Building a biofoundry

Maciej B. Holowko, Emma K. Frow, Janet C. Reid, Michelle Rourke, Claudia E. Vickers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


A biofoundry provides automation and analytics infrastructure to support the engineering of biological systems. It allows scientists to perform synthetic biology and aligned experimentation on a high-throughput scale, massively increasing the solution space that can be examined for any given problem or question. However, establishing a biofoundry is a challenging undertaking, with numerous technical and operational considerations that must be addressed. Using collated learnings, here we outline several considerations that should be addressed prior to and during establishment. These include drivers for establishment, institutional models, funding and revenue models, personnel, hardware and software, data management, interoperability, client engagement and biosecurity issues. The high cost of establishment and operation means that developing a long-term business model for biofoundry sustainability in the context of funding frameworks, actual and potential client base, and costing structure is critical. Moreover, since biofoundries are leading a conceptual shift in experimental design for bioengineering, sustained outreach and engagement with the research community are needed to grow the client base. Recognition of the significant, long-term financial investment required and an understanding of the complexities of operationalization is critical for a sustainable biofoundry venture. To ensure state-of-the-art technology is integrated into planning, extensive engagement with existing facilities and community groups, such as the Global Biofoundries Alliance, is recommended.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberysaa026
JournalSynthetic Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021


  • biofoundry
  • high-throughput
  • synthetic biology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)


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