Open Call Poster

OPEN CALL: Join a Project at GrowLab

Do you want a space to creatively experiment with growing algae, microbes, or plants?

We are looking for two students/researchers to carry out their bio-projects in the DIY GrowLab, which is in development and getting ready to be launched.

DEADLINE for applications: Friday May 31 2024

Notification of results by: Friday June 7, 2024

  • 1-3 month project at DIY GrowLab
  • Space, equipment, materials provided according to need
  • We invite creatives and students in all fields to apply
  • Be part of an EU project!



Aalto GrowLab is a DIY space in Aalto Studios (Otakaari 7, Espoo), which acts as an incubator for engaging creatively with the process of biological growing, making, and designing. 

We run on a makerspace philosophy: learning-by-making, sharing and lowering barriers to knowledge, finding creative workarounds, and combining different fabrication techniques.  

Out intention is to be as low-threshold and open as much as possible, and we encourage users to be messy, scavenge stuff, make their own tools, and try things out that might be otherwise hard to do in a strict lab environment. 

We are currently setting up the GrowLab through a DIY approach, with the future students in mind. As the first users, you will play a pivotal role in shaping the direction of this space. We’ll work together to identify and acquire the equipment, tools, materials, and protocols needed to support your own projects.

The open call is an opportunity to carry out your ‘independent project’, and each participant will be working on their own projects/interests for the duration in the summer. This means that we won’t enforce working hours, and you are expected to manage your own time and take initiative for your own research.

The GrowLab is part of an EU project – CoCoon: Co-creating Greener Futures lead by doctoral researcher Ena Naito, Juhani Tenhunen, and EU partner team.


This year, we have three tracks for the projects. The applicants are invited to propose their ideas broadly based on one (or a combination) of these themes:

Track 1: Microalgae for biomaterial/colours

We are looking to design and set-up a DIY bioreactor in the GrowLab, and the student will research and work with spirulina microalgae to explore its potential as biomaterial and/or biocolours.

Track 2: Microbial cellulose (SCOBY)

We are open to applications that aims to work with growing microbial cellulose in any creative or scientific way – fashion, packaging, electronics, speculative storytelling, etc.

Track 3: Dyers’ plants

We are particularly interested in proposals that explore growing local dye plants (or fungi) and its creative/scientific applications. We have a small plot outside of the FabLab, which can be used for plant growing and cultivation.

We are looking for project proposals which:

  • Combine the process of growing in biodesign with digital, analogue, or traditional fabrication tools and techniques.
  • Approaches biodesign through hands-on, creative DIY methods and tools.
  • Helps to make biodesign more accessible to students and the public.
  • Note: we do not work with GMO or synthetic biology.

You will have access to:

  • Experimental space in DIY GrowLab corner.
  • Equipment and materials needed for your experiments.
  • Facilities at Aalto Studios: FabLab, wood and metal workshop, dyeing studio, etc.
  • Support, mentoring, advising, and network with CoCoon partners.


  • You are a bachelor, master or doctoral student (in any field) or a creative researcher. You may have the option to receive credits as part of your project or thesis (contact your own department to arrange this).
  • You DO NOT need prior experience in biodesign or with the organisms. But if this is the case, you need the enthusiasm to be willing to self-direct your project (with support from us)! 


Do I need to be affiliated with an institution to apply?

No, we welcome anyone who is interested in working at the DIY GrowLab.

Are living costs covered?

Unfortunately, we cannot cover any living/travel costs or salary for this project.

What kinds of facilities do you have?

We have a small DIY work/grow space in the corner of one of our workshops. You will also have access to the FabLab, Dyeing Studio, and the garden plot outside. We have a DIY incubator, a small oven, cooker, drying cabinet, washing machines, and access to a kitchen (with kitchen tools, etc). Our intention is to build much of the equipment as possible ourselves, and to try to find creative workarounds for setting-up the lab. Our little GrowLab is constantly changing. For most recent photos check out our Instagram account: @a.little.growlab

What organisms can I work with?

We work with BSL0 (Biosafety Level 0) organisms, meaning that they are entry-level and food-safe in the GrowLab. Working with organisms that are highly perceptible to contamination would be very challenging in our space, as we do not have a laminar flow.


If you have any questions or problems, please contact:

Ena Naito, Doctoral Researcher

About CoCoon

CoCoon is a strategic alliance that combines research on biology, education, bio-design and innovative infrastructures to contribute to the second priority of the ERASMUS+ Forward-Looking Projects: supporting education and training systems to adapt to the green transition.

Find out more

Questions? Contact

For any questions, contact

  • Ena Naito
    Ena Naito

    Doctoral Researcher

    +358 50 464 4304

  • Juhani Tenhunen
    Juhani Tenhunen

    International Projects and Collaboration, VR Interest Group Coordination

    +358 50 518 4087

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