OpenDiagnostics are developing a low-cost paper-based diagnostic platform technology for the surveillance of crop and livestock viral infections in low income countries, which if left undetected threaten food security and farmers’ livelihoods. The technology is based on recent advances in ‘cell-free’ synthetic biology, whereby genetic circuits embedded in paper can be designed to sense a viral sequence and generate a simple colour change in response. The Cambridge-based team has carried out market research, built partnerships in Africa and raised initial funds for proof-of-concept experiments. They are now focused on prototyping.