What we’re working on: Powering scientific innovation for FDA

Open Innovation, Government

Last year, we began working with the FDA on a prize competition to help their scientists gain access to breakthrough technologies that could improve the detection of foodborne pathogens. With 1 in 6 Americans sickened by foodborne illness annually, and 3,000 deaths each year, the need for innovation was clear.

With a $500K prize purse, the multi-stage challenge attracted interest from national media, industry, and academia, drawing 49 submissions that spanned a wide spectrum of scientific approaches. From this pool, 5 finalists were chosen to enter the Field Accelerator, where they iterated their concepts under the guidance of expert FDA mentors. At Demo Day, the finalists presented their solutions to the Challenge judges and a live audience, highlighting how their solutions could meet the demands of the FDA’s testing process from farm to fork.  

We’re now excited to share news of the Challenge winners: cheers to the Purdue University and Pronucleotein, Inc. teams!  

The grand prize winner, the Purdue University team, was awarded $300,000 for their submission, a physical method for concentrating Salmonella to detectable levels using automated microfiltration. This technology could significantly speed up detection of Salmonella by cutting the sample preparation time from 24-48 hours to 2-3 hours. The runner-up winner, Pronucleotein, Inc., was awarded $100,000 for their submission, which features a portable device for rapid pathogen screening using DNA aptamer-magnetic bead sandwich assays (say what?).

We would like to thank everyone who helped spread the word about the Challenge, and share some select tweets from along the way:

We are elated to have worked with the FDA on this innovative initiative, and congratulate each of the finalists for their hard work. As FDA’s Palmer Orlandi stated at Demo Day, “this is where it all begins”. Read more about our open innovation practice.