The MSP-Maastricht team has had a wide variety of collaborations during the 2020 iGEM journey! Here is a short summary on what we have done!

We created the Proceedings Journal Initiative and got 35 teams to write and peer-review articles about their iGEM projects with us! On social media, we had an active presence and hosted, co-hosted and participated in many great projects. We also collaborated with 7 teams on our YouTube channel with both educational and informative videos. In addition, we provided several teams with our expertise in this area and helped them with video editing. We also provided 6 teams with feedback in regards to their surveys, and as an exchange we received help from 3 teams in constructing our survey. Besides our educational youtube videos we had other great educational collaborations, ranging from lectures and podcasts to panel discussions, and workshops. Even with the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, we put effort in hosting and participating in meet-ups with other teams, both online and in-person.


Very early in our project process we set ourselves the goal to create a Proceedings Journal compiling all the projects of the 2020 iGEM competition. For this, we decided to collect research papers of all iGEM teams willing to participate. This journal works exactly like a regular scientific journal, including peer review. This was be a great opportunity for every participating team to train their academic writing and actually get their work published!

We not only created an online Journal, but also a printed version, in which the best papers (rated by the participating teams) were published. All articles were peer-reviewed by other teams that sent in an article. Therefore, all teams are not only the author of a peer-reviewed article, but peer reviewers as well.

In total we collected 42 articles from 35 teams.
IISER-Tirupati, UCPH-Copenhagen, Aachen, IISER Pune, Calgary, Ecuador, Stonybrook, University of Rochester, KU Istanbul, UNIL, UPF Barcelona, Düsseldorf, TU Kaiserslautern, Groningen, Sorbonne Université, Stockholm, Estonia TUIT, MSP-Maastricht, MSP-UM, Tübingen, Thessaly, Manipal BioMachines, MIT, Nottingham, UNAMBG, GA State SW Jiaotong, IISER Bhopal, UPCH (Peru), Nantes, Baltimore BioCrew, UULM, Ciencias UNAM, Aalto-Helsinki, UCL, TUDelft.

A big thank you to all the teams that participated and made this collaboration possible. All these teams put in an incredible effort and showed amazing dedication to not only create a proper scientific article, but also to learn and to peer review on a professional level. For more information on the exact content, audience, aims, format and framework of the Proceedings journal please check out this side on our wiki.



At the beginning of July, we attended the meet-up by Team Marburg and several other German teams. At the meet-up we took part in the video competition hosted by GASB, the German association for synthetic biology, receiving second place. Additionally, we presented our project in the poster session, introduced our Journal initiative to panel attendees and attended workshops given by other teams.
Attending the German meet-up also allowed us to learn about a few of the iGEM projects going on outside of the Netherlands, and we got the opportunity to build new friendships and collaborations with the Aachen and Nantes iGEM teams. We hope to stay in contact with our friends in Aachen.


From the 31st of July until the 1st of August our team attended the All India iGEM online meet-up after being invited by the team IISER Bhopal, with which we had collaborated before. We had a lot of fun and especially enjoyed the poster sessions where we gained an insight into the diverse and interesting projects from teams from all over India.


In times like these, it is quite difficult to bond with other teams the way you would in a normal year. Seeing each other physically just creates a sense of togetherness, and luckily we had a team right next door. The German team from Aachen is just 20 km away from Maastricht, and over the course of 4 months we developed a close relationship with them. We followed all safety regulations of both the Netherlands and Germany, and managed to organize 3 meetings with them, one hosted by us, one by team Aachen and one shared. Before meeting with team Aachen we did not have any other in person meet-up with any other team, therefore, our first meet-up was something special and we took good care making the best out of it.

In our first meeting, which took place in Maastricht, we presented our projects to each other, received and gave feedback on the different aspects of our projects and grew closer during team building activities organized by our team. Furthermore, we organized a city tour for team Aachen through our lovely city, filmed a Youtube video for our Youtube channel called ‘Geneducation’ and held a marketing workshop to build our skill sets.

