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World’s largest Biology Olympiad comes to Coventry this summer

Over 260 young biologists from 68 countries will be coming to the University of Warwick to take part in this year’s International Biology Olympiad

The International Biology Olympiad (IBO), which takes place every year in different locations across the globe, sees pre-university students compete in a series of practical experiments and theoretical exams in what is the biggest biology competition in the world.


The competition, which spans a week in duration, takes place from 23rd July to the 30th July, and - after a successful bid back in 2012 - will be taking place this year in the United Kingdom at the University of Warwick's School of Life Sciences.

Professor Laura Green, Head of the School of Life Sciences:

“Staff and students from our School of Life Sciences have been working incredibly hard for the last twelve months to design practicals, advise on examinations, gather equipment and liaise across the UK to deliver this prestigious event.

"We are looking forward to welcoming all the students and their team leaders to our School, the University of Warwick and the city of Coventry. It will be a great opportunity for our international visitors to experience all that we have to offer!”

Dr Andrew Treharne MBE FRSB, Chair of the UK IBO organising committee: “We’re delighted that we’re able to host this year’s IBO here in the UK; a tremendous honour that we’ve been spending over five years preparing for.

“These competitions not only give participants a chance to demonstrate their passion and knowledge of biology, but, just as importantly, allows them to meet their peers within the global biosciences community and really foster the importance of collaboration and international networking for these young scientists in the making.”

The students representing the UK earned their place on the team by first triumphing over 7,500 other students in the British Biology Olympiad, which took place in March of this year.

Since their selection the team has been training at the Natural History Museum, Kew Gardens and the University of Reading, studying subjects such as taxonomy, classification, botany, biochemistry and anatomy in preparation for the competition.

The competition will launch with a lavish opening ceremony that will feature a number of traditional UK based performances from Irish dancing, Scottish Bagpipes, an English brass band and welsh songs performed by an all Male Choir.

A keynote address will also be delivered by Sir Paul Nurse FRS Hon FRSB, chief executive and director of the Francis Crick Institute.

The competition will begin in earnest on the Monday, as students forfeit their mobile devices for the duration of the week. The students will then compete against each other, taking part in practical experiments to demonstrate their laboratory skills and sitting theory exams to test their knowledge.

There will also be ample opportunities for the attendees to socialise, with excursions planned to Stratford upon Avon, Coventry Cathedral, Warwick Castle and the Coventry Transport Museum.

There will be a friendly sports day on the Monday, a performance from the Institute of Zombiology on the Tuesday and, on the Friday night, acclaimed science comedian Simon Watt will be presenting his Ugly Animal Road Show.

The week will come to an end with a closing ceremony on 29th July, where students will receive medals for their achievements during the competition.

Maggy Linford FRSB, lead for the UK team, said of the upcoming event: “The UK team has been training incredibly hard for this year’s competition, and we are so excited to demonstrate that our young biologists are of an exceptional standard and we are very proud of their achievements.

“We’re so excited to welcome the teams from across the world to join us in Coventry for a week of not just friendly competition, but also a week of making lasting connections that hopefully will stay with these students for years to come.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to not just build and strengthen bridges across the global biosciences community but to really showcase what Coventry has to offer.”

Rachel Lambert-Forsyth FRSB, director of membership and professional affairs at the RSB and project manager for the UK IBO “We hope our guests enjoy their week here in Coventry, and thank University of Warwick, especially all the team at the School of Life Sciences and our lead partner the BBSRC and all our sponsors for allowing us to host this incredible event.

“I would like to thank the immense efforts of the volunteers of the UK Biology Competitions committee for making this possible, alongside the IBO steering committee in Kiel who ensure the IBO competition runs successfully year on year and who chose the UK to host this year’s competition.”

Notes to editors:

The International Biology Olympiad

The International Biology Olympiad e.V. (IBO) is an association that organizes a yearly competition for secondary school students, who are winners of their respective National Biology Olympiad.

Their skills in tackling biological problems, and dealing with biological experiments are tested. Interest in biology, inventiveness, creativity and perseverance are necessary.

In bringing together gifted students, the IBO competition tries to challenge and stimulate these students to expand their talents and to promote their career as scientists. A very important point is gathering young people from over the world in an open, friendly and peaceful mind.

Every participating country sends four students, who are the winners of the respective national competitions. They are accompanied by two team leaders who represent the country.


Further information, contact:

Luke Walton, International Press Officer

+44 (0) 7824 540 863

+44 (0) 2476 150 868

L dot Walton dot 1 at warwick dot ac dot uk