Awards in iGEM 2016

The following is a list of Awards given by the iGEM Judges and some general information about how Award decisions are made.
For examples of award-winning work, see the 2015 Jamboree Results.

Grand Prizes

A small number of iGEM teams will be selected by the judges as iGEM Finalists. These teams will be selected based on the overall excellence of their entire project, from choice of project, to new Parts and Devices, to the quality of the Project Description, Poster, and Presentation, to the success and impact of the project, to consideration of issues of Human Practices, and so on. There will be three finalists from both the undergraduate section and the overgraduate section.


1.- Grand Prize Undergraduate
also known as the aluminum BioBrick Trophy; best overall undergraduate team project

2.- First Runner-Up Undergraduate
the next highest ranking undergraduate team project

3.- Second Runner-Up Undergraduate
the next highest ranking undergraduate team project


1.- Grand Prize Overgraduate
also known as the aluminum BioBrick Trophy; best overall overgraduate team project

2.- First Runner-Up Overgraduate
the next highest ranking overgraduate team project

High School

1.- Grand Prize High School
also known as the BioBrick Trophy; best overall high school team project

Standard Track Awards

The iGEM 2016 judging committee hopes to award the following track awards, conditional on the accomplishments presented by the teams. Each prize will be awarded at the discretion of the judges based on how impressed they are with the level of excellence demonstrated by teams. Below are brief descriptions for each track award.

1.- Best Diagnostics Project

Many medical conditions can be successfully treated if only they are diagnosed at an early enough stage. Can your team come up with faster, cheaper and better diagnostics techniques to improve access to medical treatment worldwide?

2.- Best Energy Project

World energy consumption has increased by roughly a factor of six since 1950. In May 2013, atmospheric C02 readings taken at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii surpassed 400 ppm for the first time, an unsustainably high concentration of CO2. Can we use synthetic biology to create energy technologies that produce less CO2, make energy using feedstock and waste materials or otherwise sustainably generate energy?

3.- Best Environment Project

The quality of the air, water, and land, both on Earth and other heavenly bodies, limits the happiness of humans and other creatures. Can biotechnology be used to help clean the air, provide fresh drinking water, restore or enhance soil quality, terraform a near-Earth asteroid, or protect, preserve, or enhance natural biological diversity?

4.- Best Food and Nutrition Project

People need to eat. Can biotechnology be responsibly used to produce food or nutritional molecules without causing widespread shortages of either, and without harming the environment that future generations will inherit?

5.- Best Foundational Advance Project

Just thirty-five years ago, scientists could not cut and paste pre-existing fragments of genetic material like we can today. The discovery and application of DNA recombination allowed us to assemble new genes. The synthetic biology community needs other enabling technologies that help to make new accomplishments possible. What are other types of basic tricks does nature use? Have you discovered and applied one that could revolutionize synthetic biology?

6.- Best Information Processing Project

The diversity and abundance of biological properties, behaviors, and parts presents a huge information processing challenge. Has your project led to an innovative system that allows us to navigate and use lots of information quickly and effectively?

7.- Best Manufacturing Project

Have you ever heard of nanotechnology? Well, biology is a nanotechnology that already exists, and that actually works. The ribosome is a programmable nanoassembler embedded within a reproducing machine. Could we responsibly use biology to manufacture useful products, from the nanoscale (atoms) to the decascale (buildings and bridges)? What can biology be programmed to manufacture?

8.- Best New Application Project

We're guessing that you have great ideas that nobody has ever thought about, or if they have they forgot to tell somebody else. Can you imagine an entirely new application area for biological technology?

9.- Best Therapeutics Project

Many health and medical problems can best be addressed with new and novel therapies. What can synthetic biology do to improve techniques, technology and access to new and novel therapies?

Please Note

There will be a track award distributed to teams in the undergraduate section and one to teams in the overgraduate section on the condition that there are more than 10 teams in each of the sections in the specified track. If there are less than 10 teams in either the undergraduate or overgraduate section of a track, the prizes will be combined into one track award.

Special Track Awards

The iGEM 2015 judging committee hopes to award the following new track prizes, conditional on the accomplishments presented by teams. Each prize will be awarded at the discretion of the judges based on how impressed they are with the level of excellence demonstrated by teams.

1.- Best Art & Design Project

Teams of art and design students with input from scientific advisors can use art to drive their iGEM projects, while also making scientific contributions. We are looking for projects that use art and design to consider and explore current and future implications of synthetic biology (including stakeholders, communication, pedagogy, thinking outwards).

2.- Best Hardware Project

After many teams have worked in the area in the last few years, Hardware is now a part of iGEM. Are you developing hardware for synthetic biology? This broad definition of hardware could include projects working on low cost lab equipment, microfluidics, specialized equipment for measurement and many other areas. Hardware teams are encouraged to have wetware components to their projects, and are encouraged, but not required to submit parts.

3.- Best Measurement Project

With all the instruments in our laboratories, why isn't measurement a solved problem in synthetic biology? Part of the problem is knowing what to measure and in what context. The iGEM Measurement Track will aim to address some of these problems.

4.- Best Software Project

Computers have been around for a long time. Why don't we have more, great software tools to help everyone engineer synthetic biological systems based on standard biological parts?

Please Note

Special Track teams are not eligible for the corresponding special awards. For example, the hardware track teams are not eligible for the hardware special prize. Special track teams are also not eligible for the grand prize.

Special Prizes

Special prizes are awarded to honor the most innovative and unique contributions to iGEM. The iGEM 2016 Executive Judging Committee hopes to award the following Special prizes, conditional on the accomplishments presented by the teams. Each prize will be awarded at the discretion of the judges based on how impressed they are with the level of excellence demonstrated by teams.

