What is the Longitude Prize?
Challenge prizes offer a reward to whoever can first or most effectively solve a problem. The Longitude Prize is looking for a team of innovators from anywhere in the world to invent an affordable, accurate, fast and easy-to-use test for bacterial infections that will allow health professionals worldwide to administer the right antibiotics at the right time. £8 million will be awarded to the winner, to help tackle the global problem of antibiotic resistance.
Without accurate, rapid diagnostic tests and best practice in antibiotic stewardship, the efficacy of new antimicrobial medicines and treatments will be undermined in the long-term, while current stocks of antibiotics will be compromised in the short-term.
Delivered day-to-day by Nesta Challenges, the prize is supported by a committee of experts from across the scientific, clinical and industrial world. The Longitude Prize Committee and Advisory Panel is responsible for on-going prize consultation and will, ultimately, judge and decide which entry should win. Co-funded by Innovate UK and supported by BIRAC in India, other supporters of the Prize since 2014 include: GSK, BBC, Amazon, M&C and Science Museum.
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How the Challenge came to be
In 2012, Nesta Challenges, which exists to design challenge prizes that help solve pressing problems, initiated a competition for the UK public to decide the focus of the new Longitude Prize. Working with 100s of scientists, academics and others, the following issues were identified:
- Antibiotics – How to prevent the rise of resistance to antibiotics?
- Dementia – How to help people with dementia live independently for longer?
- Flight – How to fly without damaging the environment?
- Food – How to ensure everyone has nutritious sustainable food?
- Paralysis – How to restore movement to those with paralysis?
- Water – How to ensure everyone has access to safe, clean water?
The choice of challenges was presented on BBC Horizon in 2014, with a poll opened to the public afterwards. The winner, Antibiotics, was subsequently announced on The One Show, on BBC One. Formally welcomed by then Prime Minister David Cameron, Innovate UK became a funding partner.
Where are we now?
The deadline to submit an entry to win the £8 million prize is 30 September 2022.
The deadline was extended in 2020 to ensure that the competing teams have enough time to complete development of their rapid point-of-care diagnostic tests that can help slow the development of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
The Longitude Prize Sprint programme, consisting of free, technical workshops with industry experts, plus a package of bespoke 1-to-1 expert support sessions for competitors, was also launched in 2020.
Today there are more than 50 registered competitors: new teams are still welcome to join the competition. The challenge can be won at any time.