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We can learn from each other! Read below to see who we worked with.

Collaboration is the process of people working together towards a common goal. The iGEM Uppsala team and many other teams around the world have collaborated through projects such as, COPI, The Postcard Project, lab-related projects such as Generation Mendel and the Edinburgh Collaborative manual as well as virtual events like The Nordic iGEM Conference, Nordic Ethics workshop and our own event From Paper to Reality. Through these collaborations, we were able to participate in problem-solving and share our experiences whilst bringing teams together.


When the WHO recognized COVID-19 as a pandemic on the 11th of March 2020, it became clear that the iGEM competition would undergo some drastic changes.

In order to keep motivation high and remain united with the iGEM community, the iGEM Uppsala Association and iGEM Uppsala 2020 team developed the Corona Outreach Program Initiative (COPI) on Instagram. The goal was to connect with other iGEM teams through the spirit of synthetic biology during an uncertain and worrisome time.

Teams from all over the world shared their experiences regarding how their countries, lives and projects were affected. In total 12 teams from 10 different countries contributed with their stories through Instagram. In this way, COPI raised awareness of the tremendous effect the pandemic had in different parts of the world, as some teams no longer could participate in the competition at all, and others drew inspiration from it to create a project. Many teams discussed the difficulty in adapting to online communication and shared solutions on how they maintained team activities and bonding online. Various team experiences and ways to cope with the ongoing pandemic were brought forth through COPI, also showing that despite drastic changes, the iGEM spirit remained strong.

Thank you to all the teams that collaborated and shared their experiences and thoughts; iGEM Osiris, iGEM NCKU Tainan, iGEM UNSW, iGEM Bolivia, iGEM USP-Brazil, iGEM Chalmers Gothenburg, iGEM DTU Biobuilders, iGEM Leiden, iGEM GO Paris Saclay, iGEM OUC, iGEM Marburg and iGEM CCU.

The Postcard Project

The iGEM Postcard Project was arranged by the iGEM Düsseldorf 2020 Team, where the idea was to exchange postcards among participating teams from all over the world. The postcard itself was self-designed and reflected synthetic biology or something related to your iGEM project. We decided to partake in this collaboration as a fun way to connect with other teams through a way of communication that is not as common these days.

For the front of our postcard we represented our cellular detection system NANOFLEX as a body scanner at an “Uppsala airport” and the passengers as different bacteria containing detectable molecules. The stop light is of course blue as it would be in our system when beta-galactosidase changes the color of the media to indicate the presence of a particular molecule. The airport security employee is “B” for Bacillus subtilis representing the cell that would perform the detection in our final system. On the back of the postcard there is an ode to NANOFLEX over one of our team pictures in front of the Uppsala castle. See the postcard below!

50 of these postcards were sent to iGEM Team Düsseldorf in Germany, who then sent back 50 postcards from the other participating teams, see the banner at the top of the page! This collaboration was a fun and unique way to present our project and definitely made us think outside the box. Besides creating our own postcard, the best part of this collaboration was also learning about other teams and their projects in a creative way.

Nordic iGEM Conference

We participated in the Nordic iGEM Conference (NiC); an annual event for the Nordic iGEM teams. This year's NiC was a one-day virtual meet-up, arranged by Linköping and Stockholm iGEM teams. The day was filled with rewarding guest lecturers covering phage display and protein design and folding. Additionaly, we introduced our projects to one another and had the event finished off with an engaging game night.

Nordic Ethics Workshop

The Aalto-Helsinki iGEM team arranged a Nordic Ethics Workshop focusing on biosensors, which we participated in together with Copenhagen, Stockholm and Trondheim iGEM teams. The event was divided into two parts: the first part about troubleshooting the usage of biosensors and the second part was an ethics workshop. The ethics workshop covered several issues including, disposal of biosensors, risks of using GMOs, guidelines for end-users, questions regarding who will benefit and who might be opposed to the project and lastly the public’s perception of GMO. The discussions regarding these topics were highly rewarding and gave us many insights.

From Paper to Reality

In our virtual symposium From Paper to Reality we had the opportunity to collaborate with the iGEM teams Aalto-Helsinki and Stockholm. In relation to biosensors, lecturers gave us insight on product development and how to sucessfully promote one's product and idea. We were able to discuss and give each other comprehensive feedback on project pitching and Life Cycle Assessment. You can learn more about this event on our Education page.

Generation Mendel Czech Team Collaboration

B. subtilis is not a commonly used chassis in the iGEM community (yet!). So, team Uppsala 2020 and Generation Mendel – an iGEM team from Brno University, in Czech Republic – decided to collaborate, as both teams were working with the same organism. We held several meetings to discuss about our experience, successes and shortcomings.

Also, to encourage future iGEM teams to work with B. subtilis, Generation Mendel thought about assembling a handbook, and invited us for a collaboration! Together, we agreed upon a structure for the book. Both teams joined efforts to assemble theoretical overviews and protocols, as well as tips and tricks, to help you get started with your future B. subtilis projects. You can find the handbook to the right, as well as in the Generation Mendel website. Go check it out!

Edinburgh Collaborative Manual

The Edinburgh team prepared a Collaborative Manual which aims to provide best practices, guidelines, standards and useful tips for iGEM teams working on biosensors that detect micro/macro molecules, design detection systems and/or create test kits. We participated by adding the “Implementation of Safety Rules in the Lab and Adjacent Facilities” and “How to Make a Successful 5 Minute/Elevator Pitch” sections. See more on their webpage!