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The Open Science Prize: Harnessing the innovative power of open data and content

20 Oct, 2015

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The Wellcome Trust has teamed up with the US National Institutes of Health and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to launch a new prize that will seek to unleash the power of open content and data to advance research and its application for health benefit. David Carr, Policy Adviser at the Wellcome Trust discusses how the Open Science Prize came into being, and what the partners hope to achieve.

The volume and complexity of digital outputs being generated by research – including datasets, online publications, computer code and other outputs – is growing at an ever-increasing rate. This has created exciting new opportunities for researchers and other innovators to mine and extract value from these vast data resources in ways that will accelerate discovery and generate new benefits for society.

OSP_strapline_largeAs long-standing supporters and advocates of open science, the US National Institutes of Health, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Wellcome Trust wanted to find a way to harness the creative power of researchers and other technology innovators to address this challenge. The development of a joint prize fund seemed an ideal vehicle for mobilising interest and excitement in this area, and for tapping into the competitive spirit of these communities to come forward with the very best ideas and innovations.

The resulting Open Science Prize aims to stimulate the development of novel and ground-breaking tools, services and platforms to enable the re-use of digital research outputs relevant to biomedical or health applications.

The prize is open to anyone with an idea that seeks to demonstrate the benefits of making research outputs open and usable and proposes new and innovative ways to enable this. By way of example, these ideas might include:

  • new platforms to integrate and repackage open content and data from the biomedical and health sciences domains and beyond,
  • novel text and data mining applications,
  • tools to package and tailor open content and data for new audiences (such as healthcare professionals or the broader public), or
  • new services to enable users to discuss and assess the quality and impact of open content and data.

By its very nature, open science transcends national borders. A key goal of the prize is to stimulate international collaborations between innovators in this space and build links between the communities supported by the partner funders. The prize is open to international teams whose membership must include at least one US-based member and one member based in another country. Teams may include any combination of researchers and innovators working in any sector – be it in academic, commercial or not-for-profit organisations.

The prize consists of a two-phase competition. For the first phase, up to six teams will receive prizes of $80,000 to take new ideas for products or services to the prototype stage, or to further develop an existing early-stage prototype.

In the second phase, the team with the prototype judged to have the greatest potential to advance open science will receive a prize of $230,000.

We hope that the prize will stimulate interest, momentum and further investment in the emerging field of open science. Through inviting and backing innovative ideas and collaborations in this space, we also hope to build up a series of compelling exemplars which illustrate the innovative potential of sharing and re-using research outputs.

The Open Science Prize is open to entries until 29th February 2016 (yep, it’s a leap year!). Further information is available on the competition website, in our press release, or by emailing   

One Comment leave one →
  1. Alexander permalink
    24 Oct, 2015 4:59 am

    I always trusted in free scientific community. Now I trust in the valid big future of open science. Thanks!

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