Free Growth Factors for Summer Projects

Finding projects for summer students that allow them to learn and take ownership of  independent research, while simultaneously being useful for the lab can be a challenge.

Growth factor comparisons and optimizations are a perfect option for summer students in stem cell and organoid labs. The student can learn basic lab skills while providing a useful set of data for the lab.

Performing growth factor optimizations can be time consuming, but ensuring an optimal set of growth factors allows for more consistent and homogenous cell cultures. Optimizing the amount of growth factor used (while maintaining results) can save huge sums of money in the long run.

At Qkine, we want to help both students and labs get the most out of summer studentships and so we are offering free summer student packs of up to 5 growth factors (up to 100 µg/product) to allow students to perform growth factor-related projects.

The best 2-page lab report will win the Qkine summer project prize and the host lab will receive £1000 in Qkine credit.

At a glance

Sign up now for a chance to claim up to 500 µg of growth factors for free.

Benefits for the lab
  • Optimize media, save money and achieve better results
  • Up to 500 µg of free growth factors
  • £1000 Qkine credit for winning projects
Benefits for the student
  • Learn independent project management skills
  • Able to carry out complete project from start to finish
  • Develop skills such as sterile technique, cell thawing, cell passaging, media prep, media changing, and cell counting

Qkine summer project terms & conditions

1 General

1.1 Participation in the campaign “Qkine summer project” is free of charge and not linked to a purchase obligation and/or use of services. A purchase or use of services will not improve your chances of winning. Mere participation does not entitle a participant to win a prize.

1.2 This contest is open only to those who are over the age of 18.

1.3 For participation in the campaign, all personal data must be entered truthfully. The participant is responsible for the accuracy of the submitted data.

1.4 Legal representatives, employees of the organizer as well as their relatives and third persons being somehow related to this campaign “Qkine summer project” are excluded from participation.

1.5 Qkine reserves the right to disqualify any individual from the campaign “Qkine summer project” on the grounds of violation of the eligibility requirements. Anyone using illegal means or other manipulation to gain advantage shall also be disqualified. In these cases, prizes can also be subsequently disallowed and reclaimed, as necessary. Qkine reserves the right to reject submissions at any time without giving reasons; this refers in particular to submissions that are morally, ethically, or legally inacceptable.

2 “Qkine summer project” period and description

2.1 The campaign “Qkine summer project” begins on March 3rd, 2023 at 8:00 AM GMT and ends on October, 3rd, 2023 at 11:59 PM GMT.

2.2 To take part in the campaign “Qkine summer project”, participants must enter brief project details on the website or via email at Selected entries will then contacted and a maximum of 5 x 100ug of growth factors per participant (participant’s choice) will be sent to them via courier. After completion of the project, a 2-page lab report containing methods and results of the project should be submitted to by Monday, 3rd October, 2022. By entering the competition, the participant accepts the terms and conditions of the campaign “Qkine summer project” and Qkine will contact every participant.

2.3 The winner will be notified via email within 10 days of the competition closing.

3 Prizes

3.1 All students selected for the “Qkine summer project” will receive up to 5 x 100ug of growth factors from the Qkine catalogue. Out of the submitted lab reports, one will be judged to be the winner from a Qkine panel. The winning lab will receive £1000 of Qkine credit, valid for 12 months and against full priced products, no discounts or promotions are applicable.

3.2 All prizes are non-redeemable for cash. Winners cannot make claim to cash payment of the price or exchange of the prize for another item.

4 Publication of winners

4.1 By participating in the campaign “Qkine summer project”, participants explicitly agree that their first name and institution name may be printed/included in the following: on the Qkine website at; on Qkine owned company pages in social networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Google business; and in the following issues of our newsletter or other similar Qkine promotional publication.

5 Copyright

5.1 By entering the competition, participants, explicitly agree that in case they win the prize their name and photo (with the last name abbreviated, if desired) could be printed in the next Newsletter publication, announced on social media (as detailed above), or on the Qkine website. Participants release Qkine from possible third party claims due to the violation of such rights and possible legal costs. Qkine have the right to edit (in particular electronic online editing), reproduce, and communicate by other medial means as well as transfer these rights to third parties. Future uses are free of charge. Participant will waive any further right against Qkine.

5.2 The participants grant Qkine the irrevocable, spatially, unlimited in time and content, non-exclusive and gratuitous rights of use for all known and unknown types of use (in particular, public access, reproduction and dissemination) of the pictures or images submitted by an produced with them for the purpose of participating in the campaign “Qkine summer project”, reporting on it (regardless of the media), for the public relations for the campaign, as well as the right to assign the execution of these rights to third parties.

6 Premature termination of the campaign “Qkine summer project”

6.1 Qkine reserves the right to terminate the of the campaign “Qkine summer project” at any point in time without prior notice and without giving reason. Qkine will make use of this possibility especially if proper execution of the campaign “Qkine summer project” cannot be ensured due to technical reasons (e.g. viruses in the computer system, manipulation, or hard- and/ or software errors) or legal issues. If premature termination is caused by a participant’s behaviour, Qkine may claim damages.

7 Rejection of the submitted data

7.1 Qkine reserves the right to reject submissions by the participants at any time without giving reasons; this refers in particular to data that is morally, ethically, or politically inacceptable.

