€ 2.403 raised
€ 3.000 Our goal
80% Reached
Project is closed

iGEM defeats the dark side of LEGO!

Do you know how many LEGO bricks are produced every minute? … 35000! This is a staggering amount and while we have loved the little building blocks since we were kids, there is a downside to these bricks. By creating these fine toys, LEGO produces over 300 kilograms of CO2, each minute.

Because we don’t want to take these toys from the next generation, but we do want to leave a clean world for the next generation, we came up with a solution!

We use microorganisms to turn waste streams into brand new LEGO blocks.However, to develop these new technologies, and make sure your children can also play with LEGO, we need your help!

What we will do

From the 24th until the 28th of October the 14th edition of the iGEM competition will take place. The team of the University will use yeast to create bio-friendly LEGO bricks made out of waste streams. This way they will bring down the CO2 consumption of this widely loved multinational.

Participation in the iGEM competition will cost the team a lot of money, including the costs of the laboratory, the materials to build a prototype and participation in the contest. The Faculty supports the iGEM team, but that will not be sufficient to cover all the costs.

Would you like to support the team by making a donation? Any amount is welcome!

Donating is very easy by using the buttons at the right hand side of the page!.

To follow the process of our project please visit our social media platforms and don’t forget to donate!

About iGEM

iGEM, International Genetically Engineered Machine, is an international annual competition in which multidisciplinary teams of students are using the latest Synthetic Biology techniques to build a biological machine. The students invent, design and build a bacterium with a useful and/or interesting application. This year, there are more than 300 teams from universities around the world who participate in the contest. In Boston, they present their results and compete for the world title. Every year a team from the University of Groningen participates to show that our faculty of Science and Engineering is the best of the world. You can support the team of this year!


Jacques Hille


Hi, my name is Rianne Prins. Currently, I am in the final year of the research master Medical and Pharmaceutical Drug Innovation and about to finish the last course. After that, I will become a busy iGEM-labrat for the summer! The practical and theoretical experience I obtained during my various internships will hopefully help to make our project an all-time success story. The development of a bio-based, circular economy is one of the greatest contemporary challenges and the fact that we, in our multidisciplinary team, can participate to accomplish this challenge is something I find extremely exciting. In the future, I would like to continue being a researcher, to contribute to unraveling more of life's mysteries and potentially develop innovative applications or technologies by use of the obtained knowledge.

Let me shortly introduce myself, my name is Jens Schepers. Currently, I am in the final weeks of my master Ecology and Evolution during which I followed the ‘Science, Business & Policy’ track. Before I will start my working life (eventually) after this summer, I will be busy for the iGEM team of Groningen this year. The reason I joined this team is, besides that fact it looks good on your resume ofcourse, that I get to team up with a bunch of super smart, ambitious people that combine a whole lot of different expertises. Together we get to solve an important societal problem that no one of us could have solved by themselves. When I am not studying I like to keep myself busy doing sports, the past 5 years I have been rowing for the most beautiful sports club in the Netherlands. However, at this moment I am preparing for completely new experience, an olympic triathlon. In a few years (5 years of this was a proper job interview), I am pursuing a governmental/political position somewhere in either Brussel or The Hague. If that doesn’t work out the way I hope/expect, I will probably be doing research on a nice tropic ecosystem somewhere far away.

  I am Matthijs Tadema and I am the treasurer for the Rug IGEM team this year. Currently I am a master student of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, so naturally the philosophy of IGEM appeals to me. Besides experience in molecular biology I also bring molecular dynamics knowledge to the team, which we can use to simulate parts of our project in molecular detail.In the precious little free time I have, I like to program dumb things in python, go biking or running occasionally and going to concerts.In the future I hope to find my niche in research, where I can combine my love of programming and technology with doing molecular biology research and, hopefully, make the world a better place in the process.

Hi, my name is Benno Diekmann and I am currently in the first year of my master pharmacy. I joined iGEM to make more experience in science and because it’s awesome. I find the multidisciplinary approach and the fact that we have to make the plans and find the funding for our research ourselves to be very appealing and a great learning experience. I am fascinated by the endless possibilities synthetic biology can offer us although I look at things from a more chemical point of view. With my wide background, crosslinked knowledge and general scientific interest I contribute to the iGEM team not only as a laboratory worker but also when solving questions regarding feasibility of an idea, effective laboratory practices or by bringing in entirely new perspectives. In my free time I enjoy hanging out with friends, cooking, playing volleyball and remixing music. I am sure that participating in the 2018 iGEM competition will be a very useful experience and addition to my CV no matter which path my career might progress on. Not only does iGEM give me more laboratory experience and broadens my scientific background, it is also teaches about the challenges of finding funding and the importance of teamwork and good communication.

My name is Bram Wiggers and I’m very proud to be a member of the iGEM team this year. This is the first year of my Master Artificial Intelligence, a study that really challenges me. This year we will put more focus on the new technical possibilities that AI can bring to bioengineering. I am looking forward to contribute something to this process. Next to this I am looking for ways on how to implement our project in the real world. By having contact with different stakeholders, I hope to find out how we can make the best contribution with our project. Of course this project will be a very long journey, with beautiful and challenging moments. But I’ve got the feeling that when you believe in something, you will see that you can make everything. Or as the old Romans used to say: “See by believing, Credendo Vides”.

