News Listings

DIYBioMCR goes to London for Lab Easy

Monday, March 4th, 2013

Just like Dick Whittington, we’ve upped sticks and headed to London.

For the next two weeks, MadLab is hosting a Lab Easy at Clerkenwell’s The Arts Catalyst – they commission artwork that creatively engages with science, looking at links between the two.

Like a speakeasy, but with added test-tubes, we’ll be delving into the world of DIYBio with a whole heap of incredible biohackers from around the world.

To kick things off, we’re hosting a lab-raising tomorrow (Tuesday 5th March) with Dr Marc Dusseiller from Hackteria. Armed with Lego, gadgets and a bucket-load of enthusiasm, we’ll be building a shoestring lab on a budget.

Our residency will see us hosting fun-filled workshops into the wonderful worlds of bioluminescence, genetic modification and cellular gastronomy.

Check back soon for updates about our London adventures at the Lab Easy.

Workers of Manchester – Past and Present short film challenge

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Calling all film-makers of the North! We want your short films about our city’s industrial past. It’s an exciting opportunity to create living history about the very thing that has driven Manchester’s development over the years and the people who make the city tick.

You will have access to footage from the North West Film Archive and recordings of Northern Quarter residents telling their stories and memories in their own words – and of course you can take inspiration from the thriving, working city that surrounds us today.
L. Kaye, photographer, May 1959 (m73647) (more…)

Nesta Hot Topics

Monday, January 28th, 2013

Open PCR
Our afternoon workshop is now fully-booked but there are a few places still left for the evening panel session. To book, please see the link at the bottom of the page.

In the same way that 3D printing is revolutionising product manufacturing, low cost biological equipment is changing how we produce novel biotechnology. Microbrewing was the first industry to grab this opportunity. Experimentation with brewing techniques led to a renaissance in local breweries. But what could be next, and how do we develop the skills to work with these technologies outside the lab?

There are now several open biolabs facilities around the world, aiming to help anyone experiment with biological techniques. There are also echoes of the open source computing community, with the same emphasis on shared tools and collaboration. But are there are good reasons why this could be a lot harder than programming a 3D printer or producing a website.

Biological organisms do not follow the neat logic of a software program. They interact in unpredictable ways; they need care and time to grow; and, fundamentally, they come with the unknowns of natural systems rather than the order of manmade technologies. The complexities of biology might limit the potential success of amateur initiatives.

As biological tools become part of the armory of today’s innovation, is there a new set of skills and norms that come along with these? How does the routine of the lab mash with a creative hack culture? And what level of understanding do you need to do something truly inventive with a petri dish rather than html?

Nesta have teamed up with MadLab to run an event on 7 February. It will start with an afternoon workshop (introducing biohacking in a biolab space), followed by an evening panel discussion on the theme of biological literacy. The panelists include; Asa Calow, DIY Biologist and Founder and Director of the MadLab in Manchester; John O’Shea, artist and creator of the world’s first bio-engineered football; Philipp Boeing, UCL iGem and London Biohackers and Rod Dillon, lecturer in biomedicine, School of Health and Medicine, Lancaster University.

The workshop is designed as a taster for those with little knowledge of these techniques, but more experienced users are also welcomed for the panel discussion.



Registration: 2.30pm

Workshop: 3-5pm


Registration and refreshments: 6.30pm

Evening panel discussion: 7.30-9pm


To book a place on the afternoon workshop, please follow this link - and -

To attend the panel discussion, please follow this link.


DIYbio in 2013

Friday, January 18th, 2013

What better way to start the New Year than an appearance at TED. We were featured in Ellen Jorgensen from Genspace’s talk on biohacking at last year’s TED Global conference in Edinburgh:

It’s an awesome talk and a great introduction to DIYbio – as an added bonus if you scroll through to 4:17 you’ll see MadLab’s very own Hwa Young and others in the process of dismantling an octopus at our inaugural dissection workshop with Brian Degger from Transitlab.

