Longitude Prize 2014, a challenge with a prize fund of £10 million, is encouraging scientific experts to enter a contest this fall and come up with a groundbreaking antimicrobial test.
The British government offered the original Longitude Prize in 1714 for a solution that would pinpoint the location of a seabound ship by its longitude. Fast-forward 300 years, and the prize’s focus on solving humanity’s most timely issues has shifted from geographic coordinates to global health solutions. The 21st-century version of the prize is sponsored by Nesta, the United Kingdom’s innovation foundation, and the Technology Strategy Board, the U.K.’s innovation agency.
Working with leading engineers, politicians, and scientists, the 18 experts that make up the Longitude Committee met in the summer of 2013 to discuss ideas for the prize. Broad themes centered on health and well-being, energy, environment, technology and robotics, global development, and democratizing access to communications.
After multiple rounds of analysis and a series of workshops, the committee narrowed down the topics to a shortlist of six challenges. The British public was then asked to vote on a topic that would be suitable for the 2014 prize. On June 25, the Longitude Prize announced that antibiotics would be 2014’s challenge.
To address growing levels of antimicrobial resistance, participants in this year’s prize challenge will be charged with developing an inexpensive but easy-to-use test to detect bacterial infections that’s efficient and accurate.
According to the Longitude Prize’s website, “effective and accurate point of care tests will form a vital part of the toolkit for stewardship of antibiotics in the future. This will ensure that the antibiotics we have now will be effective for longer and we can continue to control infections during routine and major procedures.”
The Longitude Prize sponsors are finalizing criteria on how to win this £10 million prize.
Those interested in solving the antibiotics challenge can register their interest. Participants will receive an alert when submissions open in autumn 2014. Submissions review and judging is scheduled to take place over a 5-year period from 2014 to 2020.