iGEM is not only a competition, but an opportunity for young scientists from all over the world to exchange ideas and iGEM Kaiserslautern has always celebrated that aspect of the competition – for example with attending Meetups, or hosting Collaboration Meetings about Chlamy. In relation to the Covid19-pandemic and restrictions that came with it at the beginning of the iGEM season, we were unsure on whether we would get the opportunity to connect with other iGEM teams in the ways we had enjoyed so much in the previous years. Luckily our worries were dissolved fairly quickly. We originally met with iGEM Bonn to give them advice on sponsoring issues, but we quickly came to the decision to create a deeper collaboration.
We started our first Collaboration in March, planning our first event – the German Meetup – together and we immediately got along. During our almost weekly meetings throughout the iGEM season besides planning several Social Outreach projects (read more about this: Collaborations), we discussed the competition and the progress on our projects. Since those projects were very different, we were always fascinated to hear about iGEM Bonns work and their efforts to improve Rare-Earth-Element extraction.
It allowed us once again to appreciate the width and manifoldness of the field of biotechnology in general and the diverse solutions iGEM provides for all kinds of challenges specifically. On the other hand, these differences in our projects made it difficult for us to collaborate with iGEM Bonn in the Laboratory. Regardless, we exchanged protocols for certain specific steps in our processes, like the Western blot and conversed about our experiences.
Our variable means of communication with one another, including direct contact via WhatsApp and a common discord server, allowed for an easy and smooth communication and we used those means to remind and advice each other on competition deliverables, guidelines as well as to exchange about our collaboration progress and how to proceed. A good example for this is the promotion video, during the production of which we supported each other when both of our teams faced problems while uploading the subtitles. Furthermore, one of Bonn's Spanish Speaking team members translated our subtitles to Spanish therefore allowing us to reach a broader audience.
Apart from our communication and time invested into the competition we also met up privately at an online teambuilding event during which we played games available online. Regardless of our regret of not having been able to meet in person with iGEM Bonn yet, we are grateful to have had a partner during this very different iGEM season to reach out to in case of difficulties and challenges and be likewise able to provide support. Our special thanks go to iGEM Bonn for their hard work, creativity, cordiality and team spirit.