Starting an iGEM Team
Starting a team in iGEM can seem daunting at first. 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!
1. 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 team kind you wish to register as, or what project track you want to participate in. You can read the detailed requirements on our 2021 Competition Hub.
Make sure that your team has reviewed all aspects of the requirements, deliverables and deadlines, as some aspects may be very important to know before starting to plan your project.
2. Recruit the Team
To compete in iGEM, you will need to form a team! 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. Just make sure that all participants are on the Team Roster.
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 one instructor to be part of your team, and this individual must be a faculty member. For high school teams, your instructor must be a high school teacher or principal. Read more about Team Roles.
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 (more information coming soon).
3. Find Space
Teams need a space in which to work during the season. 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.
High School teams can:
- Ask your instructor and school principal if you can work in the school laboratory
- Ask about using space at a nearby college/university
- Ask a nearby biotech company if they have extra space
4. Fees to Consider
There are two main fees to be submitted during the competition season.
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
$5500 USD per team
In order to participate in iGEM 2021, a general team registration fee must be submitted. Team registration is open! Learn more.
The Giant Jamboree Fee
The format of the Giant Jamboree in 2021 is still unknown, but it is a topic we are actively working on at iGEM HQ, and we will be sure to notify teams as soon as the format is confirmed. If the Jamboree will be virtual, the fee will be charged per team at the Regular Registration rate starting at $2500 per team. If the Jamboree will be in-person, the fee will be charged per attendee. The in-person fee is TBD. More information coming soon.
5. Find inspiration
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, project promotion videos here, or you can read the most recent annual review at this link.
Check out the Phoenix Project: Beta - A new tool for browsing previous iGEM Projects! igem.org/phoenix ⇗
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.