International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition

iGEM Foundation

The International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of synthetic biology, education and competition, and the development of an open community and collaboration.


The iGEM competition also promotes strong values in the teams. Students are expected to be honest with their research, cooperate with one another, practice good sportsmanship, be respectful of their peers and celebrate everyone's efforts. The team the best embodies these values them receives the Chairman's Award and the respect of all the community.

The iGEM values are:

  • Integrity
  • Good sportsmanship
  • Respect
  • Honesty
  • Celebration
  • Cooperation
  • Effort
  • Excellence

Chairman's Award

The Chairman's Award is presented to the team which best embodies the iGEM values.

The first ever Chairman’s Award in iGEM was given to Team Sumbawagen.
This team did not let anything stop them from participating in iGEM to the greatest extent possible.

The Sumbawagen team comes from Sumbawa, Indonesia. Sumbawa is an island famous for its honey. The team wanted to address a major problem in their community: the counterfeiting or adulteration of honey. Through a bacterial system, they would create a device able to detect if a sample was genuine Sumbawa honey or some imported product.

The team enrolled in the Measurement track and despite lacking a fluorometer they wrote to the Measurement committee saying, “We really want to be in the measurement track, but there is no fluorometer we can use.” So instead they used their own camera system and documented the process. The outcome was one of the most beautiful reports of a negative result; a well documented, precise measure on how “you cannot measure green fluorescence with this camera system.”

Sumbawa was hit by rolling power outages during wiki freeze but this didn’t stop the team. Their hard work and perseverance can be seen throughout their website. It is also clear on their wiki how they reached out to their community in every step of the way. In their Policy and Practices video you can see them teaching farmers how to pipette, and the excitement of the farmers as biotechnology is coming to their corner of the Pacific. You can also watch the local Mayor and the Chief of Police getting involved helping them out and the Imam and the Priest give their blessing to genetic engineering.

This team humbled the whole iGEM community.
Randy Rettberg presented the Chairman’s Award and Jake Beal, the measurement track chair, completed the Sumbawagen story. He spoke with the team and he mentioned during the Awards Ceremony, one of the phrases mentioned by a team member was: “We are new, but we know that we will succeed because we have great heart.”

Congratulations! Team Sumbawagen!