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Funders Reflect on Lessons Learned in Funding International Open Science Prize

Funders Reflect on Lessons Learned in Funding International Open Science Prize

The National Institutes of Health and UK-based Wellcome Trust, in partnership with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, published their reflections on developing and implementing the Open Science Prize, a novel approach for funding international open science. The paper titled, Developing International Open Science Collaborations – Funder Reflections on the Open Science Prize, published in PLOS Biology on August 1, 2017, highlights a new partnership funding model for encouraging the development of open data technologies to address global health issues, and the challenges of multiple funders pursuing joint global health technology initiatives. The paper also provides a series of reflections addressing topics such as partnership development and sustainability.

Prize competitions have received increased attention within the U.S. federal government with the passage of the America Competes Re-Authorization Act of 2010 . The article points to the importance of aligning policies, procedures and regulations of the various funding agencies when engaging in joint prize competitions. The collaboration for this competition led to the inclusion of international participants, a larger purse for winners, and a shared responsibility for the costs of running the challenge.

“The Open Science Prize model accelerates team science and exemplifies the force multiplier effect that can occur when funding agencies join forces around a common goal,” said Patricia Flatley Brennan, RN, PhD, NIH Interim Associate Director for Data Science, and director, National Library of Medicine. “At times of declining budgets, leveraging resources through partnerships can be a key strategy for promoting innovation.”

The Open Science Prize was a global competition designed to foster innovative solutions in public health and biomedicine using open digital content. The prize, which was launched in October 2015, aims to forge new international collaborations that bring together open science innovators to develop services and tools of benefit to the global research community. The grand prize winner, Real-time Evolutionary Tracking for Pathogen Surveillance and Epidemiological Investigation(link is external), created its is external) prototype that uses real-time visualization and viral genome data to track the spread of global pathogens such as Zika and Ebola. Prototypes developed by the six finalists can be accessed at: is external).

About the Open Science Prize: The Open Science Prize is made possible through a collaboration between the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the UK-based Wellcome Trust, with additional funds provided by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute of Chevy Chase, Maryland. The NIH effort is part of the Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) initiative, launched in December 2013 as a trans-NIH program with funding from all 27 institutes and centers as well as the NIH Common Fund. A complete description of the competition can be found at: is external).

About Wellcome: Wellcome(link is external) exists to improve health for everyone by helping great ideas to thrive. Wellcome is a global charitable foundation, both politically and financially independent. It supports scientists and researchers, takes on big problems, fuels imaginations and sparks debate.

About the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI): The Howard Hughes Medical Institute(link is external) plays a powerful role in advancing scientific research and education in the United States. Its scientists, located across the country and around the world, have made important discoveries that advance both human health and our fundamental understanding of biology. The Institute also aims to transform science education into a creative, interdisciplinary endeavor that reflects the excitement of real research.

About the National Library of Medicine (NLM): The world’s largest biomedical library, NLM maintains and makes available a vast print collection and produces electronic information resources on a wide range of topics that are searched billions of times each year by millions of people around the globe. It also supports and conducts research, development, and training in biomedical informatics and health information technology. Additional information is available at

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the United States’ medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

Since its founding in 1836, the National Library of Medicine has played a pivotal role in translating biomedical research into practice and is a leader in information innovation. NLM is the world's largest medical library, and millions of scientists, health professionals and the public around the world use NLM services every day.