In this article, we argue that on-chip microfluidic systems provide an attractive technology when it comes to designing synthetic cells. We emphasize the importance of the surrounding environment for both living systems in nature and for developing artificial self-sustaining entities. On-chip microfluidic devices provide a high degree of control over the production of cell-like synthetic entities as well as over the local microenvironment that these soft-matter-based synthetic cells experience. Rapid progress in microfluidic fabrication technology has led to a variety of production and manipulation tools that establish on-chip environments as a versatile platform and arguably the best route forward for realizing synthetic life.

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