This year’s choice topic for the longitude Prize is finding the long awaited answer on the resistance to Antibiotics with an awarded prize of £10 M to be won.The World Health Organization estimates that antibiotics treatments add an average of 20 years to all of our lives. But in the 80 years since the discovery of penicillin, our overuse of antibiotics has put pressure on bacteria to evolve resistance, leading to the emergence of untreatable superbugs that threaten the basis of modern medicine.
Recently, David Cameron committed the UK to leading this global campaign.The challenge is being run and developed by Nesta, with the Technology Strategy Board as its launch funding partner.
Six challenges were initially selected and arguments and selections were made to determine the most important and urgent. They ranged from tackling dementia, water desalination, assistive technology for paralysis, assistive technologies for dementia, climate change by addressing carbon air travel to big food innovation. (consult them on here)
Nesta hopes that the Longitude Prize 2014 will help to promote challenge (or inducement) prizes as a way of solving big scientific problems. This form of awarding is more objective – the one with the best idea wins- and brings about more openness where anyone from a team of university researchers, a start-up, even a lone wolf inventor can participate. Challenges as this also bring clear business benefits. Known companies like P&G and General Mills have been known to open up their challenges to the outside world so as to get solutions. Governments are also crucial in playing a vital role in backing research. The EU, for example, is considering a significant expansion of prizes as part of its Horizon 2020 program.
Nesta will finalize the detailed prize criteria for the main Longitude Prize and publish it during autumn. They are asking for business’ inputs if they find they have missed any criteria.
Do you have an idea to solve the antibiotics challenge? Register your interest and you’ll be alerted when submissions open in autumn 2014.