Moreover, we also tried to broaden our horizon and therefore team Aachen invited 3 presenters to talk about their field of study and work. Thank you very much to:

• Michael Osthege, PhD student, Presentation topic: “Data Analysis with Python – from assay analysis to advanced statistics”
• Morten van Schie, Post.Doc, Presentation topic: „Biocatalysis“.
• Niklas Tenhaef, Post.Doc., Presentation topic: “Lab automation, ALE and Weimberg-Pathway”

About one month after the first meet-up, team Aachen and team Maastricht came together again, this time to focus less on the science side of our projects but more the Human practices, science communication, and social aspects. This meet-up was organized by team Aachen, who welcomed us with a city rally, before inviting us to the collective incubator to work together to improve our Outreach and Human Practices efforts.

We discovered that even though our teams are involved in very different projects, we could still learn from each other and help each other to grow and expand. With the common goal of spreading awareness about our projects and about synthetic biology in general, we saw eye to eye and intense discussions erupted. We had many great take-aways from the discussions and we hope team Aachen did too.

Additionally to the team discussions and presentations, we again had speakers from different fields, like Benjamin Heidt, who talked about how to run your own business and Florian Kroh who talked about the Entrepreneurship Centre Aachen. Lastly, we learned more about video editing from Christian Hartmann, which we immediately implemented when editing our YouTube videos. The meet-up was a great success and immediately after we already started planning for a next meet-up to complete our amazing meet-up trilogy.

The last meeting between Aachen and us was a ‘Covid-19 Hackathon’ where we tried to develop a point of care COVID test device. We spent a whole day in Aachen working together to create a solution for the current pandemic situation.

Covid-19 has not only affected us personally, but it has also affected the iGEM competition; and we, team MSP-Maastricht and Aachen decided that it was time to brainstorm for ideas how to find solutions for the current situation.

Our end goal of this Hackathon was to develop a point-of-care quick test for SARS-CoV-2. To achieve this, we first had some introductory lectures given by members of team Aachen about SARS-CoV-2 and current diagnostic tests used, like ELISA and PCR. Based on the knowledge we gained from those lectures, we brainstormed in small groups how we could develop a feasible, reliable and overall point of care test, which would be able to determine the disease status of the person non-invasively, just from the virus concentration in the saliva. We wanted to make testing for the virus available to everyone, simplify it and reduce the need of laboratory equipment and chemicals. The hardware that seemed very promising to fulfil our requirements was mircofluidic systems. Therefore in a second workshop given by our supervisor, we learned to work with the free to use CAD software ‘Fusion360’ to be able to create our microchip concepts in a 3D form model. Additionally, a lecture about how to program electrical heating and pumping systems with ‘Arduino-gadgets’ given by a member from team Aachen, helped us to further expand our knowledge concerning the creation of a microfluidic diagnostic tool.

After the lectures and workshops, we worked in small groups, mixed from team Aachen and Maastricht and with different scientific backgrounds to foster learning and creativity. The final result of the 9 hour hackathon were 5 amazing concepts of novel detection mechanisms for Covid 19, which are described in these short videos.


In October we attended the Canadian meet up and had a short talk about our project to bring attention to how synthetic biology can solve local challenges all around the world.


In October, we presented our project in the Local challenges panel hosted by team Leiden. We presented our project which solves a problem specifically designed for the region we are from to the general public and provided insight in how synthetic biology can help solve local problems.


A common goal shared by almost all iGEM teams is to promote synthetic biology to the general public and share their knowledge and synthetic biology solutions for the current problems with the world. We found multiple teams that wanted to share our experience and projects with the world together.

MRIIRs-MSP Workshop

Together with team MRIIRS_FARIDABAD we organized a workshop about environmental consciousness for primary children in a school in India. Both the MRIIRS_FARIDABAD team and us are tackling a big environmental issue in our respective communities and we wanted to spread awareness for these environmental issues, starting with the children.


In October we were invited by team Leiden to be a speaker at their online symposium on how international iGEM teams have taken on the challenge to tackle global and local issues using synbio, to highlight the myriad of applications that synthetic biology can address. We were excited to speak at the panel and raise awareness for the oak processionary caterpillar problem in our refuge and our plan to solve the problem with the help of synthetic biology.


