Team:Ionis Paris/Events

The European Experience

The concept of the European Experience 2016 was both simple and bold: two teams would work together in order to organize in Paris the gathering of most of the iGEM 2016 European teams.

It all started during the brainstorming sessions of our team. We talked about the previous editions of the iGEM competition, and realized that, if America or Asia had regional meetups every year, Europe didn’t have one since the end of the « official » iGEM regional meetups system. We therefore had the idea, for the first time in the history of the iGEM, to organize a big event of our own. We also wanted to make this event a collaborative project with another iGEM team. That is why we worked with the Evry iGEM team to carry out the project.

The event, named The European Experience 2016, aimed to bring together European iGEM teams in order to:

  • Share our iGEM experience / adventures (successes, failures, issues, knowledge, human experiences...)

  • Create partnerships and strengthen the bonds between the attending teams

  • Train the pitch and presentation skills in order to prepare to the Boston Giant Jamboree

  • To discover the projects of other teams

  • Allow a cultural exchange and the discovery of Paris, the City of Light

  • Increase the general knowledge about Synthetic Biology through conferences and events

  • From fun around a student party only iGEM

  • The European Experience Project

    Three people from the Marketing part of the iGEM IONIS team were working full-time on the European Experience in order to turn our vision into a successful event: Alexandre DOLLET, Jessica MATIAS and Anthony RENODON. Due to the scale of the event, the required work was quite huge, and three people were barely enough. As said before, we were also working with Taman MOUMADHI, Maria BARGUES RIBERA and Alba IGLESIAS from the iGEM Evry team. This collaboration was very proficient, and allowed us to efficiently plan the event. This project has brought us a lot in skills: Project management, retro planning, sponsoring, design, communication, prospecting, contract negotiations. We also learnt how to deal with all kind issues, whether they are financial, technical or human.

    Of course, one of the first things we had to take into account was the financial situation of all the teams: we wanted all the teams to come, and therefore we tried to reduce as much as possible the cost of coming to such an event. Due to the vast amount of flight companies and countries, we couldn’t really do anything about the plane tickets, but we managed to get a deal with a Parisian hotel for the teams who had no idea where to sleep. We set up an online ticketing system to ease things, and were ready to announce our event to the world !

    We announced our event on April the 27th, with a logo designed by Jessica MATIAS, and reached out for every team members we could find on social media. Through this was a lot of work, it proved to be efficient. The Facebook page we created for our event kept getting more and more likes, and we soon started to receive tons of manifestations of interest from all iGEMers. The event was already promising !

    One of our main concerns was the place where the event would be organized at: we had to choose a place that would be able to host everyone, easy to reach, with good places to eat right around the corner, and preferentially in the center of Paris. This seemed like an unsolvable conundrum, until the IONIS group offered us to use one of their building in Parmentier, that was just what we needed ! Even better, we had no charge on using the building. Once this issue addressed, we started looking at how we would organize the place. Fortunately there was a lot of space that we could use. We were given levels 0 and -1, and were able to organize them as we wanted. The place also had a backyard where we would be able to do the coffee break, a rooftop room with a beautiful view for the V.I.Ps, and most importantly a state-of-the-art amphitheater for the conferences. Finding this place was very comforting for us, as we knew we would be able to host our event in the best possible conditions.

    Communication Tool

    As said before, once the event was announced on social websites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the iGEM website) we wanted to have the biggest impact possible on the iGEM Community. We therefore started editing logos and banners, such as the ones you can see below.

    These were posted online, in order to give to the greatest amount of persons possible an access to the essential informations they needed to know. Infographics were also created, to make sure the information was clearly explained for everyone.

    To achieve further communication, we decided to make a quick video teaser about the event to encourage European iGEMers to come. In our video we highlighted the meeting, exchange and Paris.

    Watch the video

    We knew being in a foreign city on their own could be a little bit confusing for the teams, and really wanted to give them a way to orientate themselves. Fortunately, we had the luck to work with two Computer scientists, members of the iGEM IONIS team, that coded an little app we designed: the European Experience Companion App, or EECA for short.

