From Robotics to SynBio: Imperial College London will open Brand New Hackspaces

06/02/2017 - 3 minutes

Imperial College London is investing £5M in the creation of new interdisciplinary hackspaces, including a space exclusively dedicated to molecular sciences.

Imperial College London has a history of fostering the translation of research into products, mainly through its commercialization and investment partner Imperial Innovations. Now, the university has announced plans to invest £5M and dedicate an entire building in its White City Campus to inventions created by a community of staff, students, alumni and commercial partners.

The new hackspace, which will open at The Invention Rooms, will provide access to commercial prototyping resources and unique technology created at Imperial that isn’t commercially available yet. The facilities will cover projects ranging from robotics to synthetic biology and molecular fabrication.

An additional space, the Molecular Sciences Research Hub, will be added to Imperial’s hackspace network when its construction is finished in 2018. By then, the network will count with 8 fully dedicated hackerspaces. Imperial boasts that its new spaces will make it home of one of the largest hackspace networks in the world, covering the equivalent surface to that of 10 tennis courts.

Imperial College London Hackspace

Imperial’s existing hackspaces have given birth to innovative projects, industry partnerships and spin-out companies. A great example is FreshCheck, developed by PhD students from Imperial, which can detect bacteria in food quickly, easily and cheaply. The FreshCheck label could reinvent food packaging with a simple color change from blue to orange to indicate when the food goes off. Alex Bond, one of the founders, has been featured in Forbes 2017 Europe’s 30 under 30 list for his work in FreshCheck.

Hackspaces initially started out in informal environments, such as garages and abandoned warehouses, where anyone could experiment and create prototypes. Nowadays, many of them receive the support of institutions, helping them reach a wider community and translate discoveries into commercial products faster.

We want to make it as easy for an undergraduate to make their idea a reality as it is for their faculty professor.  It’s also an opportunity for hundreds of new collaborations,” said Oscar Ces, a chemical biologist and member of the management team of Imperial College Advanced Hackspace.

Imperial’s commercial partners include top-tier names such as AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline and Johnson & Johnson Innovation. Thanks to the university’s network os partners and spaces, anyone with an innovative idea can access all the necessary resources to test it and develop a product that can eventually benefit people all around the globe.

Images provided by Camargue

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