News story

Longitude Prize: Antibiotic resistance challenge opens

Challenge opens for entries to develop a test to detect infections and ensure right antibiotics are used at the right time.

computer image of two hands with a drug capsule

Image of antibiotics - the challenge for the Longitude Prize 2014

The £10 million Longitude Prize challenge, co-funded by Innovate UK, is now open for entries.

The theme, antibiotic resistance, was chosen by the public from a shortlist of six possible challenges and revealed on the BBC’s The One Show earlier this year.

The World Health Organization has already warned of a ‘post-antibiotic era’ where people will die from previously treatable infections if key drugs no longer work.

Entries are being sought for a test to detect and understand infections, and ensure the right antibiotics are used at the right time.

Raising awareness of a UK health threat

A Nesta survey of more than 2,000 people published today, 18 November (European Antibiotics Awareness Day), emphasises how seriously the UK public view antibiotic resistance as a threat to public health:

  • 78% of respondents are concerned about antibiotics resistance
  • nearly 1 in 5 see it as the UK’s greatest health threat - second only to cancer

History of a revolutionary prize

The 2014 Longitude Prize competition is based on the 1714 Longitude Prize won by John Harrison. His winning clock design meant sailors could pinpoint their exact position at sea for the first time.

It has been developed by Nesta and was launched by Prime Minister David Cameron at the G8 summit last year.

Longitude Prize 2014 logo

Geoff Mulgan, chief executive of Nesta and Longitude Prize committee member said:

The public have quickly gained a very sophisticated understanding of antibiotic resistance as a prime example of how the very things which deliver progress also bring new problems in their wake.

Our hope is that the combination of the prize and greater awareness of the problem will fuel a dramatic acceleration in the search for solutions, many of which will be surprising and from unexpected sources.

Competitors now have 5 years to find a solution to the problem of antibiotic resistance. A successful test will need to:

  • show when antibiotics are needed and if they are which ones to use
  • be accurate enough to inform treatment decisions
  • be affordable to everyone who needs it
  • provide a result within 30 minutes
  • be easy to use in any location, anywhere in the world

Find out more at for the full competition criteria.

Keep informed by following Longitude Prize 2014 on Twitter at #LongitudePrize and sign up to the newsletter at

Published 18 November 2014