iGEM (international Genetically Engineered Machine Competition) is a non-commercial competition for students from all over the world. It is the most internationally renowned competition in synthetic biology and unique in its form all over the world. Until 2013 the final was held at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in Cambridge, USA. Due to the annually growing number of participants, it was moved to the Hynes Convention Center in Boston in 2014. In 2016, about 300 teams from over 40 countries joined iGEM. In addition to the scientific work, the overall concept is also essential for successful participation. Therefore, the teams have to deal with the different aspects of their project. These include not only benefits for humanity but also compliance with biosecurity standards. Taking into account the responsibility of modern biology, dealing with bioethics is as much a part of the competition as communicating with the general public. In this way, the teams contribute to the public perception of synthetic biology and can also raise awareness for their respective projects.
Synthetic biology is the latest development in the field of modern biology. It combines engineering principles and elements of computer science with organic chemistry, molecular biology and genetic engineering to construct biological systems with novel properties.
By using standardized methods and standardized, freely combinable DNA building blocks, the BioBricks, problem-oriented questions can be solved in a completely new way in biology. All BioBricks are made available to the scientific community free of charge through a freely accessible online database in accordance with the open source concept. This database, the Registry of Standard Biological Parts, contains not only information on the structure of the DNA building blocks, but also practical experience and is constantly growing as a result of its diverse use. By simplifying, standardising and modularising biology and its methodology, synthetic biology has great potential for innovation and research.