We started our collaborations together with 2014 Aalto-Helsinki team, as we helped students from Stockholm in launching their own team. Indeed, we had a close relationship with Stockholm, including regular Skype sessions and a visit to their lab and universities. We also took part in the amazing Nordic iGEM Conference, organized by teams from Stockholm and Uppsala in July. We skyped with various teams including Pasteur, Edinburgh, Slovenia, and Dundee, discussing our projects and exchanging ideas. Additionally, we helped a dozen iGEM teams by answering their questionnaires.
iGEM teams have both internal communication and communication to the broader iGEM community. Currently this communication is spread over various channels, mostly different social media websites. However, many of these sites are not accessible for a significant portion of iGEM teams, especially those coming from China. On social media iGEM content is also easily lost in the flood of other information. To solve this issue, Stockholm team put up an iGEM collaboration platform, HumHub, including communication and integration of tools such as the BioBrick Seeker. Together with them, we wrote a report on how we used the platform and what we felt were its pros and cons.
Even though we had quite a few teams we were in touch with during our project, we found right from the beginning that finding meaningful collaborations wasn’t an easy task: it is difficult, time-consuming and too often fruitless to browse through half the internet to get an idea of what teams are working on. To find out whether this was something that only we struggled with, we built a short questionnaire for teams. We asked how they found their collaboration partners and how they kept in touch with them. 22 out of 23 teams that answered wished for a better way to find teams to collaborate with. We wanted to do something about this problem, and came up with the idea of Collab Seeker. Collab Seeker is a standard web application that can be used on any platform. Teams looking for collaboration partners can fill in information about their project and easily search for other teams to find out about their projects and their contact information.
We participated in the Interlab Measurement Study arranged by iGEM. The goal of the InterLab study is to obtain fluorescence data for three specific genetic devices expressing GFP from iGEM teams around the world. This will help assess the robustness of parts against different protocols and lab techniques. As the devices are the same, there should be no difference in results between different labs. You can read about our efforts on our Interlab Study page.