World news story

Race is on for Longitude Prize - a £10 million challenge to conserve antibiotics

It is the largest UK challenge prize and the first of its kind to be determined through a public vote.

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The race is on to find the winner of the Longitude Prize - a £10 million challenge aiming to conserve antibiotics for future generations, revolutionising global healthcare.

The prize commemorates the 300th anniversary of the Longitude Act of 1714, the first British challenge prize, to determine longitude at sea. It is being developed and delivered by Nesta and supported by Innovate UK as funding partner. Last year, with the support of the BBC and Amazon, the UK public decided the focus of the new Longitude Prize to be antibiotic resistance. The five year race has begun to develop a point-of-care test that will identify when antibiotics are needed and - if they are - which ones to use.

The promotion for the Longitude Prize in India began in New Delhi today with a panel discussion addressing one of the biggest challenges facing our world: how we tackle antimicrobial resistance. Participants included Dr. Vijay Raghavan, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology; Dr. Sunil Gupta, Additional Director, National Centre for Disease Control; Dr. Kamini Walia, ICMR; Dr. Sanjeev Chaudhry, Managing Director, SRL Diagnostics; Prof Ramanan Laxminarayan, Public Health Foundation of India and Tamar Ghosh, lead- Longitude Prize. Similar discussions will be held in Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Mumbai through this week.

So far 111 teams across the globe including 11 teams from India have registered, ranging from individual innovators to university teams and biotech and medtech companies.

Baron Professor Peter Piot, Longitude Prize Committee member, co-Chair of the Prize Advisory Panel and Director and Professor of Global Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said:

We’re delighted to see entries coming in for the prize from a number of countries at this first submission date. The prize is a tough challenge but it’s absolutely crucial to modern medicine, providing us with a ground-breaking tool which would save millions of lives through better treatment of infections. We need entrants with a broad range of skills and experiences across science and technology, and across the world, to create truly novel entries. The race has started and the prize can be won at any point in the next five years, so I encourage people to join in as soon as they can.

Zahid Latif, Head of Health and Care at Innovate UK said:

Antimicrobial resistance is one of the largest challenges facing the world today. If it is not suitably addressed, diseases that we think nothing of at the moment, will start becoming serious, potentially life threatening problems. This grand challenge needs radical thinking to find a solution. That’s what the Longitude Prize is about, and why we have provided significant funding for the prize. The greatest asset of start-ups and small businesses is their new ideas, and their entrepreneurial spirit, which is exactly what’s needed to solving a problem like this, and Innovate UK can help provide those businesses with the support and connections they need to make their ideas a reality.

The development of antibiotics is one of the great scientific achievements of our time. It has added an average of 20 years to our lives. Yet the rise of antimicrobial resistance is today threatening to make those antibiotics ineffective and common infections untreatable.

So the challenge is to find a way to create a cost-effective, accurate, rapid, and easy-to-use test for bacterial infections that will allow health professionals worldwide to administer the right antibiotics at the right time. The Longitude Prize will be awarded to a diagnostic tool that can rule out antibiotic use or help identify an effective antibiotic to treat a patient.

Further information:

Longitude Prize forms part of a wider global movement tackling antibiotic resistance which is taking shape to galvanise action. The UK government has added the issue to its global risk register, developed a UK strategy and established the AMR Review which has shown the potential cost of antibiotic resistance to be 300 million deaths and $100 trillion by 2050. The Wellcome Trust has brought partners together to form the £175 million Fleming Fund to build capacity and improve surveillance in low and middle income countries. This year the World Health Assembly ratified the Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance and the WHO announced the first World Antibiotic Awareness Week from 16 to 22 November.

Teams can continue registering at any time until the Prize is won by the end of 2019. Once registered teams can then compete to win once they are ready, at one of the four monthly submission dates. The first two deadlines were at the end of May and September 2015, and the next one is at the end of January 2016. Many submissions were reviewed by the Prize Advisory Panel, no one has won the Prize yet. The winner of the Longitude Prize could be selected at any stage between now and 2019 therefore we encourage teams to register and submit their entry as soon as possible.

A solution that meets the prize criteria will not only help conserve antibiotics for future generations but also revolutionise the delivery of global healthcare. The point of care test must:

  • provide a result within 30 minutes
  • be affordable to everyone who needs it
  • be accurate, to inform treatment decisions
  • be easy to use in any location, anywhere in the world

Keep informed about this exciting challenge by following us on Twitter @Longitude_prize and using the hash tag #LongitudePrize, liking us on Facebook/longitudeprize and signing up to our newsletter. Teams can find out more and register at the website

For media queries, please contact:

Stuart Adam, Head,
Press and Communications
British High Commission, Chanakyapuri
New Delhi 110021
Tel: 44192100; Fax: 24192411

Mail to: Sakthy Edamaruku

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Published 12 October 2015