The iGEM Competition began in 2003 as an independent study course at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). This course became a summer competition with 5 teams in 2004 and continues to grow each year, with 310 teams in 2017. Since 2012 it is organized by the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Foundation. The iGEM Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of synthetic biology, education and competition, as well as the development of an open community built on collaboration.
This competition gives students the opportunity to explore the limits of synthetic biology by facing challenges of modern times. Groups of students from all over the world are looking for solutions to problems, such as global warming, cancer treatment, or disease diagnosis, by broadening the boundaries of nature; they use the tools of synthetic biology to create innovative microorganisms with new properties that will form the foundation of the solution to the problem. In addition to the laboratory research, each group is invited to engage in public engagement actions, in order to introduce the topic to the local community. All these actions, whether scientific or not, are presented on a wiki page.
Every year nearly 6,000 people from over 45 countries dedicate their summer on iGEM and then
come together in autumn to exhibit their work and compete at the annual Jamboree, which is held
This year's iGEM 2018 Competition took place on October 25-28.