In October, we held a zoom lecture organized by MSP’s student association’s academic committee. We presented our project, the iGEM foundation and the iGEM competition to students from our program. With this lecture, we tried to raise awareness about the OPC and, of course, to share our enthusiasm about synthetic biology and the holistic project approach in order to motivate fellow students to become a member of next year's MSP iGEM team.


The team collaborated with iBowu China, who publish educational podcasts on the Chinese platform Ximalaya on a regular basis. Team MSP created podcasts about OakShield, the iGEM competition and synthetic biology in general. As the team from iBowu China mainly produces their podcasts in Chinese language, considering the target audience, we tried to keep our podcasts on a rather easy level of English.


When it comes to collaborating with other iGEM teams for the purpose of education our Youtube collaborations need to be mentioned. At the very beginning of this year's competition we decided that we wanted to create a YouTube channel that educates people of all ages on genetics, synthetic biology, iGEM and most importantly our project. But we did not want to just share our experience and knowledge, but also help other teams to raise awareness for their project and talk about what is important for them in the field of synthetic biology. Therefore, we invited the teams: Nantes, BOKU-Vienna, Aachen, Leiden, IISER_Berhampur, IISER_Bhopal and Stockholm to create videos together with us and post them on our Youtube channel to serve as eductional material for our viewers.



In the beginning of May, our team hosted an online treasure hunt challenge on Instagram. It consisted of five word searches, each of them having a different theme. The topics of the quests were countries, desserts, tv shows, the periodic table and sports. It was one of the first collaborations we hosted and used this as an opportunity to create a base for the future collaborations we hosted, co-hosted or participated. Our goal when creating this creative challenge was to try and provide some fun and aimed to destress the teams in these complicated times of COVID-19. In total, ten iGEM teams participated; and the winners were announced on our Instagram by a live lottery session. In order to stay in line with the fun factor of the challenge, we decided to make everyone a winner. However, one of the teams was awarded with a guaranteed spot in the printed version of our iGEM proceedings journal. The nine other teams won a video collaboration, of which we posted the videos on our YouTube channel.


The MSP-Maastricht team participated in the Instagram scientific-art challenge, which aimed to engage students to find new hobbies during COVID-19 outbreak.


As part of UULM’s initiative of iGEM Explore, we have created a cartoon powerpoint in order to explain our project in a fun way with the help of visuals.

iJET with Aachen and

In May we participated in the iJET challenge hosted by the teams Darmstad and Aachen. The aim of the collaboration was to show that all iGEM teams around the world are connected, which was represented by a paper plane that was sent from one team to the next in a video series.

Sign language collaboration

BITS Goa reached out to us and challenged us to become part of their Sign language challenge. The aim of this challenge was to make the iGEM experience more accessible to deaf people, by displaying a few commonly used phrases in ASL for a more inclusive Giant Jamboree experience.

15 Seconds Video

In July we were challenged by the team from TU Delft to take part in a short video compilation of what iGEM teams are doing around the world to show people how many problems can be tackled through SynBio! For this challenge we recorded a short 10 seconds video, explaining the problem we are solving and the way we are doing this.

BITS Goa India
Humans of IGEM

In August we participated in an interview with team BITS Goa about our iGEM experience, to be featured on their instagram. The purpose of their collaboration was to show the world the incredible people who make iGEM what it is. We joined them as they connected, shared, and built bonds one story at a time.


This challenge aims to promote the sustainable development goals amongst the iGEM teams.


Surveys help iGEM teams get reliable feedback from a broad audience.
We were very happy to support iGEM teams by filling in their surveys. We filled in surveys from: BGU-Israel (WIPEOUT), Technion-Israel, BITS Goa iGEM team, Cornelli (Email), team ECUST from China and King's College London. Then we asked the teams from Rotterdam (dropped out), BGU-Israel (WIPEOUT) and Technion-Israel to review and revise our survey meant for the general public in our local community. A big thank you to these teams for their input and efforts.


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