The Giant Jamboree – The end of an iGEM story – Københavns Universitet

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04. januar 2018

The Giant Jamboree – The end of an iGEM story

The international Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Competition is the leading student team competition in Synthetic Biology. For more than 10 years, iGEM teams across the world have ideated, modelled, and worked in the lab during the summer to bring synthetic biology projects to life. By participating in iGEM teams are empowered to manage their own projects, advocate their research and secure funding.

By Tinne Amalie Damgaard Nissen, InCell team member representing the University of Copenhagen in the 2017 iGEM Competition.

A part of the iGEM team representing the University of Copenhagen, InCell. From left: Julius Elliot Nyegaard Grothen, Stine Le Tougaard, Tinne Amalie Damgaard Nissen, Louise Rasmussen, and Nermeen Ghoniem.

The iGEM year of 2017 culminated in the Giant Jamboree in Boston, MA, USA, the 9-13 of November. The Jamboree is the annual event that showcases the work of more than 300 international interdisciplinary iGEM teams and celebrates a season of hard work and accomplishment. The opening ceremony was a very special experience with an excited atmosphere shared by all the teams, judges and iGEM staff. Randy Rettberg, who is the President of the iGEM Foundation, opened the ceremony with an engaging speech. He emphasized that iGEM is more than just a competition; rather iGEM is a community celebrating the evolution of the synthetic biology industry. “The field of synthetic biology is expanding as we have hoped. Governments and the venture community are investing in the field at the level of a billion dollars” Randy stated.

The continuing importance of the evolution of the industry was also addressed. Christina Agapakis from the Gender Diversity Committee showed the statistics of the gender diversity in iGEM. “There are still a lot of people that think that engineering is something boys do, and communication is something girls do” Christina stated. iGEM is committed to being fully inclusive to all members of its community and recommends teams to be gender-balanced. The gender diversity of the 2017 teams was nearly 50%.

After the warm welcome the first team presentations began. The DTU-Denmark team gave an impressive presentation of their snake detection project with great support by their fellow Nordic teams. InCell, who represented the University of Copenhagen, competed in the Foundational Advances track. InCell took the stage Saturday in front of a full audience, which afterwards lead to a mixed emotions of both immense excitement and a ‘was that it?’ feeling. All the hard work and long nights in the lab had come to fruition.

All the team presentations during the Jamboree were at an overwhelmingly high level in regards to creative projects, the related pitches and the ensuing poster presentations.

But the Giant Jamboree was way more than team presentations and poster sessions. It also featured synthetic biology engineering challenges, workshops, networking sessions, meetups, a career fair, an insight into the FBI and a major party where new international friendships could be celebrated on the dancefloor.

The biggest experience from participating in the Giant Jamboree was for sure meeting the many fellow iGEM enthusiasts and understanding the amazingly wide range of the field of synthetic biology. After leaving Boston we feel more curious about synthetic biology than ever. Fortunately, the iGEM Foundation launched an initiative to connect the nearly 30.000 people that have been a part of the competition.

Being part of the iGEM competition have learned us a lot about project management, funding, teamwork, group communication, hosting events, pitching and much more. We have gained experience with many aspects of innovation and entrepreneurship; finding an idea, securing funding, and pitching the solution. Being part of iGEM can be compared to a start-up project, and several of the InCell team members feel empowered and inspired to start working with innovation and entrepreneurship.

So if you like science, teamwork, being creative, travelling and a great challenge, then I will strongly encourage you to apply for the iGEM Competition of 2018.

I promise you a fun and challenging journey!

InCells participation in the iGEM challenge was funded by the University of Copenhagen's pool for student innovation and entrepreneurship activities.