Supercharge the Future with Synthetic Biology


11.3.2020       Submissions open

7.9.2020        Submissions close

7.9.2020        Invitations to meet

19.11.2020     Pitching Event

Synbio Powerhouse together with its industrial partners calls for ideas and solutions for the following challenges: Synthetic biofuels from CO2 and H2 , Municipal solid waste as feedstock, Living factories with microalgae and Microbial materials for the textile and clothing industry.

Today’s forward-looking industries and investors are fiercely searching for sustainable solutions that go beyond the obvious, in other words, are disruptive, scalable, environmentally sound and make business sense.

Synbio Powerhouse, a part of VTT, focuses on solving global challenges using the power of biotechnology. We help researchers and innovators to introduce ideas, solutions, and products to those willing to fund them and scale them. You can be a startup, established company or an innovator. We welcome software, hardware and lab solutions at different degrees of readiness.

St1 Challenge

Synthetic biofuels from CO 2 and H2

Currently St1 uses waste feedstock in its biorefineries. However, biomass alone will not meet the requirements for carbon-neutral energy production. In the future, we believe we must go beyond that, into synthetic biofuels using for example industrial CO2emissions as raw-material. Innovation is urgently needed to make this goal a reality.

Various approaches to harness CO2emissions as a building block for materials, fuels or chemicals exist, but these are still to advance to industrial maturity. Synthetic biology offers new tools to harness microbial conversion of CO2 or H2 to desired end products.

We are already working with academia and industry to discover new, viable technologies to produce synthetic fuels of the future. We expect that in 10 years’ time, a significant share of our biofuel production will be based on synthetic fuels.

We are inviting research, technologies, and partners that will put us and keep us on the path towards a synthetic fuel future.

Read more on St1

Neste Challenge

1. Municipal solid waste as feedstock

Municipal solid waste (MSW) consists of organic waste, waste paper, plastic waste, tin cans, aluminum cans, textile, glass, etc. It represents a major crisis for megacities and rural communities, causing pollution (water, air, visual, hazardous substances), as well as emissions of greenhouse gases.

We are looking for new industrial biotechnology and synthetic biology tools and solutions to transform municipal solid waste to fuels as well as to value-added applications.

We are also looking for scalable and adaptable systems for the collection of municipal waste in megacities of developing countries.

Read more on Neste

2. Living Factories with Microalgae

Algae grow much faster than terrestrial plants and their yield is higher than other oil crops. Besides fuel for energy production, algae oil, proteins and other components can be used for food and feed, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and other applications. Test cultivation of microalgae has proceeded from the laboratory to the field and pilot facilities of different scales. Naturally the next step is to proceed into commercial production.

To step up our effort we are searching for solutions provided by synthetic biology to improve cost-efficiency of algae-based production of fuels, chemicals and beyond

We are also looking for sources of renewable electricity, built into the production systems.

Lastly, we are interested in training, financial support mechanisms and business models to help convert traditional algae production into microalgae cultivation.

Read more on Neste

SynBio Powerhouse Partner Challenge

Microbial materials for the textile and clothing industry

Currently the textile and clothing industries are a devastating burden to earth’s water resources and land use. The use of fossil-based materials, plastics and the waste they accumulate multiply the problem. Synthetic biology offers many opportunities to address this problem.

Microbes can efficiently use a huge variety of waste sources to produce substitutes for fossil-based raw materials as well as cotton and silk. They can also be used to make leather-like materials and other protein-based materials with desired characteristics. Biotechnology also enables never-before-seen functionalities to be integrated and new design opportunities. Consumers increasingly want textiles that are sustainable, functional, comfortable  and beautiful, all at once.

Our partners and investors are searching for new sustainable and socially responsible innovations to fund.

We are looking for cutting-edge innovations for the textile and consumer goods industry harnessing the potential of synthetic biology.

Read more on SynBio Powerhouse

What is in it for me?

Pitch to Industrial leaders

The ones that pass our selection process get to pitch to investors and corporate partners looking for opportunities. 

We will bring some of the most influential players in our networks to meet you during the pitching event on November 19. The final list of the participants will be announced in the fall of 2020.

The pitching takes place in three categories: innovators, startups/SMEs and research scientists. All pitches in these categories are competing for the main prize. A good pitch often has an unexpected element in it, but what we expect to hear is a presentation of the team members, the problem, the solution and a brief breakdown of the science behind your solution. We also appreciate a relevant reference to a publication or other data.

The distinguished judges of the competition will be

founder of Global Helix

founder of World Bio Markets and Synbio Markets

VP of Innovation at Neste

Senior Scientist at ST1

Research Professor of industrial biotechnology at VTT

Co-creation Manager at Synbio Powerhouse, VTT

Expert Insight

Participants will be invited to meet both Rick Johnson and Alex Williamson in person to discuss the international market for synthetic biology.