8 Data Protection

8.1 By participating in the contest, each participant grants to Qkine the right to store and use his/her personal data for the purposes of administering the contest including, but not limited to, contacting and announcing the winners and fulfilling the award of the prizes (including postage). The participant can withdraw the consent to the storage/use of data and, consequently, withdraw participation at any time.

8.2 The winner can revoke his consent to temporary data storage at any time after the competition has been held. The revocation must be sent by e-mail to After revocation of the consent, the collected and stored personal data of the winner will be deleted immediately.

9 Liability

9.1 Through the delivery of the prizes, Qkine is free of all legal obligations, provided that an earlier time does not arise from these provisions. Qkine accepts no responsibility for lost, wrongly delivered, damaged, or illegible participant information, errors, omission, interruptions, deletion, defects or delays in sending data, theft or damage, as well as unauthorized access to or changes in participant details, all technical, network, telephone, electronic, computer, internet, hard- and software disruptions, erroneous transmittance or failed receipt of access information due to technical problems, e.g. internet overload, damage to the participant’s computer and to any other person due to participation in the contest.

Version: March 3rd, 2023

How to apply

Fill in this form to register your interest.

We will contact successful applicants to find out what growth factors you need.

If you have any queries please contact

Qkine shall treat any personal data you provide in connection with this giveaway in accordance with our privacy policy and you hereby give your consent to Qkine to use any such personal data in accordance with our privacy policy.

What to test

You decide! As long as they are part of our catalogue, you can choose which 5 growth factors you’d like to test in an optimization study of your choice.

If you need some inspiration, below are some ideas relating to FGF2 – there are so many options for FGF2 that it makes for a great focus. Our FGF2 range includes: human FGF2 (145aa)human FGF2 (154aa)FGF2-G3 (145aa)FGF2-G3 (154aa), zebrafish FGF2mouse FGF2, and bovine/porcine FGF2.

Idea 1. Could a stable FGF-2 improve your cell culture?

FGF2 has a bioactive half-life of less than 10 hours. Even with daily media changes, the level of FGF2 signalling in media fluctuates substantially. FGF2-G3 is a thermostable form of FGF2 with a bioactive half-life of over 7 days. Could a more consistent level of FGF2 signalling allow for more homogeneous cultures?

Suggested conditions:
  1. WT FGF2
  2. FGF2-G3

Idea 2. Does the protein length of human FGF2 impact cell growth?

Human FGF2 is typically available in two lengths – 145aa or 154aa. Researchers’ rationale for using one form over the other is often based on prior use rather than definitive data. Is there a biological impact of using one form over the other?

We manufacture the stabilised FGF2-G3 in both 145aa and 154aa lengths to allow for direct comparisons with your preferred protein length. These alternative forms could be included in your investigation to determine if the 145aa out-preforms the 154aa (or vice-versa) in both the WT and stabilised forms.

Idea 3. Try weekend-free cell culture!

B8 hiPSC media, developed in the Burridge lab at Northwestern University, is growing in popularity thanks to its cost-effective and weekend-free credentials. Why not compare B8 media with your current hiPSC media to see if your cells can be maintained as efficiently while giving you the weekends off.

We suggest trying both the published B8 recipe and a modified versions with a higher concentration of TGF-β1/3 (1 or 2 ng/ml) as our customers have reported this improves expression of pluripotency markers.

Suggested conditions:
  1. Your current iPSC media
  2. B8 media
  3. B8 media, high TGFβ
  4. Your current iPSC media using thermostable FGF2-G3

Idea 4. Could species-specific growth factors improve your cultures?

Zebrafish FGF2 is commonly used in human cell culture, but do human cells react differently to zebrafish FGF2 when compared to human FGF2? Bovine/porcine FGF2 is 99% similar to human FGF2, and mouse FGF2 is 94% similar. Does this evolutionary divergence effect cellular response to the protein?

Novel engineered forms (like FGF2-G3), while based on human FGF2, have more differences from human sequence than some other species. FGF2-G3 has 9 amino acid differences from the human FGF2 sequence. In comparison, only 2 of the 155 amino acids are different in bovine/porcine and human FGF2. ‘Species neutral’ forms like this could also be compared.

Suggested conditions:
  1. Human FGF2 (145aa or 154aa)
  2. Zebrafish FGF2
  3. Bovine/porcine FGF2
  4. Mouse FGF2

Idea 5. Optimize your reagent concentrations

Could you use less growth factors in your experiments? Perform a concentration dilution experiment to find out if your cells perform equally well with different concentrations of cytokines, with the potential to make your budget go further by spending less on reagents.

Suggested conditions:

Varying concentrations of your cytokines eg 40 ng/ml, 20 ng/ml, 10 ng/ml and 5 ng/ml of FGF2-G3


Key papers

Dvorak et al. 2018

development of FGF2-G3 form using AI

Koledova et al. 2019

assessment of FGF2-G3 stability and signalling

Kuo et al. 2020

development of B8 media – low cost, weekend free iPSC media

Lyra-Leite et al. 2021

updated protocol for B8 media

Benington et al. 2020

nice review of FGF2 stability and stabilisation methods


Cell culture handbook

Guidance and troubleshooting on cell culture

Growth factor handing

Best practice on how to handle your growth factors