Promoting Innovation: Prizes, Challenges and Open Grant Making
Washington, DC (Vocus) April 30, 2010
This Friday, Prize4Life will be an invited participant in “Promoting Innovation: Prizes, Challenges and Open Grant Making”, a public-private strategy session jointly hosted by the White House Office on Science and Technology Policy, the Domestic Policy Council, and the Case Foundation. Conference organizers are expecting 200 participants representing more than 35 federal agencies and 20 organizations covering a multitude of domains to discuss strategies, challenges, and rewards of prizes and open innovation.
The “Promoting Innovation: Prizes, Challenges and Open Grant Making” conference was established to promote discussion on identifying opportunities for, designing, and implementing high-impact prizes, challenges, and open grantmaking projects. The conference comes on the heels of some dramatic changes in the landscape of incentive prizes. In the last several years, both the private sector and the US Government have progressively embraced the conversation on prizes and open innovation. For example, in September 2009, President Obama released his Strategy for American Innovation, calling for agencies to “use high-risk, high-reward policy tools such as prizes and challenges to solve tough problems.” Further, in December 2009, the White House issued the Open Government Directive, calling on agencies to tap skills and knowledge of the American people in addressing the country’s pressing problems. Open innovation and crowdsourcing techniques have been gaining traction across industry lines, including among foundations, media, in industry, and in the Department of Energy.
Prize4Life’s Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Melanie Leitner, will be leading a breakout session focused on Prize4Life’s $1 million ALS Biomarker Challenge, the first prize of its kind to be offered for biomedical research. Interested parties can follow the conference proceedings here. The page will include agenda and speaker information, as well as a new blog series. The meeting will also be streamed live on the site on Friday, April 30, 2010, featuring interviews with a select group of experts and practitioners, Dr. Leitner among them. Followers on Twitter should look for the hashtag #OPENGOV for news on the conference.
Known in the United States as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, ALS is a rapidly progressing neurodegenerative disease that typically takes the life of patients within 2-5 years of diagnosis. It is caused by the degeneration of motor neurons, the nerve cells in the central nervous system that control voluntary muscle movement. It most commonly strikes people between the ages of 40 and 70, and affects men slightly more than women. ALS is the most common motor neuron disease worldwide, and as many as 30,000 Americans struggle with it at any given time. There is no known cure for ALS and only one modestly effective FDA-approved treatment for the disease.
Prize4Life was founded by a group of Harvard Business School students when one of them, Avi Kremer, was diagnosed with ALS at the age of 29. Prize4Life works to accelerate the discovery of a treatment and a cure for ALS by using powerful incentives to attract new people and ideas, and to leverage existing efforts and expertise in the ALS field. Among other program initiatives, the organization currently administers the ALS Biomarker Prize Challenge, the Avi Kremer ALS Treatment Prize, and an ALS research portal (http://www.ResearchALS.org).