Discovery Awards: Could seed funding help crack antibiotic resistance?
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Discovery Awards: Could seed funding help crack antibiotic resistance?

Last night we launched the Discovery Awards to help teams progress their ideas for the Longitude Prize, our £10million challenge to help tackle rising antibiotic resistance. During our evening at the Science Museum, we opened our call for creative minds everywhere to apply for seed funding and develop their ideas for a transformative diagnostic test, to win the prize. Find out more on the Longitude Prize website. 

We thought it fitting to hold our event within halls that embody the best of creative, innovative thinking in science and technology. At this time, as Lord Jim O'Neill's AMR Review tells us that the global deaths due to growing resistance to antibiotics could exceed 10 million people each year, we need expertise from all disciplines, and from around the world applied to one of the solutions: a point of care diagnostic that can quickly and accurately tell us if we need antibiotics. 

Chief Medical Officer for England, Longitude Committee member and Prize Advisory Panel co-chair Dame Sally Davies emphasised the need for global participation in tackling resistance to antibiotics, officially opening the fund and encouraging teams from the UK and across the world to apply.

I'm delighted to launch the Discovery Awards, providing support for teams that have great ideas to be further developed. We need the best minds in the UK and around the world to work on this and find us all a diagnostic that will help reduce the misuse of antibiotics. - Dame Sally Davies, CMO for England

Through the Discovery Awards we aim to maximise the number and diversity of entrants to the Longitude Prize. They are small seed grants with two goals:

  • To help progress the work of registered teams currently working on their submissions
  • To broaden the range of innovators competing for the prize by encouraging new teams to enter the race.

Our conversations with registered teams competing for the prize have revealed interesting needs, which we think we can address by offering seed funds. Teams expressed a lack of resource for things like lab space, materials, finding collaborators, and writing business plans, as barriers to entering the Longitude Prize. We hope this programme will help them overcome those obstacles and develop their idea to a stage suitable to enter the prize.

The launch event also included a guided walk around the Clockmakers' Museum, located within the Science Museum. The Keeper of the Clockmakers' Museum told us about the original Longitude Prize and the winning efforts of carpenter John Harrison to revolutionise seafaring by cracking the problem of identifying a ship’s location at sea. It was impressive to hear this story whilst seeing H5 firsthand, one of his prototypes.  Applying clockmaking to the problem of determining longitude, when other minds were convinced the solution would come from astronomy inspires us today to ensure the prize is open to ideas from many areas of science and technology. 

We are now looking for John and Jane Harrisons of today to help us solve another global problem: resistance to antibiotics. The seed fund is now open and runs until midnight BST, 26 August 2016. 

After that, a panel of judges will assess entries over autumn and winners will be announced on the 21 November, to coincide with the prize’s second anniversary. Teams must be registered to compete for the Longitude Prize in order to apply for Discovery Award funding.

Read more about the criteria and process on the Longitude website.

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Longitude Prize


Tamar Ghosh

Tamar Ghosh

Tamar Ghosh

Lead, Longitude Prize

Tamar led the Longitude Prize for the Innovation Lab.

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