Ambassadors’ Diary: Europe - Chapter #3 September 21st
After a quiet European August, we are back for a full schedule of iGEM events, conferences, meetings and SynBio opportunities all over the continent! From the sunny atlantic coast of Portugal, Central European symposium in Czechia, Science Art festivals in Austria, all the way to the Balkans full of EU-related events in Montenegro, and events fostering the biotech scene in Bulgaria!
This has been the most exciting iGEM month for me! For the first time ever, I represented iGEM in my home country - Montenegro, a small mediterranean nation on the Balkans. As a scientist, there’s not a lot happening here - significant infrastructure for scientific research is missing, you could probably gather all stakeholders involved in science in one room (and biotechnology on one table). However, there are a lot of initiatives to develop this field and invest in it - coming directly from the European Union and more precisely, the Montenegrin Ministry of Science. I was honoured to be invited at two EU-related events last week. The Info Day by the European Cooperation in Science & Technology, where I met the Minister of Science and Director of COST, was a great event describing all the networking and collaboration possibilities within COST Actions in Europe. Later in the week, the European Innovation Council presented their extensive program of EU funding for SMEs.
Apart from Montenegro, I was a participant and a guest speaker at the SynBio Standards Workshop in Portugal. The event was organized by SilicoLife and the SHIKIFactory100 Consortium and focused on the development of synthetic biology standards and how to promote their widespread adoption. Meeting some of the Portuguese stakeholders was a pleasure, and we initiated talks about forming the first ever iGEM Team in Portugal next year.
On the way back, I found my old student-home Germany, where I attended the German Conference on Synthetic Biology, and caught up with some of the GASB (German Association for SynBio) members. After the conference, I had the chance to be at this year’s member meeting and be part of the steering election process.
The upcoming two weeks are even better! I will be setting out on starting a pilot version of a SynBio Road Tour - an initiative of travelling between neighbouring countries with the goal of engaging iGEM Alumni and increasing visibility of SynBio and iGEM. First few stops on the road will be a Science Art festival in Vienna, followed by an Alumni meetup, then shortly stopping in Sofia (Bulgaria) for the Biotech Atelier, and moving on to Prague (Czechia) for meetings at the Charles University and Brno - to represent iGEM at the 4th EUSynBioS Symposium! After that, I’m planning a really special project in Italy - which will be the topic of my next diary chapter!
On my side, it has been a bit more quiet for a change. The last months before the competition are filled with preparations for smaller events as well as our big event: the Jamboree. Workshops require a lot of preparation!
Yesterday I went to the EU meetup in Leuven to speak about after iGEM. Next week I’ll be one of the keynote speakers at the New Shape Forum 2019: Weapons Governance, ,where I’ll speak about the proactive attitude iGEM takes in the governance of biosafety/security, I’m really looking forward to this!
Next to this, I’ve been collaborating with a group of scientists and iGEMers on an EU policy initiative to change the ruling on new (plant) breeding techniques as for instance CRISPR-Cas (https://www.growscientificprogress.org/).
In Early October I’ll be traveling to 3 cities in Europe:, Nurnberg, Copenhagen and Barcelona, where I plan to host a small (After-)iGEM meetup. Keep a close eye on the after.igem.org platform for the proposed dates!
Join upcoming European events:
Tune back at after.igem.org for more events and iGEM opportunities!