New Materials, Ondernemen

Meet the bioneers – Opening BlueCity Lab 2.0

BLUE CITY LAB LOWRES LOGO- Jacqueline Fuijkschot-11

On Friday, November 27 at 5 pm, BlueCity Lab opens its three new laboratories. In the dressing rooms of a former swimming pool, pioneers in biosolutions convert their ideas into concrete products to accelerate the new economy. Alderman for Sustainability in Rotterdam Arno Bonte gives the festive sign to start the biorevolution with an online opening ceremony.

Circular economy will be the norm in 2050 – but we don’t yet know what forms it should take. Places to experiment are therefore crucial,” says Nienke Binnendijk, director of BlueCity Lab: “The bio-revolution has already started here, and that means a focus on regeneration of ecosystems. Sounds complicated, but it is very simple: everything we do serves to ensure that more nature is created. In addition to the makerspace which has been in operation since 2017, BlueCity now also has a Fungi Lab to experiment with mycelium, a Bacterial Lab and a general lab for light biochemical work. The opening takes place during SYMBIOSIS, the annual festival for bioneers.

Essential combination of labs

Experimenting, prototyping and working on business cases that give substance to the new economy, thats why the pioneers – we call them bioneers – join BlueCity Lab. The Lab has wet labs and a dry makerspace. “That combination is essential,” says Binnendijk: “You grow your material in the wet labs, and convert it into a product in the workshop. That way you can develop and test your prototype so much faster than waiting for lab results. “ In collaboration with Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, the BlueCity Lab also prepares students from a circular practical situation for the labor market of the future. 

Meet the bioneers of BlueCity Lab


“If we can create systems with waste, we can also design them without.”
Marjanne Cuypers-Hendrikson, BlueBlocks

Our mission is to build and foster a healthy future for both humans and planet. Our strength lies in combining green technology with design to fit people’s needs, in harmony with the bigger natural system we are part of. We develop biomaterials and products, and form new local networks across sector boundaries. We prevent waste from the start, or transform unused residual materials of one organisation into valuable materials or products for another. That is how we design waste out of our systems

Outlander Materials

Let’s UnPlastic this planet!”  – Lori Goff & team, Outlander Materials

UnPlastic is developed by Outlander Materials and formulates an answer to single-use plastics: a functional, compostable and non-plastic alternative that releases no toxins. It is circular, made from food industry sources, by-products, and beer waste, and will never break down into micro- or nanoplastics.

Life CycleLisa Jongejans

100% bio-based urn grown by mycelium Life Cycle is a Start-Up by Lisa Jongejans. It was shown at various design exhibitions, like Dutch Design Week 2019 and The Cube Museum. ‘Life Cycle’ is a final destination, a farewell ritual and 100% biodegradable. Using nature, Lisa grows the urns with mycelium (fungi network), the residual powder after Resomation, and adds flower seeds. The body is returned to nature.

Flip the City Hidde Griek, Nina Rodenburg, Eliza Scholtens Sophia Queckenberg, Emma Raijmakers
Circular Challenge 2020

The winners of the BlueCity Circular Challenge September 2020, team Provincie Zuid-Holland, used a waste stream of duckweed (a small aquatic plant) to create duckweed tiles integrated with flower and plant seeds. These tiles can be used to replace concrete ones, thereby benefitting biodiversity, water and heat relief in the city. They will develop their prototype further in BlueCity Lab.

FOREST WOOL – Tamara Orjola & team

Pine trees are the world’s main source of timber. Every year 600 million pine trees are cut down in the EU alone. But there is more to the tree than just wood: pine needles account for 10-30 percent of its mass and to this day they are an unappreciated and underutilized by-product of logging.
Forest Wool turns waste coming from the timber industry – pine needles – into the fiber which is used for fabric production. Pine needle fiber is a great alternative for imported & cultivated fiber as it is a local and off-seasonal material. Production of pine needle textile doesn’t require agricultural land, pesticides, and water for its resources to grow.

