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XPRIZE and Cognizant Announce Pandemic Response Challenge to Safely Reopen Societies and Restart Economies Around the World

XPRIZE and Cognizant Announce Pandemic Response Challenge to Safely Reopen Societies and Restart Economies Around the World


New $500K, four-month competition aims to accelerate use of artificial intelligence to minimize coronavirus infection cases while reducing the economic cost of lockdowns


As COVID-19 rates continue to surge in countries around the world, XPRIZE, the world’s leader in designing and operating incentive competitions to solve humanity’s grand challenges, in partnership with Cognizant (Nasdaq: CTSH), one of the world's leading technology and professional services companies, has launched the Pandemic Response Challenge. The competition aims to harness the power of data and artificial intelligence in equipping policymakers, health officials, and business leaders with the insights and guidance necessary to implement public safety measures that maximize their ability to keep local economies open while minimizing potential virus breakouts.


Reports indicate that a COVID-19 vaccine may be on the horizon, making the speed at which populations are vaccinated a key variable in considering strategies for safely reopening society and restoring the global economy.


Based on technology and AI models developed by Cognizant, and using data compiled by the Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker (based at Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government), competing teams will build data-driven AI models that predict local COVID-19 transmission rates and prescribe intervention and mitigation measures that, with testing in “what-if” scenarios, are shown to minimize infection rates as well as negative economic impacts. Successful models may also serve as a roadmap for future crises.


“This challenge will inspire some of the world’s brightest innovators to address the immediate threats to our economies and our livelihoods,” said Amir Banifatemi, Chief Innovation and Growth Officer of XPRIZE. “Through global collaboration, the output of this challenge could be a game changer when it comes to using data and AI to create a route to recovery via a range of economic scenarios created by the competing teams. With vaccines on the horizon, these predictive and prescriptive models for opening society will continue to be valuable for the foreseeable future.”


“The road forward on reopening global economies will be paved by collaboration,” said Brian Humphries, Chief Executive Officer of Cognizant. “We are pleased to partner with XPRIZE in drawing together a global, cross-disciplined ecosystem of innovators to put their AI expertise to work in helping us emerge from this pandemic. As these teams leverage Cognizant’s foundational Evolutionary AI™ research, we look forward to the solutions they will contribute in helping decision-makers address COVID-19 and future humanitarian crises.”


“COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of AI’s ability to predict impending outbreaks of disease and accurately diagnose symptoms,” said Chaesub Lee, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau. “The potential of AI to advance health has been a longstanding pillar of the AI for Good movement co-organized with XPRIZE. Responding to this critical issue, I am pleased to continue our valuable partnership and support the Pandemic Response Challenge.”


The Pandemic Response Challenge is the first competition to launch out of XPRIZE’s AI and Data for Good Alliance, a brain trust focused on enabling and cultivating actionable and tangible solutions to some of the world's most immediate challenges through the use of data sciences, machine learning and AI.


A total prize purse of $500K will be awarded at the conclusion of the challenge, which will close in February 2021. Unlike other XPRIZE competitions, the urgency to end the COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating effects has led Cognizant and XPRIZE to drive an accelerated four-month timeframe for the Pandemic Response Challenge. Teams must register to join the competition by December 8, 2020. In Phase 1, teams will provide accurate predictions of COVID-19 transmission based on local data, unique intervention strategies, and mitigation policies and practices by December 22, 2020. In Phase 2, the top 50 teams will provide prescriptor models that will be evaluated against minimizing the number of cases and minimizing the stringency (i.e. cost) of the Intervention Plans (IPs). Phase 2 will conclude in February 2021. Throughout each phase, teams will be provided with cloud and compute services, courtesy of supporting partner, AWS, in order to facilitate development of their proposed solutions. To date, 102 teams from 23 countries have registered to participate.


With partners including Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government, Intel, The International Telecom Union (ITU), the City of Los Angeles, The University of Texas at Austin, WorldQuant Predictive, Alpha Intelligence Capital, and AIQ, XPRIZE has recruited the following global experts to join the Pandemic Response Challenge Advisory Board:


  1. Philipp Roesler, Former Vice-Chancellor and Federal Minister of Economy and Technology for Germany
  2. Toby Phillips, Head of Research & Policy, Digital Pathways at Oxford, Blavatnik School of Government; Executive Director, Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker
  3. Jeanne Holm, Deputy Mayor of Budget and Innovation, City of Los Angeles
  4. Stacey Shulman, Vice President, Internet of Things Group, Intel Corporation; General Manager, Health, Life Sciences and Emerging Technologies
  5. Lauren Meyers, Professor, Departments of Integrative Biology and Statistics & Data Sciences, Director, UT COVID-19 Modeling Consortium
  6. Melissa Rowe, Vice President, Global Research Talent, RAND Corporation
  7. Dr. Paulo Chapchap, CEO, Hospital Sírio-Libanês
  8. Mariya Filipova, Health Transformation Catalyst
  9. Thor Aspelund, Professor, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Iceland


For more information on the challenge guidelines and team registration, visit

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Last Updated: 19-Nov-2020