Past editions

2024 - NeoMineX

NeoMineX is dedicated to cleaning wastewater and recycling metals. We believe in a circular economy and a world where metals will never be dumped into the environment anymore but rather be reused to supply the much-needed materials for the technology of tomorrow.

Technology has become part of our daily lives yet in order to use it we need more and more metals and in Europe 38 metals are classified as critical materials. Current mining practices are very unsustainable as they remove whole ecosystems and leave toxic tailings behind. A lot of companies have metals in their wastewater that can be used instead. NeoMineX solves two problems at once, first of all the wastewater gets decontaminated. This means that metals cannot get into the environment anymore where they can have negative effects on aquatic and terrestrial live as well as human health. Secondly, the metals can be reused, solving the problem of critical metals.

Our wiki is coming soon! 

2023 - YarroWCO

What we did is attempt to solve two problems at once. The first problem is that of waste cooking oil, a type of dangerous waste that is produced in huge quantities (in the billions of tonnes). 

Besides waste cooking oil, the second problem we’re trying to solve is the synthesis of steroid medicine (such as corticosteroids), which is still done through precursors because the actual medicine molecules are very difficult to synthesize chemically.

The yeast Yarrowia lipolytica marvellously solves both problems at once, as it is able to convert lipids from waste cooking oil into campesterol, a steroid medicine precursor. Because we have limited time, we actually focus on describing this pathway in theory while expressing bioemulsifiers in practice. These bioemulsifiers will help improve campesterol yield by promoting uptake of waste cooking oil. We also express bioemulsifiers in S. cerevisiae and E. coli to generate additional data. On the other hand, we also have an extensive dry lab project that involves, among others, optimisation of the campesterol production pathway and generation of a molecular switch. Finally, we promote awareness for the issue and set up a used oil collection point for KU Leuven students.

Click the logo below to see more information on their wiki! 

2022 - SenSkill

This project aimed to facilitate the treatment of CRC by creating a bacterial biosensor that immediately transcribes a drug when colorectal cancer is detected. The biosensor would be administered easily via a pill. Their proof of concept was twofold: develop a concentration dependent response system and implement a killswitch. The response system is to identify and locate a CRC tumor, and the killswitch is needed to not allow genetically engineered bacteria to spread freely in the environment once it leaves the body.

This team chose their project with the intention of helping with local problems while choosing a field they were passionate about. After looking through the main health related problems in Belgium, this team considered biomedical and environmental applications. After countless evenings of brainstorming, the team agreed that a biomedical application would be more interesting for all the team members. No matter the field or the nationality, the desire of improving (and possibly saving) lifes brought them together and pushed them forward.

Visit their wiki here.

2021 - BLADEN

Due to climate change, local conditions around the world are changing rapidly. The weather is becoming more unpredictable with large and sudden deviations from stable local conditions. The effects of climate change have a particularly large impact on agriculture and farmers must adapt their crops to these new conditions. Plants are versatile organisms that have an extensive secondary metabolism that allows them to respond to biotic and abiotic stresses, but they cannot adapt and evolve at the same pace as the climate is changing, at least not through classical breeding techniques or on their own.

Team BLADEN tried to circumvent this by developing a semi-rational design method for GMO crop engineering — they were going as far as only needing sequence data and very approximate structures of the proteins that are being targeted. The goal was to evolve and improve plants at a faster pace through this semi-rational design using Continuous Directed Evolution (CDE).

Visit their wiki here.

2019 - Ocyano

With Ocyano, the 2019 KU Leuven team is exploring the use of cyanobacteria as a means of photosynthetic biomanufacturing. Global resource depletion poses a threat to our society, creating a strong demand for durable and sustainable solutions within the industry. Inspired by The Sustainable Development Goals, a collection of 17 goals set by the UN towards a more sustainable future by 2030, the team has decided to focus their efforts on Goal 12: Responsible Consumption & Production: “Doing more and better with less.”.

Read the full project description on the team's Wiki here.

2017 - HEKcite

The 2017 team genetically modified Human Embryonic Kidney (HEK) cell  to create a steady rhythm using three ion channels. The pace of their biosensor was influenced by varying concentrations of biological effectors, aimed to establish a new way of therapeutic drug monitoring. For this novel idea, the team won the “Best New Application” award.

Learn more about their project on the team's Wiki here.

2015 - Spot E.shape

KU Leuven’s iGEM team of 2015 chose to engage in a project on the regulatory mechanisms of motif formation. They engineered bacteria that were able to communicate and influence each other’s behavior resulting in the assembly of predictable visible patterns. The team won a gold medal and the "Interlab Study Award".

Learn more about their project on the team's Wiki here.