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International Genetically Engineered Machine

Winners Announced for iGEM's 2019 Premier Synthetic Biology Innovation Competition

International student teams bring home grand prize nominations and awards to Canada, China, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland and Taiwan.

BOSTON - Nov. 8, 2019 - iGEM, the pioneering organization of synthetic biology, announced the winners of its annual international student competition at the iGEM 2019 Giant Jamboree, the largest synthetic biology innovation event in the world.

The Giant Jamboree is the culminating event of iGEM's annual synthetic biology innovation competition for collegiate and high school students. Each year, thousands of participants from around the globe explore unique applications of synthetic biology and build solutions that offer positive contributions to their communities and society at large. More than 40,000 people have participated in iGEM since it began in 2003.

Of 353 participating teams, 163 Gold, 77 Silver, and 57 Bronze medals were awarded, with dozens more awards recognizing excellence for projects tackling global challenges, including climate change, plastic pollution, sustainable agriculture, human health, and more. View results for the 2019 iGEM competition on

"iGEM is about local people solving local problems everywhere in the world, and we see that in the projects that iGEMers do," said Randy Rettberg, co-founder and President of iGEM. "We see there were problems iGEMers saw that some venture person in Silicon valley would never pay attention to, but for iGEMers, in their environment and in their world, those were important."

As part of the competition, participants engage with their local communities to explore ethical, legal, social, economic, safety and security implications of their projects. These considerations are crucial for building safe and responsible projects that serve the public interest and set the standards for the entire synthetic biology industry.

About the Winners


  • Grand Prize: NCKU Tainan (Taiwan) for developing a comprehensive approach to chronic kidney disease, including tools for measuring p-Cresol levels and reducing p-Cresol production.
  • 1st Runner-Up: Calgary (Canada) for engineering a biological system to replace environmentally-detrimental methods for removing chlorophyll from canola oil.
  • 2nd Runner-Up: TU Kaiserslautern (Germany) for creating a biological recycling method for PET, a major plastic component, integrated within waste management and water treatment centers to eliminate plastic pollution.


  • Grand Prize: EPFL (Switzerland) for introducing a field-deployable test enabling farmers to detect plant diseases and save crop loss, while reducing pesticide use.
  • Runner-Up: Wageningen UR (Netherlands) for developing a biological solution for devastating plant pathogens threatening olive trees and grapevines.

High School:

  • Grand Prize: Great Bay SZ (China) for biosynthesis of colored spider silk, a material with applications in medicine, textiles, and aerospace fields.

About iGEM
iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization that pioneered the synthetic biology industry and continues to advance the field through education, competition and industry collaboration. iGEM's annual student competition is the largest synthetic biology innovation program and a launchpad for the industry's most successful leaders and companies. The competition empowers thousands of local people to solve local problems around the world by engineering biology for safe and responsible solutions. The After iGEM program supports the competition's 40,000+ participants in their future endeavors to continue leading and setting the standards for synthetic biology on an international level. iGEM's community is comprised of students, leaders, investors, influencers and policymakers who continue to work toward a strong, responsible and visionary synthetic biology industry. For more information, visit

Source: iGEM