Metropolder Company

MetroPolder company developed the Polder Roof® as a solution for flooding in cities. They are still developing, but already they are cheaper than traditional solutions (larger sewers, stormwater tanks). Cheaper and beneficial for the city which is also getting even greener, smarter and more livable. In order to make smart water storage on flat roofs possible, we developed the world’s first Polder Roof concept. The Polder Roof transforms roofs into smart, controlled, water storage. In this way, the system is able to store all rain that falls on the roof and to dispose of or use at a later time. The Polder Roof serves as the foundation for a green roof, rooftop garden, or solar park. The Polder Roof enables irrigation, infiltration or a connection to greywater systems.

SavFood – Ahmer Ashraf & Sarah Ashraf

One-third of all food produced in the world is wasted (UN FAO), moreover it is one of the largest contributors to the CO2 emissions. Our aim is to reduce food waste by creating new and innovative products from potential waste and side streams. This way, the products re-enter the food chain.

SavFood has started this journey by re-purposing potato peels waste with the aim to valorize the whole stream. We are also currently researching a number of other waste streams. SavFood is founded by two conscious human beings concerned about the way food is wasted at all levels. At the core of our operations is a concern for environment and more importantly, the people. In short, we want to help make this world a better place.

Seaweed Dye –  Nienke Hoogvliet – Anne Boermans & team

The textile industry is the second most polluting industry in the world after the oil industry. That must and can be done differently. Seaweed Dye has developed circular solutions to make the textile industry sustainable with seaweed. Seaweed is an extremely sustainable resource because it does not require freshwater, farmland, or pesticides to grow.

Designer Nienke Hoogvliet (creative founder of Seaweed Yarn & Dye) has been working on a small scale process for five years, researching the coloring with seaweed (and waste streams). Several types of seaweed have been studied, and there is a wide color palette developed, from green and brown to pink and purple. Now is the time to demonstrate that this textile dye can be widely used.


Addoptics offers a flexible manufacturing service for prototyping and series production of custom optics. Not only does it provide you with industry material optics but it also delivers them at your door step only in a matter of days. Its innovative approach to production line revolves around 3D printing and vacuum casting that makes optic manufacturing not only cost effective but also closer to achieving environmental sustainability in this field.


SoylentBlue is an experimental project in which synthetic polymers – plastics –become converted into nutrients through the use of living organisms. Scientists have discovered that mealworms, which are gaining popularity as a high-protein replacement for conventional ones meat products, are able to eat and digest certain types of plastic. The bugs can thus convert plastic into nutritious biomass. In the coming year, SoylentBlue wants to see how these biodegradative properties of meal worms, as well as other organisms, can be integrated into one process that turns plastic waste into nourishment.

Form Follows Organism – Emma van der Leest

Micro-organisms are the basis of biodesign, where paint is the basis of an artist. Emma graduated cum laude in 2015 as a product designer from the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam. Form Follows Organism: The biological computer is her research and book on biodesign and the changing role of the designer when you collaborate with science. Emma is the founder of BlueCity Lab in BlueCity. Her goal is to lower the threshold for anyone who wants to work with micro-organisms and waste streams to develop new materials and share knowledge. She also works as a freelancer with various (inter) national universities and companies on the new materials of the future, made by our smallest earthlings: micro-organisms.

Dung Se (Lindey Cafsia & Studio Carbon)

Dungse is an innovation of using cow dung along with other bio based materials, to make composite materials that can substitute virgin wood, concrete, synthetic wool and plastic products in our homes and interiors. Giving this age old natural material a new spin can make it far more advanced in its properties and a lot more beautiful and accessible by urban and rural consumers.

Opening of BlueCity Lab
bluecity lab compilatie 2020

In the dressing rooms of a former swimming pool, pioneers in biosolutions convert their ideas into concrete products to accelerate the new economy. And over the past five years, a lively ecosystem has grown in and around BlueCity of entrepreneurs and makers. Want to learn more about the opening of BlueCity Lab?

> read more