Centre for Engineering Biology

Automation and Robotics

Low-cost automation tools, enhanced with the power of artificial intelligence and data-sharing protocols, can revolutionize biological research and development.

Edinburgh genome Foundry

The University has an active community of researchers interested in all aspects of automation and robotics. It has developed a roadmap for growth in this area and is working in close partnership with the academic and industrial research community to realise this.

New ways of working  

We are developing new ways of working, deploying robotics and automation in our labs. This improves the reproducibility of experiments, reduces cost, increases speed and saves valuable time. Researchers can then focus on creative design and analysis (‘thinking’), rather than ‘doing.’

We are promoting the shift from doing individual experiments manually, varying one variable at a time, towards automating experiments in a high throughput manner to allow us to optimize several variables in a single experiment.

We are embracing the capacity of automation tools to obtain large, high quality datasets to enable the move towards data-driven research; we can take advantages of machine learning algorithms to elucidate new insights even if we initially could see not evident correlations.

We are incorporating artificial algorithms into automated platforms, which create an internal hypothesis in the design cycle, while allowing the researcher to generate bigger picture higher-level hypotheses.

New ways of thinking

In the future, automation and robotics will become an ever-increasing component of everyday research, indeed part of everyday life.

However, to derive greatest value from automation, we often need to rethink why and how we do things traditionally to transfer them efficiently to a more automated system. Therefore, training and education in the underpinning platforms – programming (scripting) of machines, developing and adapting protocols – is essential.


For further information about this strategic research theme, please contact

Dr Giovanni Stracquadanio

Senior Lecturer in Synthetic Biology. Co-Director of the Edinburgh Genome Foundry

Contact details

See also