    The EECA is available on both iOS and Android smartphones, and is designed to work offline: as some people may not have an internet access abroad, this feature was absolutely necessary. The app would update itself if any connection was detected, but would otherwise function offline without any problem.

    It featured four main tabs: the first one, the Home tab, included a short description of the teams organizing this event and their projects, along with links to our media pages and e-mail addresses.

    Then comes the « Map » tab: we drew a map of the campus so that every team could know where to go and where to visit « that project I wanted to see » ! The building plans were a bit hard to get access to, but it was eventually worth it, as everyone had a clear understanding of the event’s organization.

    The “Events” tab included a timeline of the Saturday events, with the time and location of each event. It was designed so that everyone could have access to the crucial informations quickly, and know where to be at the right time.

    It also featured three levels of details, the first one being the previously evoked timeline: clicking on a particular event led to more informations about it, such as a description of the conference’s topic. Then, in the case of a conference, clicking on a speaker’s portrait would lead to the speaker’s biography, so that everyone would know easily who the speakers were.

    This tab was designed for the lunch break: we have been scouting the place where the event was organized at in order to find all possible places to eat, and listed them in a special tab.

    All of them were sorted by price range, and featured a link to the restaurant’s website or phone number.We included a few French restaurants, and tried to make everyone happy with their meal ! We even found a gluten-free restaurant, just in case.We also tried to get iGEMers a discount if they showed the app to the restaurant’s managers, but this wasn’t possible.

    Morning presentation

    On Friday, we prepared the event. While some members from both teams were helping the arriving students at their hotel, the others were preparing everything on the site.

    On Saturday, we welcomed people with our banner !

    In total, over 30 teams attended our event, scattered around 11 different countries. More than 170 iGEMers were present !

    To answer this massive amount of people, we planned differents rooms according to the countries with the most teams coming

    In the morning, students arrived and met us in the entrance hall. After receiving a badge displaying their name, team and country of origin they could go downstairs and start installing their stand while enjoying a nice breakfast provided by Paul, one of our sponsors. Paul provided us a wide selection of French cakes and breads that everyone could enjoy. The idea was to make foreign students discover French culture step by step !
    It is with pleasure that we could see during the morning all the projects being presented with passion, exchanges between students and teams, partnerships being forged, friendships getting created … As said by Madeleine Premm, member of the LMU-Munich TUM team: "The event is top and multicultural: we really meet people from different places! Everyone is very outgoing and noone is afraid to ask questions or present his own project, his career, his studies, etc… Each discussion is interesting. The event also allows team building and is also a good workout for the final Jamboree in October: you can practice your English and get used to describe your project ».


    After 3 hours of exchanges and a good meal, everyone ends up in the auditorium for the two round tables.

    Throughout the whole day, the iGEM teams of the world could live The European Experience 2016 on Facebook and Twitter with hashtags #EE16 and #iGEM2016.

    Furthermore, we organized a retransmission of the two conferences on the iGEM IONIS Facebook page, live and free!
    The opening ceremony was led by Paul Indelicato, deputy director of Thierry MANDON’s cabinet, Secretary of State for Higher Education and Research.

    The first thing to know about this symposium is that we wanted to organize an event as much entertaining and sharing as possible. That’s why we planned a main scientific symposium through two roundtables to maximize the exchange between the speakers and the audience.
    Then, we decided to focus our both roundtables about synthetic biology of course. However, we didn’t want to only deal with sciences in a global way.
    That’s why we planned to divide our scientific symposium into two related but different roundtables.

    Round table #1

    Synthetic biology : challenges & risks

    From left to right : Andrew TOLONEN (Research Scientist & Research Professor at Genoscope) Héloïse MULLER (Research Scientist at Institut Pasteur), Christophe GENISSET (Biology project leader at General Secretary of the Defense and the National Security), Alexei GRINBAUM (Research scientist at CEA) and François KEPES (Research director at CNRS & Director of iSSB).

    This conference is here to explain the purpose of Synthetic Biology. Nowadays, it is really important to better understand the challenge of Synthetic Biology. Indeed, it is going to be the future of many fields of expertise. Our 5 different speakers shared with us their own expertise and help us discern the key points of synthetic biology development.

