Recap SYMBIOSIS festival 2020 (industry day)

During the first edition of SYMBIOSIS Festival, we investigated what the fourth industrial revolution will look like. Over the course of two days, we explored different ways to live, work, play and produce in symbiosis with the ecosystems around us. Together with inspiring speakers, artists and scientists we tried to answer the question: how can we live in harmony with nature again?

On Friday 27 November, we explored how designing with living organisms can be the change we need in the context of today’s current environmental and ecological challenges. And why we need biolabs as a safe space for experimenting to enhance the endless possibilities for sustainable change. We virtually gathered professionals to share their knowledge and experience. In private workshops, talks and matchmaking sessions, we discussed barriers, methods and (new) forms of cooperation. To give you an overview of the discussions, the program is presented in this blog.


14.00 Opening by Ruben Baart of Next Nature Network

14.15 – 15.00 DIY-Lab – why biolabs are essential for the bio circular economy

In this opening panel conversation, together with Jasper Bloemen of Glimps.Bio, Yasmine Ostendorf of Green Art Lab Alliance and the Future Materials Bank and Nienke Binnendijk, director of BlueCity lab, we talked about what role biolabs play in a sustainable transition and how we can work with nature as a partner, rather than a resource.

15.00 – 15.10 Chatroulette without regret | Meet your fellow bioneers

We organized 2 sessions in which all participating bioneers are mixed. We believe in finding new solutions for existing problems by enhancing unexpected encounters. With these two sessions we simulate unexpected encounters you normally have at symposia online.


15.15 – 16.00 SESSION 1: Biomaterials to the test by The Exploded View

At Dutch Design Week, a collaborative project of more than 60 partners presented a maquette of a biocircular home built from various materials, production techniques and waste flows. The maquette is exhibited during SYMBIOSIS Festival, giving the opportunity to talk about structural questions raised by this ambitious project. Together with various makers, we explored the materials, the economics of scale, and local scaling up. With Pascal Leboucq, head designer of The Exploded View Eva Aarts, founder of Waterweg and Marjanne Cuypers, founder of BlueBlocks

15.15 – 16.00 SESSION 2:  Fund your Bio Circular Solution

Holistic solutions are not very easy to fund, because the owner of the problem that many bioneers try to solve are often multiple clients. In this workshop independent creative consultant Roy Cremers, founder and managing director of creative crowdfunding platform till May this year, explained how crowdfunding can be an interesting way to (kick)start your business. Bioneer Eduarda Bastian shared her own experiences with crowdfunding: raised 6000 euros for investigating upcycling hop fibres in The Hop Project.

15.15 – 16.00 SESSION 3: Complex collaborations: healthy soils for sustainable solutions
You don’t have to tell a farmer much about the value and importance of the soil. Without fertile soil, his company quickly goes bankrupt. But what is the relationship between our economy and the soil and what are the consequences? How can we, by working together with nature, initiate the transition to a new economy of not just taking, but giving. And build sustainable, resilient local economies? And what role does manure play in this? In this workshop for professionals, we investigated the various options for a more sustainable soil, what a good earnings model can be to realize this and what the most sustainable solution is. With Luuk Braam from Den Ouden Groep and Fernande Pool, social scientist turned farmer and founder of AltVisions.


16.15 – 17.00 Closing Panel| Growing Networks – how to start a biorevolution

In ten years, we need to double nature to make our global economy work within the planetary boundaries. Four experts from industry, art and science talk about the upcoming revolution: a biorevolution. Where do we start this biorevolution? With Cindy Gerhardt, Managing Director of Planet, the biotech campus, Helen Toxopeus of Sustainable Finance Lab,  Mark Slegers, one of the founders of BlueCity and rotterzwam and Koert van Mensvoort from Next Nature Network.

17.00 – 17.30 Official opening of new BlueCity Lab with speech & tour by director Nienke Binnendijk

The very reason for this festival: BlueCity Lab opened it’s long awaited new labs! Director Nienke Binnendijk gives a live tour through the three new labs: a big lab to experiment, do research and work safely with light chemical process, a bacteria lab next to a cleanroom and a fungi lab.

17.30 – 18.00 Virtual drinks and networking options | Closing

All throughout the day: VR tours of the brand new BlueCity Lab and launch of The Growcast

A ticket for SYMBIOSIS Festial industry day costs €7.50. 

About SYMBIOSIS Festival 2020

I think, I search, so I am: a human. As West-Europeans, we tend to look at nature as an external concept, while as homo sapiens, we are part of that same nature. Symbiosis means living together, and comes from the Greek: sym (together) and bios (to live). We stand at the beginning of the fourth industrial revolution in which we cooperate with nature instead of work against it. With the annual SYMBIOSIS Festival, BlueCity Lab opens its doors for biodesigners, scientists, biotech companies, other biolabs, social organizations and curious visitors to share their experience, expertise and vision on how we shape collaborations with nature in the fourth industrial revolution.

About BlueCity Lab

BlueCity Lab is a biocircular playground for pioneers located in the heart of BlueCity. We support the transition to a biocircular economy by making work and lab space available for a growing group of pioneers. Bioniers give examples of a regenerative economy within the planetary boundaries by doing and experimenting.

About BlueCity

Where the pioneers of the circular economy gather in a former swimming pool. Since 2015, BlueCity has developed fitself rom an empty swimming pool to the hub of the circular economy in the city and the region. Anno 2020, BlueCity is a model city for the circular economy, where enterprising minds meet and develop concrete action perspectives; whether it concerns increasing your positive impact, living zero waste or developing a future-proof material.

COVID-19 measures

This festival took place online. Also next years SYMBIOSIS festival 2021 will take place online.


SYMBIOSIS Festival is made possible by the support of Stimuleringsfonds Creatieve Industrie.