New prize competition seeks innovative ideas to advance open science

The Open Science Prize invites applicants to develop new products or services that harness the power of 'big data' to improve health.

The Wellcome Trust has partnered with the National Institutes of Health and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute 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.

"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, 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."

NIH Director, Francis S. Collins, said: "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. 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.

The first phase of the competition is accepting applications until 29 February 2016. Based on the advice of a panel of experts, six teams will be selected to receive the prize money to advance their ideas to prototypes, and will be required to submit their prototypes by 1 December 2016. The overall winner is expected to be selected on 28 February 2017.

More information can be found on the Open Science Prize website and the NIH press release.