News Release

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

New prize competition seeks innovative ideas to advance open science

Applicants asked to develop new products or services to harness the power of “big data” to improve health.

The National Institutes of Health has partnered with London-based Wellcome Trust to launch a global science competition for new products or services to advance “open science,” a movement to make scientific research data broadly accessible to the public. Up to six teams of technology experts and researchers stand to win $80,000 each to develop their ideas into a prototype or to advance an existing early stage prototype. The prototype judged to have the greatest potential to further open science will receive $230,000.

“Research is a global, data-driven enterprise and our ability to improve health increasingly hinges on our ability to manage and make sense of the enormous amounts of data being produced by scientific research,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “I expect the Open Science Prize to generate innovative ideas to improve data access and establish new international collaborations that will illustrate the transformative power of sharing research data.”

The volume of digital information generated by biomedical research often called “big data” is growing at a rapidly increasing pace. Researchers’ ability to derive knowledge from data is hindered by their ability to find, access and use it. The goal of the Open Science Prize is to support the development and prototyping of services, tools and platforms to overcome these hurdles to ensure data can be used to advance discovery and spur innovation.

“As an early advocate of open access and data sharing, the Wellcome Trust believes passionately in the power of freely available, reusable research outputs,” said Jeremy Farrar, O.B.E., FMedSci, FRS, director of the Wellcome Trust. “With the Open Science Prize, we hope to tap into the innovative spirit of the global open science community to use open data to deliver global health benefits.”

The first phase of the competition is accepting applications through Feb. 29, 2016. Six teams will be selected based on the advice of a panel of experts to receive the prize money to advance their ideas to prototypes, and will be required to submit their prototypes by Dec. 1, 2016. The overall winner is expected to be selected on Feb. 28, 2017. More information about the Open Science Prize can be found at:

The Open Science Prize is made possible through a Memorandum of Understanding between NIH and Wellcome Trust. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Chevy Chase, Maryland, is also contributing funds to Wellcome Trust for the effort. The NIH effort is part of the Big Data to Knowledge Initiative, launched in December 2013 as a trans-NIH program with funding from all 27 institutes and centers, as well as the NIH Common Fund.

About the Wellcome Trust: The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to improving health. We provide more than £700 million a year to support bright minds in science, the humanities and the social sciences, as well as education, public engagement and the application of research to medicine. Our £18 billion investment portfolio gives us the independence to support such transformative work as the sequencing and understanding of the human genome, research that established front-line drugs for malaria, and Wellcome Collection, our free venue for the incurably curious that explores medicine, life and art.

About the Howard Hughes Medical Institute: The Howard Hughes Medical Institute plays a powerful role in advancing scientific research and education in the United States. Its scientists, located across the country and around the world, have made important discoveries that advance both human health and our fundamental understanding of biology. The Institute also aims to transform science education into a creative, interdisciplinary endeavor that reflects the excitement of real research. HHMI's headquarters are located in Chevy Chase, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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