Rick Johnson

Rick Johnson is the CEO and Founder of Global Helix LLC, a consulting and government strategy firm based in Washington DC, that focuses on strategic policy issues related to S&T policy, innovation, the globalization of R&D, massive data, technology standards, intellectual assets, research policy, and public-private partnerships – especially in the life sciences.  He serves as the Chairman or Vice-Chairman of three OECD/BIAC Committees – Biotechnology and Life Sciences, Technology, and Nanotechnology. He currently is involved in a number of global policy and legal initiatives related to emerging technologies, including synthetic biology, tools for “big data”, and next-generation genomics discovery and innovation.

Alex Williamson

Alex Williamson has spent the last 15 years building business networks within the media, events and business intelligence industries. An entrepreneur with two successful exits to his name, Alex committed to leveraging his skillset to launch a meaningful venture with genuine, positive impact for the planet. This led to the launch of Bio Market Insights in 2015. Today it is the leading professional platform and media outlet for the bio-industry, driving the connection and commercialization of the bio value chain across agriculture and food, chemicals and materials, and healthcare. World Bio Markets also holds a leading industry event annually that focuses on commercialization of the bio economy.

Apply now


Already got something far in the pipeline? Join us to network and expand your possibilities! Increase your visibility among potential partners.


Already working on something cool? This is an opportunity for you to network and potentially secure some funding.


Have a solution in mind and want support in taking it forward? Don’t hesitate to submit your idea!




Co-creation Manager
at SynBio




at Synbio



PhD, Tech Faculty
Senior Scientist
at VTT



Dr, Engineering
Research Scientist
at VTT



Prof., PhD
Research Professor
at VTT

Samples of work


This sustainable microbially produced silk protein can be made to tough flexible fibers for many different applications -so strong it can even stop a bullet. Spider silk is the strongest known material biologically produced by living organisms. With the help of synthetic biology we can produce this super material without using spiders.

Researcher Pezhman Mohammadi, Wihuri Center for Young Synbio Scientists, Aalto University, VTT

Read more…


Headphones made from biomaterials produced by yeast and fungal mycelium

Microbially grown materials can be used to replace oil-based materials in various everyday consumer products – such as headphones. A project team comprising research scientists, industrial designers and documentarians wanted to prove this possible and produced a set of headphones in their project Korvaa, the plastic and leather components of which were grown by microbes. VTT and Aalto University produced the materials, Aivan took care of industrial design, and Fotoni Film documented and photographed the progress of the project.

Read more…

Project Organisers

Synbio Powerhouse
Synbio Powerhouse is the operator of the synthetic biology ecosystem in Finland and beyond.

The ecosystem consists of companies, scientists, students and innovators from a variety of disciplines, as well as investors and other stakeholders that share a passion for applying synthetic biology to build a more sustainable world.

Synbio Powerhouse provides ecosystem opportunities for partnering, co-creation, business building and acts as a communication channel for the whole field. It also has tight connections to partner businesses and innovation ecosystems in the main markets. Synbio Powerhouse enables mentoring for startups, growth acceleration and access to infrastructure platforms.

Read more…

VTT is a visionary research, development and innovation partner.

VTT drives sustainable growth, tackles the biggest global challenges of our time and turns them into growth opportunities. We go beyond the obvious to help the society and companies to grow through technological innovations.

We have over 75 years of experience in top-level multi-disciplinary research and science-based innovations. VTT’s turnover and other operating income is 268 M€.

VTT is at the sweet spot where innovation and business come together.

Read more…

Project Partners

World’s third most sustainable corporation seeks partners to fuel growth.

Neste is the world’s largest producer of renewable diesel and renewable jet fuel refined from waste and residues. Neste helps transport and cities, as well as customers in the aviation, polymers and chemicals sectors, make their business more sustainable. The aim of the company is to become the global leader in renewable and circular solutions.

Neste has been ranked as the third most sustainable corporation on the Corporate Knights’ Global 100 list.

Though it has a strong legacy and track-record in innovations, Neste acknowledges that it needs partners to meet its goals. Therefore Neste is currently looking for research partners and startup and industrial partners to join in the effort.

Read more…

Pioneering Nordic CO-aware energy company in search of fresh ideas.

St1 is a Nordic energy Group that seeks to be a leading producer and seller of sustainable CO-aware energy. The company is constantly experimenting with new feedstocks and piloting new ways to produce energy.

St1 runs biorefineries and windfarms and is currently drilling an over six-kilometer deep geothermal well. To stay on the chosen path, the company is constantly looking for fresh research and new ideas.

Read more…