Announcing the Winners of the 2018 Opentrons + iGEM Team Challenge!

Introduction

In April, we announced our plans to give away 10 free OT-2 robots to teams in partnership with iGEM. Our goal is to provide students with a new tool for the 2018 competition season and see how it helps with productivity, collaboration, and reproducibility. We are absolutely thrilled that a total of 77 iGEM teams from all over the world responded with amazing applications!!

It was difficult for us to choose only 10 teams - we continue to be impressed by the thoughtfulness, technical savvy, and imagination that iGEMers put into their project proposals. We evaluated teams based on a constellation of factors, including the following:

  • Demonstrated technical capability
  • Commitment to reproducibility
  • Open-source integrations with other hardware and software
  • Impactful projects that make the world a healthier, happier, more ecologically sustainable place
  • Plans to add protocols to the Opentrons Protocol Library for the entire scientific community to use.

Winning teams

After much deliberation and debate, we're pleased to announce the following 10 teams (in no particular order) as winners of this year's Opentrons Team Challenge!

  • Makerere Uganda from Makerere University in Uganda, who will be engineering PET plastic degradation pathways in E. coli to solve the waste accumulation problem in developing urban centers.

  • NCKU Tainan from National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan, who will focus on carbon dioxide sequestration using E. coli (rather than cyanobacteria) in hopes of more quickly mitigating the impacts of industrialization on the environment.

  • SJTU BioX Shanghai from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, who plan to build a device that uses electricity to more precisely control gene expression pathways, giving scientists more fine-grained ability to "program" cells.

  • Newcastle from Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, whose GeneMachine team plans to demonstrate the value of Biodesign Automation (BDA) to the iGEM community by implementing robust Design of Experiments (DoE) methods throughout their project, including optimizing biobricks assembly and characterization.

  • Düsseldorf from Heinrich Heine Universität Düsseldorf in Germany, who plan to create a design and measurement tool for co-cultures in order to enable more effective modeling of biologically engineered systems in context.

  • Marburg from Philipps-Universität Marburg in Germany, who want to explore the possibilities of using fast-growing V. natriegens as a model organism for synthetic biology so that the wet lab can more quickly iterate through robust design-test-build cycles.

  • UIOWA from the University of Iowa in the United States of America, who plan to focus on improving part of the industrial production pathway of bioplastics to enable continued progress towards more sustainable consumption (and also have some cool communications projects in mind)!

  • Queen's Canada from Queen's University in Canada, who plan to focus on engineering a fluorescent biosensor that could, amongst other applications, enable rapid diagnostic testing for metabolic distress in non-verbal individuals.

  • Stony Brook from Stony Brook University in the United States of America, who plan to focus on using directed evolution of S. elongatus to enable its use as a sustainable source of sucrose feedstocks for ethanol biofuel production.

  • Tec-Monterrey from Technològico de Monterrey, Campus Monterrey in Mexico, who plan to explore the potential of using CRISPR/Cas1-Cas2 in DNA data storage applications, with emphasis on making the process more reliable and efficient.

Honorable Mentions

These applicants really put smiles on our faces!!!

ICT Mumbai: Opentrons Saves the Day

iGEM Bielefeld CeBiTec: Human + OT-2

iGEM Stuttgart: A Haiku

Own an OT-2  
far less prone to mess it up  
would be very nice.  

-Eager iGEM Student, OT-2 Haiku, 2018, 4:30 AM local time

Thanks again to all of the amazing teams who applied!

And remember - if you didn't win the challenge this year, your team is still eligible for $2000 off an OT-2 through the end of 2018! Please contact us at competitions@opentrons.com for details on how to take advantage of this special offer.