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Challenge Novel Intrinsic Biocontainment Methods

Novel Intrinsic Biocontainment Methods

STATUS: Awarded
Active Solvers: 182
Posted: Feb 08 2018
Challenge ID: 9934080
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Research using viral pathogens is vital to understanding and combating illnesses caused by such viruses and preventing future worldwide pandemics. This research is not without risks and although research facilities that handle dangerous pathogens utilize the most advanced containment equipment and procedures there is still a risk of inadvertent release of such pathogens. Intrinsic biocontainment describes various approaches to deliberately modify a pathogen, and/or a host cell, so that the pathogen does not pose a significant disease risk to humans but retains normal pathological function under specific controlled circumstances. The Seeker is soliciting ideas for novel biocontainment methods that could be used to mitigate the risks associated with research on viral pathogens.

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


A large number of biomedical research laboratories around the world carry out experiments with viruses that have the potential to cause significant morbidity and mortality in humans. These laboratories have equipment and procedures to minimize the associated risk but researchers still face direct risks from working with such pathogens. In addition, there is a risk of inadvertent or intentional release of these dangerous pathogens and therefore it is desirable to have approaches for containment that go beyond the standard measures. One approach is intrinsic biocontainment, in which a pathogen is deliberately altered so that it cannot survive and/or spread outside of a specific environment, and thus if it escapes the lab or infects a researcher it poses no danger. Examples of intrinsic biocontainment schemes have been published but more are needed.  The Seeker is soliciting ideas for novel intrinsic biocontainment methods that could be used to mitigate the risks associated with research on viral pathogens.

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 at least $30,000, with at least one award being no smaller than $15,000 and no award being smaller than $1,000.
  • 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 April 9, 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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