Hi guys! I’m Noa Leijdesdorff. Currently, I’m finishing up my bachelor’s in Biomedical Engineering. Being part of the iGem team has allowed me to combine my love for innovation with working in an interdisciplinary group of ambitious people all working towards the same awesome goal: taking one giant step towards a more sustainable bio-based economy. We only have one planet, and to get the opportunity to work towards a better tomorrow with the most exciting fields of study is a real privilege. Aside from working in the lab, I’m also responsible for raking in the goods to finance our quest. I hope to use my entrepreneurial side to add sponsors, established companies, exciting start-ups and funds to our family of partners. In my spare time I love to explore the uncharted depths of the ocean, and I’m a real foodie and obsessed with dim sum. In September I will be starting my master’s in Biomedical Engineering at the TU Delft.  

My name is Matthijs Pals. I’m  a second year Artificial Intelligence student who also has a bachelors in Biomedical Engineering. I joined iGEM hoping to be able to apply this combined knowledge in the programming and modelling tasks. Besides that I’m also doing some work on the outreach part since I am somewhat able with Photoshop, even though I still feel more comfortable with a non-digital brush. When I’m not working on study, I like to play guitar and piano, paint, go to concerts and chill with friends. I’m also a member of MARS, a sports association for historical European martial arts, (sword fighting mainly). In the future I hope to do research in the cognitive science field, as I am really fascinated by the human mind and human intelligence. If that doesn’t work out working for a small software or game development company doesn’t sound too bad either.

 Hey there, my name is Phillip Yesley and I’m the secretary of our team. I’m currently in the last year of my Chemistry bachelor. I joined the team to find a girlfriend. Just kidding. I’m passionate about synthetic biology, cloning gives me a god-complex, and was excited to work on a project of my own. Aside from my function as secretary, which is not always too well defined, I help out with the variety of challenges an iGEM project sets, modelling and lab work in particular. Although not officially recognized, I feel I’ve also become a social cohesive for our team with my regular dinner parties and very lazy sense of humour. When I’m not busy sabotaging our project, I can be found reading by one of the Netherland’s picturesque canals. 

Hi, my name is Jan Marten Wielenga. Currently I’m halfway through my masters in Biomedical Sciences. I signed up for iGEM because I enjoy exploring the possibilities of biotechnology, especially when we can choose our own project and work with a little less supervision. I really enjoy working with people who come from different backgrounds, as this gives an interesting dynamic to the project. I’m partially in charge of the lab, and expect to be spending a lot of time here over the summer. In my free time I enjoy sports, hanging out with friends, and traveling.

My name is Jacques Hille and I am a master student in chemistry. The iGEM project intrigues me because of various reasons. During my study I got experienced in fields such as biochemistry and organic chemistry, and I am curious to get a taste of biotechnology. Furthermore, it's appealing to be involved in the process. The whole process from raising funds to genetically engineering the machine is fascinating. In addition, the freedom to design the project in the subject of your own interest is very alluring and finally I enjoy working in a multidisciplinary team of students. Besides studying I enjoy sports like playing soccer. The future after my masters will be a mystery still to be unraveled.   

Hi, I’m Ingeborg Frentz and I am a second year master student in Biomedical Sciences. I joined the iGEM team because I wanted to be able to work on a project from start to finish and the field of biotechnology is really interesting. The multidisciplinary team makes for great discussions during meetings and it will hopefully make our project better! During the project I will be working mostly on the outreach part, but will be spending some time in the lab as well during the summer. In my free time I like to make music and go to the theater or see a movie. 

Hi, I am Owen Terpstra. Currently I am doing my masters in molecular biology and biotechnology. While I study biology, I like science and philosophy in general and am looking to end up in the more chemical side of biology. Besides these geeky interests, I also dance salsa and like acting, at the moment mostly improv comedy. I am always looking for new things to learn, which is why I have chosen to participate in iGEM this year. In university I have learned about the technical aspects of research, but in iGEM I will to learn about all the other aspects of research. My main contribution will be in the lab, but I would also love to teach people about our project. After my masters I hope to stay in academics and satisfy my hunger for research by doing a PhD in molecular Biology.My name is

Hi, I am Jakob Vokač and I’m in charge of the team’s wiki and part of the modelling group. I study computer science, but I also have an interest in genetics and molecular biology. iGEM seems like the perfect project for me to experience this field in practise and not just in books. I hope to contribute to the project by learning as much as I can about systems biology and helping out the lab people with simulations and models for their experiments. I’m also in charge of making the teams website. Since I’m still a bachelor student and I’m also attending the Honours programme here at RuG, I don’t have much free time. In the time that I do have, I enjoy swimming and every so often going out with friends. Otherwise, I just relax with some shows on Netflix or other sources.

 A plastic with high demand

The expected worldwide consumption of styrene, an important building block for many plastics, is expected to increase to 41 million tons in 2020. The vast majority of styrene is currently derived from crude oil, which releases already fixated carbon back into the environment and costs energy to refine and produce. This has a negative impact on the environment.

A better source

Cellulose is not only an important component of trees and therefore wood, but also of many plants and algae and can therefore be found in the waste streams generated by agricultural and industrial processes. So far cellulose has been relatively difficult to biodegrade, preventing it from being used to its full potential.

Where we come in

We aim to engineer a yeast strain that is able to degrade cellulose into glucose and produces styrene as an end product. The first step in our project is equipping our yeast strain with a protein complex that breaks down cellulose into glucose.

Sustainable production

The next step in our project concerns the production of styrene. For this we can mostly rely on an endogenous pathway. We will introduce the PAL2 enzyme from A. Thaliana which converts phenylalanine to trans-cinnamate which is finally converted by the cell to styrene.

A brighter future

If our project succeeds we simultaneously would be able to lower the dependency on fossil fuels for styrene production and take the first important steps towards the creation of a bio-based economy