    The first one, named “Synthetic Biology: Challenges & Risks” was dedicated to the academic world. How the synthetic biology environment is ruled in France, but also in Europe or Worldwide. The goal of this roundtable was to identify the purpose of synthetic biology regarding our own development as scientists. We had 5 different speakers that have shared their opinions and experiences with us. It was really an enriching experience for every igemers all over Europe, especially because of the background of the speakers. Indeed, all of them were well known scientist coming from famous French entities and companies all over the world such as CNRS, Pasteur Institute, CEA, and even from the French Government, with the Secretariat of State for Defense and National Security.
    The feedback that we had from the first roundtable was really great, the audience had a lot of questions about the development of synthetic biology and how it would be related in their carriers.

    After all this work, the teams organized a short coffee break
    in the backyard.

    Round table #2

    Synthetic biology : a new economic world

    From left to right  : Michael KREL (CEO EnobraQ), Philippe JAIS (Chief Executive & Scientific Officer at Eukarÿs), Cyrille PAUTHENIER (CEO of Abolis and gold medal at iGEM 2012) and Gilles DEFREL (R&D internship at Glowee and gold medal at iGEM 2015.

    This conference aims at showing the importance of Synthetic Biology in our professional careers. We will look at how much it is attractive and useful to participate to the iGEM competition fo our personal career development.
    Find out the career opportunities that offers the present us their success stories, and explain why & how Synthetic Biology is essential these days.

    The second roundtable, named “Synthetic Biology: A New Economic World” was dedicated to the professional world and to better know what place exactly takes synthetic biology in the biotechnology environment. The goal of this roundtable was to valorize the iGEM experience and to deal with the place of synthetic biology in the professional world through different companies & industries (Environment, Healthcare).
    We had 4 different speakers that have shared their professional lives with the audience, some of them had already participated or was fully aware about the iGEM competition.
    The feedback coming from this roundtable was really successful, especially thanks to the speakers explaining to the audience how relevant it is to participate to that kind of competition for their future carriers. The students from the 11 different countries all over Europe really appreciated all of the tips and advices that gave the speakers during this roundtable. A lot of exchange between the both parties were focused on the patenting process which was a really good topic to deal with because of the lot interrogations of the students.

    The first thing to know about this symposium is that we wanted to organize an event as much entertaining and sharing as possible. That’s why we planned a main scientific symposium through two roundtables to maximize the exchange between the speakers and the audience.
    Then, we decided to focus our both roundtables about synthetic biology of course. However, we didn’t want to only deal with sciences in a global way.
    That’s why we planned to divide our scientific symposium into two related but different roundtables.

    François KEPES
    (Research director at CNRS, founding director of the Epigenomics Project and iSSB)

    François Képès is a cell, systems and synthetic biologist. He is currently modeling and engineering genome architecture in microorganisms. In 1986 as a postdoc he started the first cell-free assay in the group of Randy Schekman, the 2013 Nobel awardee of Medicine. François Képès is a research director at CNRS. He is the founding director of the Epigenomics Project ( Genopole, 2002), an institute of complex studies that is dedicated to the emerging disciplines of Systems an Synthetic Biology (iSSB, 2008). He is an invited Professor at the Department of Bioengineering at Imperial College London. He is a member of the National Academy of Technologies in France. He is the author of over 110 scientific publications and the editor or writer of 20 books. He has organized or chaired each year 3-7 international scientific events. Since 2005, he has been an invited speaker or an organizer for 38 conferences dedicated to synthetic biology. DR. Képès is the editor of 4 international journals, referee for 19 others, and is an expert advisor for European and North-American funding agencies. In 2007, he was the team leader of the first French iGEM team.

    Héloïse MULLER
    (pHD at Institut Pasteur and collaborator at Synthetic Yeast 2.0 project.)

    Héloïse MULLER, post-doctoral student in biology, currently working in spatial regulation team of genomes in the department of genetics and genomes bioinformatique center, Integrative Biology and Biostatistics at the Institut Pasteur. In recent years Héloïse MULLER has been distinguished by participating in the project « Synthetic Yeast 2.0 » alongside Professor Jef BOEKE.
    She has published « Design and synthesis of neochromosomes » on therapeutic/reproductive medecine, gynecology and enocrinology on October 1st, 2015.
    In the Johns Hopkins University, Héloïse MULLER and the Sc2.0 team replaced the entire chromosome 3 of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae by a synthetic genome and completely redesigned in silico.

