About us

Longitude Prize, a challenge with a prize fund of £8 million, has been launched to help solve one the greatest issues of our time: the rise of antibiotic resistance. The prize has been developed and is being run by Nesta, the UK’s innovation foundation. It was launched by the Prime Minister at G8 2014, and is being supported by Innovate UK as funding partner.  

300 years on from the original longitude prize, we’ve launched a new prize for a new century. And this time you chose the issue you most wanted solved.

A public vote was launched on BBC Two's Horizon programme on 22 May 2014, and the winning challenge, antibiotics, was announced on 25 June 2014. 

The antibiotics challenge will be open to anyone to solve.

Why Longitude Prize?

In 1714 the British government threw down the gauntlet to solve the greatest scientific challenge of the century – how to pinpoint a ship’s location at sea by knowing its longitude.

The problem with not accurately knowing longitude was that ships got lost at sea. This caused a lot of ship wrecks and disrupted global trade.

The challenge was solved by watchmaker and carpenter John Harrison who designed the chronometer, the first seafaring clock that allowed people to pinpoint their exact position at sea.

It was the very first challenge prize of its kind and the solution not only led to safer sea travel, but opened up global trade.

The Committee reforms

We’ve reinstated the very first Longitude Committee that met 300 years ago for Longitude Prize.

Over the last two years, Astronomer Royal Martin Rees and Nesta have brought together an illustrious committee to work out the six biggest global issues that we face today which, if solved, would transform our world.

This time it was YOU, rather than the British government, who decided which issue became the focus of Longitude Prize.

Get involved

In the spirit of the original longitude prize the final challenge is open to everyone.

300 years ago everyone thought that the solution to longitude would be something to do with astronomy, and that it would involve rich hobbyists with big funding.

But in the end the person who won the prize was a carpenter and watchmaker called John Harrison. He realised that the solution could be something totally different - a portable timepiece that told the time in your home port so captains would always know how far round the world they were.

It was an ingenious, simple solution to a complex problem, and that’s the spirit of longitude that we want to recapture today.

Now that the antibiotics challenge has been chosen, we want everyone, from amateur scientists to the professional scientific community, to try and solve it.

Who runs the Prize?

The Longitude Prize is run by a team in Nesta, the UK's innovation foundation, with funding from Innovate UK. We have expert advisors, a Prize Advisory Panel who judge entries, and a Longitude Committee who govern the Prize and will ultimately declare the winner.