Innovative ideas win Principal’s Award

SynthSys members bagged five of the seven inaugural Principal’s Innovation Awards receiving £10,000 each to develop their ideas further.

The winning teams’ proposals range from greener synthesis of industrial chemicals, artificial intelligence for crop performance and living devices that can both detect and treat disease.

The awards, established in May 2020, support proof-of-concept work to help develop new, potentially transformative projects. They are designed to enable researchers to develop innovative ideas into ambitious, large-scale research proposals.

These seven innovative project proposals show real ambition and creativity, of the kind that can tackle today’s big challenges. I congratulate all the winners and look forward to seeing the projects’ progress

Professor Peter MathiesonPrincipal and Vice-Chancellor

The Awards are listed below.

Principal Investigator  



Professor Dominic Campopiano, School of Chemistry


Professor Dominic Campopiano, Professor Susan Rosser, Dr Filippo Menolascina, Dr Amanda Jarvis and Dr Stephen Wallace.

ChemOD@Ed – Chemistry on Demand at the University of Edinburgh: harness cross-college expertise in synthetic chemistry and synthetic biology to create rapid, innovative approaches to the ‘greener’ synthesis of target chemicals on demand for industrial partners.



Professor Peter Doerner, 

School of Biological Sciences


Professor Peter Doerner, Professor Sotirios Tsaftaris, Dr Chris Wood, Dr Karl Burgess.

Putting the plant in the driving seat: artificial intelligence for crop performance.

Dr Amanda Jarvis, 

School of Chemistry


Dr Amanda Jarvis, Professor Dominic Campopiano, Professor Susan Rosser, Professor Meriem El Karoui and Dr Diego Oyarzun.


Expanding Nature’s Polymers: a platform technology for the streamlined incorporation of unnatural amino acids into proteins.

Professor Susan Rosser, 

UK Centre for Mammalian Synthetic Biology


Professor Susan Rosser and Dr Liz Fletcher.

Make a step change in medicine by engineering new cell-based therapies that can simultaneously combine precise detection of a disease with a targeted treatment.

Dr Adam Stokes, 

Soft Systems Group

The Soft Systems Group in the School of Engineering.

Soft Systems for Hard Problems: using soft materials, fluids, and biological components to design novel engineering solutions to societal and scientific problems, for example in soft robotics for safe interaction and fluidic logic control of machines.