    Andrew TOLONEN
    (Leader of Tolonen group at the Genoscope-CEA and university professor)

    Andrew TOLONEN studies the systems biology and genetic engineering of environmentally important microbes. His research focuses on Clostridium phytofermentans, an anaerobic bacterium from forest soil that ferments plant biomass to ethanol and hydrogen. He did his PhD in microbial genomics at MIT and his post-doc in the Church lab at Hardvard Medical School.
    Andrew TOLONEN also teaches microbiology and molecular biology undergraduate and graduate classes et the University of Evry and microbial biotechnology in the Evry-Genopole MSSB program. Andrew TOLENEN has been a superadvisor of the Evry iGEM since ti was founded in 2012.

    Christophe GENISSET
    (Security Officer at SGDSN (General Secretary of the Defense and the National Security)

    Christophe GENISSET obtained his Ph.D. in molecular microbiology and biotechnology in 2006 from the University of Provence. The subject of his doctoral thesis was “Structure and function study of Helicobacter pylori VacA toxin”. Before his Ph.D. he has obtained an engineer degree in bio-engineering and applied microbiology from the Luminy engineer high school (ESIL) based in Marseille.
    Christophe GENISSET has worked in the field of molecular biology and vaccinology in several research departments, in Siena (Chiron Spa), Padova (Università degli studi di Padova) and at the Institut Pasteur of Lille. He has worked on vaccine development against Helicobacter pylori and Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
    Between 2007 and 2013, he was a biosafety and a biosecurity inspector working for the ANSM, the French drug agency. He is now working as a biology officer at the SGDSN, the secretariat for defense and national security, a department from the French Prime minister. He is notably in charge of synthetic biology issues.

    Alexei GRINBAUM
    (Researcher at LARSIM, the Philosophy of Science Group at CEA-Saclay)

    Alexei Grinbaum is a physicist and philosopher at LARSIM, the Philosophy of Science Group at CEA-Saclay near Paris. His main interest is in the foundations of quantum theory. He also writes on the ethical and social aspects of emerging technologies, including nanotechnology, robotics, and synthetic biology. He is a member of CERNA, the French ethics committee fo research in information technology. His latest book is « Mécanique des Etreintes » (Paris : Encre Marine, 2014).

    Philippe JAIS
    (Chief Executive & Scientific Officer at Eukarÿs SAS)

    Philipe JAIS, MD, Ph, President and Scientific Director of Eukarÿs has a mixed training : physician and molecular geneticist. As Molecular Geneticist, he completed his Doctorate of Science at INSERM (Paris) and Institut Gustave Roussy (Villejuif, France) with a specialization in molecular genetics of cancer, and the Johns Hopkins (Baltimore, MD) as post-doctoral researcher and finally as Assistant in Molecular and Cellular Biology, Faculty Xavier Bichat (Paris).
    After leaving academia, Philippe Jaïs held various management positions in the Biotechnology Industry (Genset, LFP Biotech, ProteaBio, AzurRx) and pharmaceuticals (Solvay, Abbott, Roche) in research, translational medicine, and genomic biomarkers. In this capacity, he designed and usually managed the early clinical development of five small chemical molecules and three therapeutic proteins. He also invented a large-scale identification of approach to human monogenic diseases treatable by synthetic ligands for nuclear receptors.
    In 2009, he invented the technology C3P3 and then co-founded Eukarÿs. Having assured the Scientific Director responsabilities until early 2014, it combines this function with the Presidence of the company. Philipe JAIS has published over fifty articles, book chapters and abstracts, and is the inventor of nearly a ozen patents.

