Sustainable Tissue Engineering Practices (STEP)

Initiative to replace animal use in labs by developing advanced bioprinting technology, promoting customer research and collaborating with cross-discipline innovators.

STEP encompasses the principles, steps and practices that guide how we work toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Following the principles of the 3Rs (replace, reduce, refine) for animal experimentation, we focus on replacing the use of animals in biomedical research and regulatory safety testing (eg, cosmetics industry).


We develop advanced bioprinting technologies that enable the creation of alternative methods, like 3D cell culturing and tissue modeling, to replace animal testing. We support and promote the groundbreaking research our customers have achieved with our bioprinters and biomaterials. Being a part of the bioconvergence revolution, our cross-discipline collaborations with innovators in product design and mechanical and software engineering are an integral part of fulfilling our corporate responsibility to sustainably shift away from using animals in the lab.

STEP 1: Technology
From our first universal bioink to our latest industrial-capacity bioprinter, our focus has always been to support the advancement of 3D cell culturing and tissue engineering with the end goal of using human cells to bioprint alternative testing or experimental methods that are more representative of human organs and tissues than animal subjects.
Our R&D team develops industry-leading state-of-the-art bioprinters that have democratized the field of bioprinting by making the hardware and biomaterials more accessible to researchers around the world. Our award-winning products power our customers’ amazing research, and we continue to develop functionalized biomaterials that better support cell viability and promote normal growth, including animal-free bioinks and cell culture medium.

As a full-service supplier for bioprinting researchers, we are also working on manufacturing preprinted tissue models. In a joint effort with MatTek, another BICO company, CELLSkin, is being developed as a bioprinted skin model with no animal-derived components that can replace the use of animal testing. CELLSkin models will be shipped ready to use with no need for expensive and cytotoxic cryopreservation in transit.

STEP 2: Awareness
Customers around the world are making amazing discoveries and breakthroughs every day with our products and technologies, and we are committed to supporting and promoting that research. Additionally, we develop partnerships with organizations committed to spreading the word on reducing the use of animals in biomedical research. We hope to make more people aware of the many possibilities that bioprinting will bring and to inspire the next generation of life science researchers who will take those advances even further.
Publications exemplifying STEP practices

Recapitulated the geometrical complexity of the brain and generated brain models to study normal development as well as disease mechanisms.


An innovative 3D tendon model was bioprinted onto a plant-based scaffold with adipose-derived stem cells, then cultured in xenogeneic-free medium for a truly animal-free model!


Developed a neural model that could be used in the biofabrication of microphysiological neural systems.


Combined stereolithography bioprinting and extrusion-based bioprinting for the high-throughput fabrication of artificial corneal structures that could be translated to clinical testing and used for transplantation.



A microfluidic-integrated 3D tumor immune microenvironment-on-a-chip was devised to study neutrophils interactions with ovarian cancer cells and understand the involvement of immune cells in different cancers.



Merged 3D bioprinting and computational fluid dynamics to bioprint patient-specific artery models, based on computer tomography images, that could be used to train surgical teams and personalize therapeutic approaches.



The Swedish 3Rs Center is an assembling arena for knowledge and progress when it comes to replacing, reducing and refining animal experiments in Sweden. The Center is steered by the Swedish National Committee for the Protection of Animals used for Scientific Purposes and regularly organizes events to promote animal-free research approaches.


CELLINK will use its web platform to help the Swedish 3Rs Center reach more researchers.


Learn more on their website ➝

STEP 3: Bioconvergence

We are proud to be part of the bioconvergence revolution. We invest in impactful collaborations with other innovators to amplify synergies and develop new technologies.

This collaboration aims to develop a collagen-based bioink to mimic the microenvironment of human mammalian cells. Despite the use of animal-derived collagen in this project, the FUNC-bioink opens the possibility to create more clinically relevant 3D bioprinted models which could replace animal models. Besides, the team is currently looking for substitution options of animal-derived collagen which makes FUNC-bioink a product with great promise.
A consortium focused on creating better and healthier standards for pregnant women by offering them a living environment with minimal risk for the fetus. To achieve this, the consortium uses scientifically valid data for prediction of the potential harmful risk factors of drugs and chemicals, experimentation will be performed with high ethical values via animal-free testing.
This project aims to create a 3D bioprinted model for megakaryocyte development and platelet production that overcomes the limitations of current animal models in the study of thrombocytopenia, a disease with two main underlying causes: a hematopoietic defect causing a decreased production of platelets or the destruction of platelets by an autoimmune disorder.
Our technologies and products are making a real difference in human health around the globe in accordance with the UN’s 3rd SDG of promoting good health and well-being. CELLINK is contributing to a world where researchers can gain knowledge using sustainable and animal-friendly methods.
Every STEP in the right direction counts, from developing technology to promoting amazing breakthroughs in bioprinting to collaborating across disciplines to leverage the synergies and innovations that help us produce even better equipment, biomaterials and testing models. Join the bioconvergence revolution to make sustainable changes that will benefit the health and well-being of people around the world.