COVID-19 open innovation index

COVID-19 open innovation index

60+ open innovation initiatives to address the coronavirus pandemic

Published March 25, 2020

Editor’s note: In February, Luminary Labs began tracking open innovation programs — from challenges and hackathons to open data projects and open-source hardware — that seek to address COVID-19 and the virus that causes it. In March, we started sourcing opportunities from our extended network via an online form. On March 18, we sent a special alert to our open innovation community with a list of more than two dozen initiatives; less than a week later, the list had doubled in size. We plan to keep this page updated with new open innovation programs as long as we can reasonably sustain it.

To receive updates in your inbox, sign up to receive our open innovation alerts. We’re also publishing a daily digest identifying opportunities for government and the private sector to accelerate meaningful innovation that addresses the coronavirus pandemic: Subscribe to receive CovidX emails.

Challenges and competitions

Montreal General Hospital Foundation’s Code Life Ventilator Challenge asks solvers to design a low-cost, simple, easy-to-use, and easy-to-build ventilator that can serve COVID patients in an emergency timeframe.

IBM’s 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge calls on developers to build open-source solutions “to make an immediate and lasting impact.” The challenge has expanded its focus to include COVID-19, in addition to climate change.

The Mercatus Center at George Mason University launched a series of prizes addressing a range of problems through its Emergent Ventures program. Alex Tabarrok also published “Grand Innovation Prizes to Address Pandemics: A Primer.”

With TechForce19, “NHSX is calling on all innovators who can support the elderly, vulnerable, and self-isolating during COVID-19 to apply for government funding of up to £25,000 to test their solution.”

Open IDEO’s COVID-19 Communication Inspiration Challenge wants to “rapidly inform and empower communities around the world to stay safe and healthy during the COVID-19 outbreak.”

The New York Academy of Science’s Combating COVID-19 challenge invites high school students to create tech-based solutions to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Innocentive has several open challenges related to COVID-19.

ICU Ventilators for COVID-19: Design and Manufacturing Challenge is asking solvers to develop “a low-cost, easy-to-build ventilator for hospitals in need.”

North Carolina’s Military Business Center announced the COVID-19 Innovation Challenge, “an open call for innovative capabilities that addresses the challenges presented by COVID-19” (submissions due March 31) and the DIY Hack-a-Vent Innovation Challenge, which seeks to to “develop a low-cost, non-FDA approved, mechanical ventilation support system that can be rapidly produced at local levels with widely available resources” (submissions due March 25).

The COVID 19 Solution Challenge, from India’s Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, asks for “technologies and innovative solutions, bioinformatics, datasets, apps for diagnosis, etc.”

MIT Solve: Health Security & Pandemics is seeking tech innovations that can slow and track the spread of an emerging outbreak.

CoVent-19 Challenge,“founded by residents at Massachusetts General Hospital, … will be a completely virtual open moonshot competition hosted on GrabCAD to develop a rapidly deployable mechanical ventilation solution.”


The European Commission is calling for startups and SMEs with technologies and innovations that could help in treating, testing, monitoring or other aspects of the coronavirus outbreak to apply for the EIC Accelerator.


The Pandemic Response Hackathon is “a virtual hackathon aimed at better understanding and mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and future pandemics.” 

COVID-19 Mutual Aid and Civic Hacking Efforts Global is an index of initiatives looking for support.

Topcoder Anti-Coronavirus Hackathon is sourcing ideas for apps or websites that would help government, organizations, or individuals.

Hack for Wuhan is a platform that gathers and collects information about hospitals, hotels, factories, logistics, donations, contributions, prevention, and treatment from reliable sources to help people and organizations communicate and coordinate their efforts.

COVID19CZ, a Czech “IT response group,” applies expertise in crowdsourcing and hackathons to rapidly develop open-source solutions that use bluetooth, location data, and transaction data to trace connections with infected people or places that become hotspots. They have also developed dynamic mobile wallet cards for fast information-sharing.

Ultimate Medical Hackathon is working to quickly design and deploy an open-source ventilator.

Open hardware and low-cost tools

Ontario’s government developed an online self-assessment tool that takes the public through a series of questions to inform those who are concerned they may have contracted COVID-19. (The code is open source.) Nova Scotia’s Digital Service also made code available for its own self-assessment tool.

Opentrons open-source lab automation platform includes open source hardware, verified labware, consumables, reagents, and workstations that can scale up COVID-19 testing by automating thousands of tests per day.

The Open Lung Low Resource Ventilator is a quick-deployment ventilator that utilizes a bag valve mask (BVM), also known as an Ambu-bag, as a core component.

The Pandemic Ventilator is a DIY ventilator prototype.

The Coronavirus Tech Handbook includes a list of open-source ventilators, oxygen concentrators, and more.

On Facebook, the COVID-19 Open Source Library is sharing ventilator projects, designs, and CAD files.

Chai’s Open qPCR device uses polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to rapidly test swabs from surfaces like door handles and elevator buttons to see if the novel coronavirus is present.

OpenPCR is a DIY open-source device with the same use case: environmental testing to identify the coronavirus in the field.

