Starting a Team
Starting a team in iGEM can seem daunting at first. There are several things you need to consider before starting a team; here are some guidelines to help you get started.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact iGEM Headquarters for more information by emailing us at hq AT igem DOT org. We will be happy to hear from you!
Read the Competition Requirements
There are general requirements that you must follow in order to take part in iGEM. There are also specific requirements depending on which track you wish to participate in.
You can read the detailed requirements on our 2018 Competition Hub.
There are five topics covered under competition requirements in detail: Team Requirements, Competition Registration, Rules of Conduct, Competition Deliverables, and Track Selection. Pay special attention to the eight competition deliverables and their deadlines.
Pro-tip: Make sure that your team has covered all aspects of the requirements, deliverables and deadlines, as some aspects may be very important to know before starting to plan your project. For example, before you even begin planning your project, you should make sure that you understand the submission requirements for parts. Your parts must be compatible with the BioBrick standard described in RFC 10, and delivered in the pSB1C3 backbone.
Recruit the Team
To compete in iGEM, you will need to form a team! You can find more details about team roles and requirements here. Here are some of the most common questions we get about team composition:
How many students do we need?
There is no upper limit on the number of students in an iGEM team. We recommend creating a team of around 8 - 15 people with different backgrounds who can enrich the team.
Can more than one school be in one team?
Two or more schools can get together to form a single team. This allows a team to combine different backgrounds and talents to enrich the overall project.
Is there an age restriction?
There is no age restriction for participating in iGEM. However, be aware that the age of student team members affects the assignment of undergraduate, overgraduate sections.
How many Instructors do we need?
You need at least two instructors to be part of your team, and one of them must be a faculty member. For high school teams, one of your instructors must be a high school teacher.
We recommend including team members from different academic backgrounds, ranging from biology and chemistry to mechanical engineering, industrial design, and philosophy. We also recommend creating an ethnically- and gender-diverse team, with strong representation of women and non-binary members.
While there are no regulations about how to assign team roles, we recommend that all students have opportunities to try many different types of work during the project: modeling, human practices, bench work, design, presentation, etc. For more, see the Diversity Committee's recommendations for creating a well-rounded and diverse team.
You may also want to find team advisors or mentors, e.g. previous iGEMers, graduate students in the lab for technical support. If there are none around you, you may be interested in signing up for the mentorship program.
Find a Space
Teams need a space in which to work during the summer. You may want to:
Ask your instructors if they have lab space over the summer.
Your team may want to start setting up dedicated lab space for your team this year and in future years.
See if the department has free lab space.
Make sure that in addition to benches and equipment, you also have a space for meetings, relaxing, eating, sleeping, etc.
Fees to Consider
There are two main fees to be submitted during the competition season.
More information can be found on the registration page.
Your team will also incur other costs during the season that you will need to consider. See our page on funding.
The Team Registration Fee
In order to participate in iGEM 2018, a general team registration fee must be submitted. Registration for the competition is now open.
The Jamboree Attendance Fee
This fee is paid by each individual who wishes to attend the Giant Jamboree. At least one student member must attend to present the project, and the whole team is encouraged to come. However, it is not a requirement for the entire team to attend.
Be prepared to work hard and have lots of fun! iGEM is not easy but it is worth it!
The best way to see what the next months will have in store for your team is to look at other projects. You can take a look at team wikis from previous years here or you can read the 2015 annual review at this link.
You can also get an idea of what to expect throughout the season in our Navigating iGEM section.
If you wish to submit your advice or other resources that might be helpful for future teams, please send an email to hq AT igem DOT org.