    Michael KREL
    (CEO EnobraQ)

    Michael joined the Life Sciences team as Senior Associate in 2013 and became CEO of Enobraq in november 2015. Michael focuses on investments in the industrial biotechnology and renewable chemistry sectors.
    Prior to Sofinnova, Michael spent two years as VP Business Development at Deinove, a biotech company developing second generation biofuels and biochemicals. Before that Michael was a Business Development Manager at Metabolic Explorer, a biotech company focused on the development of processes and products in the green chemistry area, where he contributed to the development of projects, particulary in Asia. Michael grduated from Ecole Polytechnique and holds a PhD in organic chemistry from the ICSN (Institut de Chimie des Substances Naturelles) in France.
    Between 2007 and 2013, he was a biosafety and a biosecurity inspector working for the ANSM, the French drug agency. He is now working as a biology officer at the SGDSN, the secretariat for defense and national security, a department from the French Prime minister. He is notably in charge of synthetic biology issues.

    Cyrille PAUTHENIER
    (CEO of Abolis biotechnologies and golden medal at iGEM 2012

    At 26 years old, he struggles to complete his thesis while preparing a fundraiser for several million euros for the company that has just created ...
    This dramatic acceleration of its destiny, Cyrille Pauthenier the assigns a go-getter spirit, supported by a healthy dose of self-confidence.
    The first decisive turn, he takes it in 2011: "I loved chemistry, but not its consequences on the environment. I realized we could do it cheaper and less polluting with synthetic biology by modifying living organisms to produce compounds that we need. "He drops the ENS between synthetic biology master at Evry University, enrolled in the student competition iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine), and then began a PhD at the Institute of Systems Biology synthetic and Jean-Loup Faulon. The economic potential of his subject - a new method of exploitation of yeast in industrial environments - gives him ideas ...
    Why not offer to the pharmaceutical companies, energy or agricultural, to tailor synthetic bacteria strains that would manufacture the compounds they need from renewable resources? This will be Abolish Biotechnologies, which he founded in 2014 with an applied mathematics specialist, Anthony Tschirhard. The company has been honored in the global innovation competition, launched in 2013 by the gouvenement.

    The cocktail

    We concluded the event by having a rooftop cocktail on top of the building. The cocktail, prepared by ourselves, was a V.I.P event in order to thank the speakers for coming. Some professionals were also there, along with some school directors, and of course, the team members !

    This cocktail was the perfect opportunity for us to have more in-depth discussions with the professionals, and we really enjoyed it. Shortly after that, we headed out to the place where the party would be located.

    Partying with the IGEMers

    This party was the pinnacle of our event. We organized it in a dedicated hall, and invited everyone to come ! Some suprises were also planned, such as the retransmission of the Quarterfinals Euro Cup match (Germany vs. Italy), a beautiful balloon ark and even some fire-breathing fun !

    Again, the safety and comfort of everyone was our top priority during the whole event. That is why we managed to get a partnership with Heetch, a French version of Uber, allowing everyone to come safely to the hotel by car for less than 3€ per person.

    Thanks to Heetch, everyone could party all night long, and no one had any issue with the Parisian transportations ! Al the people had to do was to have fun and to call a taxi.

    Visiting Paris

    As Sunday was the day of departure for all the iGEM teams, we wanted to give them some free time to enjoy France in general, and Paris in particular. However, we thought it would be nice for those who wanted it to have the occasion to discover the city with their fellow iGEMers, and we therefore organized a set of tours for everyone to enjoy ! Led by the Evry students, these tours were centered about some specific areas of Paris, such as the Jardins du Luxembourg and the Museum of Natural History.

    Feedback from social media


    Festival Vivant is an initiative of the European project Synenergene.

    "Living bodies grow everywhere. Fields, fermenters, biorefineries produce innovative substances for eating, building, driving, healing or dressing. Biotech is called upon to customize organisms the way we want to. This bioeconomy is shaping the world to come. From 15th to 17th September 2016 at the University Paris Diderot campus, the FESTIVAL VIVANT brings together all those who transform, use, observe the living world in order to cooperate about: bioeconomy, biotechnology, agriculture, for a sustainable future?"

    For the edition 2016 LIVING FESTIVAL, iGEM IONIS team was present in the «Village des initiatives » (Innovative village) We were there to present the Quantifly project to the world. As the event was open to the public, everyone could come and discover who we were and what we were working on. We had the pleasure to explain our project to children, old people, scientists, artists…

    We also had a big surprise when we realized that 4 iGEM teams were also there ! It was a great time for all of us, and we got to spend more time with them, which is always nice ! Seeing them again after the European Experience and the iGEM Île-de-France Meetup was really fun.