PocketPCR thermocycler can be powered by a simple USB power adapter and may facilitate environmental testing for coronavirus; the project is shared under a GPLv3.0 license.

Just One Giant Lab (JOGL) is “developing and sharing open-source methodologies to safely test for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 using multiple approaches.”

Bart Collet’s public document includes an extensive list of open-source initiatives and low-cost options for ventilators, face masks, telehealth, disinfection, and more.

Project Open Air is developing an open-source ventilator that can be locally reproduced and assembled.

Open Source Ventilator (OSV) is convening engineers, 3D printers, makers, designers, and medical professionals to develop and test low-cost ventilators.

Crowdsourcing and volunteer networks

MIT Hacking Medicine COVID-19 Collaboration is a virtual platform and community that collects problems and needs, helps teams self-assemble, and showcases solutions that can be used by local teams on the ground. 

Catalyst @ Health 2.0 is publishing open calls for solutions, including Brigham and Women’s Emergency Department’s call for provider-facing, text-based platforms to help healthcare professionals self-monitor symptoms of coronavirus, report burnout, and access resources.

ChangeX is “mobilizing a community response to COVID-19” and asking for “great ideas and community leaders.”

Google’s Hack to Help: COVID-19 page is a compilation of “the small hacks people are making to help in any way they can.”

The Emergency Design Collective is looking to collect designs and best practices for DIY masks and PPE, as well as identify teams, labs, and companies who can produce at scale.

Crowdhelix is “seeking researchers and innovators worldwide with a strong track record of excellence in fields relevant to the global effort to tackle the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic” and is offering free access to its online open innovation platform for experts collaborating to develop R&D funding proposals.

3D Printer and Talent Crowdsourcing for COVID-19 asks those with 3D printers, talent, or design expertise to share with hospitals. Responses to the online form will be made available through a public spreadsheet.

A tool to test drug candidates against COVID-19 calls on PC gamers to put spare clock cycles toward advancing humanity’s scientific knowledge of coronavirus. The program links computers into an international network that uses distributed processing power to chew through massive computing tasks.

CovidHelper is an automated system that matches low-risk COVID-19 demographics with nearby high-risk demographics who are unable to leave their homes and need help buying groceries or medicines. When someone requests help, an automated email is sent to all nearby registered helpers with the requester’s contact details.

Help with Covid is a new website sourcing projects in need of engineers; volunteers can review opportunities and sign up to help.

Open data, open research, and information sharing

Covid Act Now is a regional impact projection tool with an open-source model, created to help leaders make informed decisions about responding to the pandemic.

StartupBlink is creating a Coronavirus Innovation Map of solutions from around the world.

SG Against Covid 19 is a “real-time surveillance and data broadcasting dashboard” of the outbreak in Singapore.

JAMA issued a call for ideas: “Conserving Supply of Personal Protective Equipment.”

The COVID Tracking Project continues to collect information from 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and five other U.S. territories to build a more comprehensive view of U.S. testing data. The initiative makes raw data available for download and offers an open API.

CoEpi — Community Epidemiology in Action is a mobile app enabling contact tracing and symptom sharing.

COVID-19 Open Research Dataset Challenge (CORD-19) calls on AI experts to develop text and data mining tools that can help the medical community develop answers to high-priority scientific questions.

A crowdsourced guide for converting operating rooms to ICUs compiles best practices for using existing operating rooms, anesthesia machines, and perioperative personnel to prepare for overwhelmed ICUs and address a critical care bed shortage.

Polyplexus Cross Disciplinary Coronavirus Incubator is soliciting published evidence (in the form of micropublications) and emergent hypotheses (in the form of conjectures) that could lead to innovative research concepts to mitigate the spread and impact of a pandemic.

Federation of American Scientists answers COVID-19 questions, providing prompt access to accurate information.

Funding and matching

University of Colorado Boulder’s Natural Hazards Center announced a special call for quick-response research related to coronavirus and COVID-19, focusing on funding “studies that examine how COVID-19 is affecting potentially vulnerable or marginalized populations, healthcare workers, and other frontline responders, various organizations, and communities.” Proposals to collect perishable data will be accepted until April 1 at midnight MDT.

Global Innovation Exchange is developing a directory of potential ideas and innovations that may be relevant to COVID-19.

BARDA is soliciting proposals for advanced development and licensure of COVID-19 diagnostics, vaccines, or medicines such as therapeutics or antivirals.

The AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative (DDI) is offering technical support and providing AWS promotional credits to support the use of AWS services to advance diagnostic research for selected institutions and companies.

Nigeria’s CcHUB is looking to fund and provide research and design support, via its Design Lab, for COVID-19 related projects.

StartUp Health Call for COVID-19 Innovation is investing in innovators from around the world working on direct or indirect solutions for mitigating, managing, or treating coronavirus or future pandemics.

Sam Altman is funding COVID-19 startups and projects working on ventilators and PPE production, screening existing drugs for effectiveness, novel approaches to vaccines, and novel therapeutics.

NYC Tech Corona Volunteer Efforts is a Slack group that aims to match its members with incoming requests.