iGEM Startups (150+ and counting)
iGEM projects often serve as proofs of concepts and prototypes, form foundations of thesis projects and contribute to over 150 startups. Below are just a few examples of how iGEM projects lead to startups and powerhouse companies.
Does your startup or company have roots in iGEM? Let us know by visiting After iGEM.
iGEM team: iGEM MIT 2004 / MIT 2006
Ginkgo’s 5 co-founders were part of the iGEM 2006 team, including iGEM co-founder Tom Knight.
iGEM project: Engineer E. coli to produce a wintergreen and banana scent using only endogenous metabolites. This inspired Ginkgo Bioworks production of cultured flavors, fragrances, and nutritional ingredients. A powerhouse in synthetic biology, Ginkgo Bioworks recently exceeded $719 Million in total funding as of 2019.
"iGEM is cultivating the current and future leaders of synthetic biology and biotech”
- - Jason Kelly, CEO and co-founder, Ginkgo Bioworks, iGEM 2006
iGEM team: iGEM U Washington 2011 team
PvP Biologics got its start as an iGEM project when the UW 2011 iGEM team created KumaMax, the first recombinant candidate enzyme therapeutic for celiac disease. The project developed into a postdoc and later a startup receiving $35M in funding from Takeda in 2017. In February 2019 Takada acquired PVP Biologics for $330M.
News link highlighting company's roots in iGEM: pvpbio.com/2016/12/20
“…not only did our iGEM team win the competition – defeating over 150 other teams – this work provided the foundation for a body of work that turned into a startup company.”
- - Dr. Ingrid Pultz, CSO PvP Biologics, iGEM UW 2011 team leader
iGEM team: Genspace 2014
Opentrons began as an iGEM Genspace project in 2014 where the team worked on an open source equipment development in the form of a liquid handling robot. The project grew to a startup with a $10M funding round in 2018.
Opentrons is now giving back to the iGEM community by offering team grants, awarding 10 teams a free OT-2 robot for 2018 and 2019.
“Teams that participate in the iGEM Competition are pioneers of scientific collaboration and reproducible experimentation, setting the replicability bar higher for all types of life science labs, iGEM teams, and synthetic biology professionals”
- - Kristin Ellis, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Opentrons, iGEM Judge
iGEM team: iGEM Imperial 2014
The Imperial 2014 iGEM project, Aqualose, was a customizable ultrafiltration membranes from bacterial cellulose which later led to the startup CustoMem [rebranded Puraffinity in 2019], receiving $1.9M in funding as of 2019.
Henrik Hagemann, CEO and part of Imperial 2014 team, was listed in MIT TechReview annual list of Europe's top 35 Innovators under 35 in 2018. Learn more.
“It’s absolutely amazing to see the iGEM Competition promoting the creation of projects that take the science one step further and make real-life solutions for global problems”
- - Clara Rodriguez Fernandez, reporter Labiotech.eu
iGEM team: University College London 2013
The UCL 2013 iGEM team project, the Darwin toolbox, developed a safe, user friendly, affordable biotechnology laboratory in a 13”x11” box. This later developed into the successful startup Bento Lab.
“The successful reception of their idea and prototype led to further work, and Darwin Toolbox changed into Bento in 2014 in order to better match their ‘mission of supporting open, creative and personal biotech’, which can probably be taken as meaning ‘we’re now a serious start-up
- - Christopher Harrison, synbiobeta
Colorifix exceeded $73M in funding as of 2019
iGEM team: Cambridge 2009
News: Colorifix and Stella McCartney partner on the Victoria & Albert Museum’s ‘Fashioned from Nature’ exhibition in London read more.
iGEMers and iGEM teams involved:
- LI Teng, team leader of Tsinghua 2010
- YIN Jin, instructor of Tsinghua 2010
- ZHANG Haoqian, team leader of Peking 2010
- WANG Xuan, team leader of BNU-China 2014
- JIANG Hao, team leader of USTC 2009
- ZHANG Yihao, team leader of Peking 2015
- LIU Yang, team leader of OUC-China 2012
- GAO Rencheng, team leader of Peking 2009
Team: Edinburgh 2006, Jelena Aleksic