    On the left, 4 iGEM Teams on the same picture ! (iGEM Paris-Saclay, iGEM Pasteur, iGEM Bettencourt and us). On the right, our stand

    iGEM week

    In order to make students from Sup’Biotech discover what the iGEM was and hopefully to convince them to participate next year, we decided to do something that has been organized for the first time by the iGEM IONIS 2015 team: the iGEM Week. We managed to free some time in the students courses to organize project presentations and to get to spend some time with them answering their questions about what was Synthetic Biology, the iGEM and what we were doing. We also performed some food selling throughout the week in order to raise funds for our project Last but not least, we also organized a contest for the students: by groups, they had to design a scientific poster based on a previous iGEM project. The posters would be evaluated by a selection of teachers from the school, on various criteria such as design and scientific content. There were prizes to win for the best posters, and we had a lot of fun showing them all to the school !

    On the last day, we organized a giant BBQ for all the school: the results were announced, and everyone had fun, students and teachers.

    This event was an amazing thing to do, and we hope it will help to create an “iGEM-supportive” state of mind in our school ! We also hope to have motivated some students to create their own iGEM team next year, so that the iGEM IONIS team can last over time and become bigger and bigger !

    iGEM IDF Meetup

    The iGEM IDF (Île-de-France) Meetup was a collaboration between iGEM IONIS, iGEM Pasteur and iGEM Evry. It was originally intended to be hosted in La Paillasse, the lab where the iGEM IONIS team is working, and ended up being in the Pasteur campus.
    The iGEM IONIS team was in charge of designing the event’s logo, and its members were helping out teams as staff.

    6 teams were participating to this meetup, and spent a whole day of fun, with some conferences and project presentations, more in-depth than what has been done during the European Experience. The presentations were also assessed by some professionals and experts with different backgrounds (biology, engineering, design…), who were asking questions and investigating what the teams have been doing over their projects. Their detailed feed-back and reactions were very helpful and allowed us to see the different possible point of views about our projects !

    Two conferences were also organized during the afternoon, and presented by two law students in the iGEM Pasteur team. They gave us an introduction of Intellectual Property, and how to manage it into the frame of Open Science. These were really helpful and helped us to have a better understanding of what the iGEM competition was about.

    After the conferences all the teams gathered outside to eat, drink and play together during a collaborative picnic. This event was the opportunity to talk with iGEMers from Paris and to exchange tips and advices for the future.
    This event, 1 month after the European Experience, was the perfect opportunity to hang out with our fellow iGEMers from all around Ile-de-France, and discover how every team was made, how they were working, and to share a few tips around a good drink ! We had a fantastic day, and everyone was happy in the end. We later met these teams again, (see Festival du Vivant), and it was always some great moments that we spent together !

    The smaller amount of people that were at this meetup allowed us to share more with them, and not only did we met fellow iGEMers, but we could also make friends with a lot of amazing people !

    Week-end Brainstorming

    Staff Event

    Throughout the year, our team participated as staff to three sports events, in order to raise funds for the project and the Boston Giant Jamboree.

    We spent a few weekends on these events: most of the times, it meant going on site very early in the morning to help the « official staff » on the logistic. We then had various roles, going from road blocking to medal handling, through dicing fruits for the runners… We once had to run the main stand for the whole day, and welcomed every runner, gave them their bags, maps, etc ! We also had some more uncommon roles, such as helping bike runners go down stairs under the rain… These events could sometimes be hard, but they always were very fun, and we were on a very good mood all day long: no matter how tired we were, everyone was here for a greater cause, and we got to meet very nice people there. These events were also great occasions for team building and group cohesion, as we had to work together fast and efficiently, just like during the iGEM competition.

    We helped the staff of these events:

  • 10 km du Neuf, March 20th 2016
  • Vélo Tour May, May 22th 2016
  • Disneyrun, to Disneyland Paris on 24th & 25th September 2016