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Challenge Predicting Risks from Bioterrorism or Biowarfare

Predicting Risks from Bioterrorism or Biowarfare

STATUS: Awarded
Active Solvers: 222
Posted: Oct 03 2018
Challenge ID: 9934082
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It is widely acknowledged that bioengineered viruses or microbes may pose a risk of causing high levels of morbidity and mortality in certain conceivable circumstances. However, attempts to assess the probability of a high-mortality event result in wide variation in estimates of risk. This Ideation Challenge seeks improved arguments for estimating the risk of a catastrophic event in the next 25 years.

This is an Ideation Challenge with a guaranteed award for at least one submitted solution.


Oxford academics Piers Millett and Andrew Snyder-Beattie have noted1In the decades to come, advanced bioweapons could threaten human existence. Although the probability of human extinction from bioweapons may be low, the expected value of reducing the risk could still be large, since such risks jeopardize the existence of all future generations.” They go on to provide an overview of biotechnological extinction risk and make some estimates for how severe the risks might be.

The goal of this Ideation Challenge is to solicit arguments that lead to improved estimates of the risk that advanced bioweapons will be used within the next 25 years by private or state actors, and will result in the death of more than 20% of the global human population.

1 Piers Millett and Andrew Snyder-Beattie, Existential Risk and Cost-Effective Biosecurity. Health Security Volume 15, Number 4, 2017. DOI: 10.1089/hs.2017.0028 and citations therein

This is an Ideation Challenge, which has the following unique features:

  • There is a guaranteed award. The award(s) will be paid to the best submission(s) as solely determined by the Seeker. The total payout will be $13,000, with at least one award being no smaller than $5,000 and no award being smaller than $2,000.
  • The Solvers are not required to transfer exclusive intellectual property rights to the Seeker. Rather, by submitting a proposal, the Solver grants to the Seeker a royalty-free, perpetual, and non-exclusive license to use any information included in this proposal, including for promotional purposes

Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 PM (US Eastern Time) on November 3, 2018. 

Late submissions will not be considered.

After the Challenge deadline, the Seeker will complete the review process and make a decision with regards to the Winning Solution(s). All Solvers that submit a proposal will be notified on the status of their submissions; however, no detailed evaluation of individual submissions will be provided.

What is InnoCentive?
InnoCentive is the global innovation marketplace where creative minds solve some of the world's most important problems for cash awards up to $1 million. Commercial, governmental and humanitarian organizations engage with InnoCentive to solve problems that can impact humankind in areas ranging from the environment to medical advancements.

What is an InnoCentive Ideation™ Challenge?

An InnoCentive Ideation™ Challenge is a broad question formulated to obtain access to new ideas, similar to a global brainstorm for producing a breakthrough idea or market survey which may include ideas for a new product line, a new commercial application for a current product, or even a viral marketing idea to recruit new customers. Ideation™ Challenge submissions are typically about two written pages, and Seekers receive a non-exclusive, perpetual license to use all submissions.

In an Ideation™ Challenge, Solvers may:

  • Submit ideas of their own
  • Submit third party information that they have the right to use and further the authority to convey that right and the right to use and develop derivative works to Seekers
  • Submit information considered in the public domain without any limitations on use

Solvers should not reveal any confidential information in their submissions. Often the Ideation™ Challenge will be followed by one or more of the other three Challenge types to further develop the ideas and gain Intellectual Property protection when the concept has been well-defined.

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