Startups

International Genetically Engineered Machine

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.

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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

Labster exceeded $34.7M in funding as of 2019
iGEM team: DTU Denmark 2009

Benchling exceeded $27.4M in funding as of 2019
iGEM team: MIT-Entrepreneurship 2012

Eligo Bioscience exceeded $22.9M in funding as of 2019
iGEM team: Liliane Bettencourt 2010

Hyasynth Bio exceeded $11.6M in funding as of 2019
iGEM team: Queens Canada 2012

Asimov exceeded $4.7M in funding as of 2019
iGEM team: Washington 2008

LabGenius exceeded $3.7M in funding as of 2019
iGEM team: Imperial College London 2011
News: Labgenius on 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.

PILI exceeded 2.5M EUR in funding as of 2019
iGEM teams: Paris 2007 and Evry 2012

Allevi (previously BioBots) exceeded $1.6M in funding as of 2019
iGEM team: Penn 2013

Experiment.com (formerly Microryza) exceeded $1.2M in funding as of 2019
iGEM teams: Washington 2010 and Washington 2011

SynBioBeta
iGEM team: Brown 2006

Amplino

Team: Amplino Entrepreneurship 2012 (Erasmus University, Rotterdam)

Bluepha

iGEMers and iGEM teams involved:

Gene Adviser

Team: Edinburgh 2006, Jelena Aleksic

Synbiota

(Genomikon, a former iGEM team company from team Alberta 2010, merged with Synbiota)

Upcycled Aromatics

Team: Alberta Entrepreneurship 2012