell while working in Microsoft Research and also moonlighting as a lecturer in the Royal College of Art. She was teaching biodesign alongside Dr. Thomas Meany who was working in the Biotechnology Dept. of Cambridge University. They saw talented students with incredible ideas but nowhere to develop them. Steiner explains, “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. Open Cell is a meeting place for anyone in the sciences or design disciplines to contribute to the burgeoning biotech sector in London. We are delighted U+I embraces our vision and is providing space for our first hub.”

Project funders and advisors Professors Paul Freemont and Richard Kitney, Co-directors of SynbiCITE, Imperial College London, added: “We are seeing new companies popping up in unlikely places, outside the traditional University environment. By supporting Open Cell, we hope that early stage innovators can propel their ideas to prototypes faster than ever before. We are particularly excited about the opportunities for collaboration between designers, artists and biotechnologists that will make Open Cell and the UK the leading place for innovation in bio-based applications.”

Professor Sharon Baurley, Professor of Design & Materials at the Royal College of Art, supports the importance of the initiative: “The Open Cell initiative is part of an emergent culture of local and networked innovation, design and production entities that support enterprising creatives, who in turn support cities and regions to be environmentally sustainable and self-sufficient. This is very much aligned with The Burberry Material Futures Research Group at the RCA.” 

Richard Upton, Deputy CEO U+I, expands: “For the past 18 months we have been working closely with the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham and the market traders at Shepherd’s Bush to modernise this fine London Market whilst retaining its treasured history and sense of identity. Careful listening to the community reveals a real appetite for positive change and we have made some subtle interventions that have started to increase footfall and diversity again. 

“Our partnership with London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham at the Old Laundry Yard has encouraged us to take a more audacious step – providing a vibrant new destination attracting great local businesses which complements Shepherd’s Bush Market. Conscious of the need to grow the local economy and to provide opportunity for all, we are delighted to partner with some of the most exciting people in the Biotech world to create Open Cell at the Old Laundry Yard, a short walk from the Royal College of Art and Imperial College. This collaboration in a London street market promises to be very special.”

Zowie Broach, Head of Fashion at the Royal College of Art and Open Cell Advisor, explains: “Shepherd’s Bush has always been a key location for textiles and materials across the history of fashion design in London. Open Cell will be a space where the innovative and the traditional can work side by side adding a new layer, in new times, in new ways.”

Old Laundry Yard launched earlier this year and is home to a number of food and drink businesses.

Charles Parish and Co advised U+I.

For more information regarding what’s coming up at Old Laundry Yard please visit

Old Laundry Yard, Uxbridge Rd, White City, London W12 8LH
@oldlaundryyard @myshepherdsbushmarket

Open Cell
twitter: @opencelllondon


For further information, contact:

Media Contacts
Sarah Street  
Cecily Walker
020 3701 7510 

PR Contacts
Emma Pickup / Juliette Craggs
E: /
T: +44(0) 20 7470 8801

Notes to Editors 

Old Laundry Yard is tucked in beside the very lively Shepherd’s Bush market located between Goldhawk Road and Shepherd’s Bush Market underground stations. Comprising of 72 shipping containers, the market will provide affordable workspace for local businesses and entrepreneurs alongside a selection of diverse local street food.  

U + I is a specialist regeneration and property developer. With a £7bn portfolio of complex, mixed-use, community-focussed regeneration projects including a £200m investment portfolio, we are unlocking urban sites bristling with potential in the London, Manchester and Dublin city regions. We create huge, long-lasting social and economic change for the communities in which we build, and sustainable value for our shareholders. To find out more, visit

Helene Steiner is a designer and engineer who works at the interface between technology and science. She co-founded Open Cell with the mission to provide affordable lab space to early-stage startups innovating at the intersection of design and biology. She is the co-founder of a biotech company, Cell-Free Technology, where she develops computational and biological design tools for proteins and materials. She was previously a postdoc research fellow in Microsoft Research at Cambridge where she developed biological interfaces. She has been hosted as a visiting research fellow in the Tangible Research group of the MIT Media Lab. She holds an MA from the Royal College of Art and an MSc from Imperial College London. She has been awarded a Frontier of Science, Kavli Fellowship by the National Academy of Sciences. 

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