About the European Synthetic Cell initiative (SynCellEU)

About us

All over Europe and the world, researchers are tackling one of the most exciting scientific challenges of our time: building synthetic cells from scratch - cell-like structures that possess some of the functionality of living cells.

By trying to reproduce cellular mechanisms, scientists are seeking to understand how cells work and, more broadly, to answer the question of what life is. In addition to these fundamental goals, synthetic cell research is key to developing greener, nature-inspired technologies that can contribute to a healthier, greener future.

cDICE setup. Image from the Dogterom Lab

But cells are so complex that this challenge cannot be met alone. Synthetic cell research is an interdisciplinary field that requires the knowledge of many experts: biologists, chemists, mathematicians, and physicists, to name a few. That's why we decided to join forces and create the European Synthetic Cell Initiative (SynCellEU).

We are a network of excellent European research laboratories, institutions, and companies; coordinated by Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the Netherlands; that have joined forces to collaborate on synthetic cell research and accelerate its translation into technology.

Technological developments in the field of bottom-up synthetic biology will accelerate dramatically worldwide over the next 5-10 years. To rapidly translate synthetic cell research into innovation in Europe, we are working to build an ecosystem for the development of SynCell technologies. This requires a pan-European effort and therefore investment and involvement of the European Commission are key to success.

What we do

We focus our activities on three main areas:

  • fostering collaboration among scientists on synthetic cell research;
  • stimulating cooperation between scientists and industry for the development of new technologies resulting from this research;
  • facilitating ethical and Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) discussions that will lead to an ethical, societal and legal framework for developing synthetic cell technologies.

Ultimately we aim to develop a European Research and Innovation Ecosystem in Bottom-up Synthetic Biology.

Hiromune Eto in the lab with 3D printers

Our partners

The European Synthetic Cell Initiative is a formal partnership between research institutions from the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Spain. 

Our contributing partners, who have committed to funding the initiative's coordinating office and its activities

  • Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the Netherlands, which coordinates the initiative;
  • the Max Planck Society (MPG) in Germany;
  • the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA);
  • the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

 Our associate partners

  • The University of Oxford in the UK


Steering Committee


Cees Dekker

Delft University of Technology

Germán Rivas

Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

Laurent Blanchoin

Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives (CEA)

Manuel Théry

Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives (CEA)

Marileen Dogterom

Delft University of Technology

Petra Schwille

Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry

Rafael Giraldo

National Center of Biotechnology (CNB-CSIC)

Tobias Erb

Max Planck Institute for terrestrial Microbiology

Associate members


Hagan Bayley

Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford

Support Office


Stefania Usai

Programme Manager

Joanne Chauveau

Communication Advisor

with us!

Our goal is to create a coordinated European innovation ecosystem for synthetic cell research, where scientists can join forces with industry to advance and upscale research and stimulate technologies in Europe. We work closely with our partners, who help us plan our strategy and actively campaign with us for a pan-European innovation ecosystem.

Would you like to become a partner and help us shape the future of synthetic cell research in Europe?

Get in touch with us today!

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