In related news, 2013 is the year that we make a concerted effort to set up a dedicated and properly equipped bio-space at the MadLab and, thanks to the excellent Appliances Online, we’ve taken the first steps towards making that happen. When we spoke to Ben and the team there at the tail end of last year they very kindly offered to sponsor the lab space and as a result we now have a new freezer all set for storing our biological goodies in! Thanks guys!


We’ll be putting the freezer to good use this week, with an order of materials in advance of our NESTA event on the 7th of February. The workshop is booked out already, but keep your eyes on the @diybiomcr Twitter stream as we’ll be having a practice run very soon.


Digital Skills for Women in Manchester has launched!

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

Unemployed? Want to upgrade your tech skills? Need some help?

MadLab, Manchester Girl Geeks and Manchester Libraries can help you!

Finding a job can be tough, especially if the world has moved on since you were last looking. That’s why three Manchester organisations are joining together to offer IT training for women – for free. The Digital Skills for Women in Manchester workshops, taking place in five libraries from January to July 2013, will equip women with the tools they need in today’s workplace.

The past 12 months have seen wide-ranging cuts in public spending. It is predicted that reductions announced in the spending review will hit women, especially single mothers and female lone pensioners, harder than men. Manchester has also seen the Jobseeker’s allowance claimant count rise since 2008, with levels higher than the national average.

With this project, we aim to reach out to over 100 women in Greater Manchester who are currently not in employment to help them on their way.

There are four courses available:  Basic IT Skills, Social Media, Introduction to Web Development and Introduction to Programming. Participants can choose to take as many of the classes as they like. Not only will the workshops help women increase their opportunities to find employment by arming them with vital technical skills, but they will also increase confidence in their abilities to learn new things. Basic IT skills are essential requirements in today’s workplace, while programming is known to help improve problem solving abilities – another crucial skill in our fast-moving world.

Leading industry figures will run the courses, delivering the most up-to-date and relevant information. They include Liz Hardwick and Darren Jenkinson from DigiEnable, as well as Mike Little, co-founder of WordPress, the world’s most popular free blogging platform.

Each course will consist of three classes (one per week) at three hours each. To help those with children, the classes will run midweek during term time and during school hours (10am-1pm). Free lunch for the participants and a contribution to travel costs will be provided.

In addition to the classes, we will also hold free family days at MadLab, giving participants a hands-on introduction to the world of technology. These one-off sessions will include making multi-sensory ‘brain machines’, putting together and using Arduinos to make a mini theremin, and a robot hack day (turning ‘junk’ electronics into robots). Being introduced to MadLab will allow participants to find out about the community it supports and join one of the 50 free groups on offer and nurture their new interest in IT.

Digital Skills for Women in Manchester is a collaboration between the Manchester Digital Laboratory (, the Manchester Libraries, and Manchester Girl Geeks. The project is funded by the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) and the European Social Fund (ESF).

Great! What do I need to know?




To register for a course, interested applicants are asked to visit our website or contact their nearest library by phone or in person. The libraries taking part are listed below.

Important dates

Information and launch event

Saturday, 19th January 2012. 11am-4pm
MadLab, 36-40 Edge Street, Manchester M4 1HN

Meeting with the project organisers, information about the classes, and hands-on activities running 11am-4pm. Free tea and biscuits will be provided. No registration necessary – just turn up!

Course dates for “Basic IT Skills” class – all classes run 10am to 1pm.

North City Library (taught by Darren Jenkinson)

Tuesday 29 Jan, Tuesday 5 Feb, Tuesday 12 Feb

City Library (taught by Liz Hardwick)

Wednesday 30 Jan, Wednesday 6 Feb, Wednesday 13 Feb

Wythenshawe Forum Library (taught by Liz Hardwick)

Thursday 31 Jan, Thursday 7 Feb, Thursday 14 Feb

Gorton Library (taught by Darren Jenkinson)

Tuesday 26 Feb, Tuesday 5 Mar, Tuesday 12 Mar

Longsight Library (taught by Liz Hardwick):

Tuesday 5 Mar, Tuesday 12 Mar, Tuesday 19 Mar

Further dates will be announced in February!