1.- NEW: Best Advancement in Plant Synthetic Biology

Did you build a project in a plant chassis this year? Did you submit plant parts to the Registry? Do you have a multicellular project you can show off? Document what your team did on your wiki and tell us you want to be evaluated for the plant special prize in your judging form!

2.- Best Applied Design

This is a prize for the team that has developed a synbio product to solve a real world problem in the most elegant way. The students will have considered how well the product addresses the problem versus other potential solutions, how the product integrates or disrupts other products and processes, and how its lifecycle can more broadly impact our lives and environments in positive and negative ways.

3.- Best Education and Public Engagement

Over the last few years, we have seen teams produce some truly outstanding work in the areas of education and public engagement. Innovative educational tools and public engagement activities have the ability to discuss the science behind synthetic biology, spark new scientific curiosity and establish a public dialogue about synthetic biology from voices/views outside the lab. To highlight this work and draw a distinction from other areas of human practices, we are introducing a new award in 2015 to the team that produces the most innovative work in this area.

4.- NEW: Best Hardware

This is a prize for the team that has developed a piece of hardware for synthetic biology. Hardware in iGEM should make synthetic biology based on standard parts easier, faster, better or more accessible to our community. Did your team make a sensor to help teams characterize parts faster? Did you make a robot that can help teams perform experiments or do cloning more easily? Complete the /hardware standard page to compete for this award!

5.- Best Innovation in Measurement

There are a lot of exciting Parts in the Registry, but many Parts have still not been characterized. Designing great measurement approaches for characterizing new parts or developing and implementing an efficient new method for characterizing thousands of parts are good examples.

6.- Best Integrated Human Practices

Are you interested in how your project affects society and society influences the direction of your project? Will conversations with stakeholders affect the experiemtns you conduct in the lab? Are you planning to integrate feedback into the workflow of your work all through the iGEM competition? Document how your project evolved based on the information acquired from these activities and compete for this award!

7.- Best Model

Mathematical models and computer simulations provide a great way to describe the functioning and operation of BioBrick Parts and Devices. Synthetic Biology is an engineering discipline and part of engineering is simulation and modeling to determine system behavior before building your design. Designing and simulating can be iterated many times in a computer before moving to the lab. This award is for teams who build a model of their system and use it to inform system design or simulate expected behavior before or in conjunction with experiments in the wetlab.

8.- Best New Basic Part

Most genetically-encoded functions have not yet been converted to BioBrick parts. Thus, there are *many* opportunities to find new, cool, and important genetically encoded functions, and refine and convert the DNA encoding these functions into BioBrick standard biological parts. To be eligible for this award, this part must adhere to Bronze medal requirement #4 and have been sent to the Registry of Standard Biological Parts.
Your best new Basic Part should be visible on your Wiki’s Data Page (see https://igem.org/Sample_Data_Page).

9.- Best New Composite Part

New BioBrick devices can be made by combining existing BioBrick Parts. For example, Inverters, Amplifiers, Smell Generators, Protein Balloon Generators, Senders, Receivers, Actuators, and so on. To be eligible for this award, this part must adhere to Bronze medal requirement #6 and have been sent to the Registry of Standard Biological Parts.
Your best new Composite Part should be visible on your Wiki’s Data Page.

10.- Best Part Collection

Did your team make a lot of great parts? Is there a team that ties all your parts together? Do you have more than 10 parts in this collection? Did you make a CRISPR collection, a MoClo collection or a collection of awesome pigment parts? Tell the judges you should be evaluated for the Best Parts Collection award! To be eligible for this award, these parts must adhere to Bronze medal requirement #6 and have been sent to the Registry of Standard Biological Parts.

11.- Best Poster

Posters should be attractive, clear, and concisely present your team's work. Please read over our 2014 poster judging guidelines for more information on how we are assessing the posters; formatting requirements and expected poster components are also specified at that link. 2014 guidelines are still valid in this competition year. .

12.- Best Presentation

Presentations should be clear, engaging, and communicate your project to a broad audience.

13.- Best Software Tool

Regardless what's the topic, iGEM projects often create or adapt computational tools to move the bigger project forward. Because they are born out of a direct practical need, these software tools (or new computational methods) can even prove surprisingly useful for others. Without necessarily being big or complex, they can make the crucial difference to a project's success. This award tries to find and honor such "nuggets" of computational work. To be eligible, your software has to be documented and made available under an OSI approved open source license.

14.- Best Supporting Entrepreneurship

The cross-track entrepreneurship prize recognizes exceptional effort to build a business case and commercialize an iGEM project. This award is open to all teams to show that entrepreneurship is something all teams can aspire to do with their project. This award can go to an new project, or to a previous project that a team aimed to commercialize. Have you filed a provisional patent on your project/device/process? Have you raised money to build and ship products? Have you pitched your idea to investors and received money? Complete the entrepreneurship section on the 2015 Judging form and tell us what you did. As always in iGEM, the aim is to impress the judges!

15.- Best Wiki

The team Wiki is the “face” of your iGEM project. The team Wikis serve as the main project information resource for future iGEM students and teams, as well as the rest of the world. This award honors the “model” Wiki page, which exemplifies what the following year’s Wikis should strive for.

Please Note

There will be one special prize awarded to teams in the undergraduate section and one to teams in the overgraduate section. There may also be special prizes awarded to high school teams, providing the work is of sufficiently high quality. *Please note judges may choose not to award both undergraduate and overgraduate awards in cases where they have not been sufficiently impressed.

Please send us any comments or suggestions for awards and judging by email to the judging committee at judging AT igem DOT org.