Announcing the WINNERS of the 2019 Opentrons + iGEM Team Challenge!

Opentrons has renewed our commitment to putting low-cost, open-source, easy-to-use automation into the hands of synthetic biology students all over the world through our partnership with iGEM. These are the 10 teams who won free OT-2 robots to power their projects for the 2019 competition season!

In April, we announced our renewed commitment to putting low-cost, open-source, easy-to-use automation into the hands of synthetic biology students all over the world through our partnership with iGEM. As an iGEM startup and a champion of open science, our goal is to enable iGEMers to engineer biology through repeatable practices, close collaboration, and robust, shareable automated methods. We are absolutely thrilled that a total of 90 iGEM teams from 29 countries responded to our challenge with amazing applications!

It was tough for us to choose only 10 teams to receive free OT-2 robots - we continue to be impressed by the thoughtfulness, technical savvy, and imagination that iGEMers pour into their projects. We evaluated each proposal based on a constellation of factors, including the following:

  • Demonstrated technical capability
  • Commitment to reproducibility and good measurement practices
  • Plans for the development of open-source hardware or software
  • Commitment to collaboration and sharing, particularly through protocols that can be shared with the scientific community through the Opentrons Protocol Library.
  • Impactful projects that seek to make the world a healthier, happier, more ecologically sustainable place for all of its inhabitants

Winning teams

After much deliberation (and fierce internal debate), we're pleased to announce the following 10 teams -- in no particular order -- as the winners of the 2019 Opentrons Team Challenge! 🤖🌍

  • CU from Cairo University in Egypt, who aim to develop sustainable microbial and cell-free desalination systems in order to help provide Egypt's growing population with safe drinking water.

  • Victoria Wellington from Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, who hope to create an efficient, safe, and sustainable enzymatic fuel cell by engineering E. coli to overexpress enzymes of interest and improve their function.

  • OUC China from the Ocean University of China, who are working to create modularized riboswitches so that gene expression in engineered systems can be more easily tuned and regulated.

  • Leiden from Leiden University in the Netherlands, who want to express suckerin proteins from Humboldt squid in E. coli and use them to create versatile, flexible and strong new biomaterials.

  • ITESO Guadalajara from Universidad Jesuita de Guadalajara in Mexico, who hope to improve the photosynthetic activity of cyanobacteria, with the aim of increasing their ability to sequester atmospheric carbon and produce economically valuable metabolic intermediates.

  • Lethbridge from University of Lethbridge in Canada, who aim to develop a recombinant insulin-producing algae strain that can be dehydrated and consumed orally. This could provide a viable, low-cost and readily-available alternative to current insulin manufacturing and delivery methods.

  • UC Davis from the University of California Davis in the United States, who plan to expand the foundational tools available for mammalian synthetic biology, both by thoroughly studying and characterizing the existing promoters in the iGEM distribution kit and by adding new parts to enable effective engineering of mammalian systems.

  • TU Delft from TU Delft in the Netherlands, who are focused on designing a novel in-vivo orthogonal replication and transcription platform which could enable more efficient directed evolution in a wide range of bacterial species.

  • NUS Singapore from the National University of Singapore, who are hoping to extend the productive lifespan of E. coli to improve its effectiveness in the biomanufacturing of engineered proteins.

Congratulations to all of these teams - we can’t wait to see what they’ll accomplish during the 2019 competition season!

Thanks again to all of the amazing teams who applied!

Every one of the iGEM teams who responded to the Opentrons Team Challenge really put smiles on our faces. We've learned so much from you already, and can't wait to cheer each and every one of you on at the Giant Jamboree!

Remember - if you didn't win the challenge this year, your team is still eligible for a BIG DISCOUNT - $2000 off an OT-2 through 2019 competition season! We hope you'll join our growing community of automated iGEM teams. Please contact us at for details on how to take advantage of this special offer.

For any questions about our selection process and Opentrons' partnership with iGEM, please contact