48 teams, including IISc-GCDSL from India, reach final lap of USD 500k 'Pandemic Response Challenge'

·3-min read

New Delhi, Jan 25 (PTI) Forty-eight teams from 17 countries, including India, have advanced in Cognizant-sponsored USD 500,000 'Pandemic Response Challenge'.

XPRIZE and Cognizant on Monday said 48 teams from 17 countries are advancing to the final round of the competition that aims to harness the power of data and artificial intelligence (AI) in equipping policy makers, health officials, and business leaders.

This will provide the insights and guidance necessary to implement public safety measures and safely deliver the vaccine, maximising their ability to keep local economies open while minimising potential virus breakouts.

Additionally, organisers are hopeful that the Challenge will advance the use of AI and data in addressing other humanitarian challenges.

'The finalist teams were selected from 104 semi-finalists from 28 countries following an independent judging panel's assessment of teams' predictions of COVID-19 transmission rates and patterns,' according to a statement.

he 48 finalist teams are from countries including the US, Canada, Sweden, China, Romania, Italy, Spain, Nigeria, Slovenia, Australia, Greece, Iceland, Germany, Mexico, Denmark and France.

IISc-GCDSL from India is also part of the finalists.

'The top 3 finalist countries are US (20), Canada (6), and China (6). The Challenge received the most team pre-registrations overall from the US (42),' the statement said.

Cognizant Chief Executive Officer Brian Humphries said the finalists in the Pandemic Response Challenge have demonstrated incredible innovation in their efforts to help the world emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.

'Advancements these teams are making can have far-reaching implications — empowering policy makers and business leaders globally with data-driven tools, informing countries' decisions about their re-opening strategies, and proving the value of AI and collaboration in addressing future humanitarian crises,' he added.

Amir Banifatemi, chief innovation and growth officer of XPRIZE, said that within a very short time-frame, this challenge has shown encouraging results that leverage AI at the service of social impact.

'We set out to maximise the power of collaboration, competition, and innovation to accelerate solutions that could be applied to COVID-19 and future pandemics.

'We are excited to see how some of the top problem solvers are working towards this challenge, and we look forward to sharing their solutions with the world soon,' he added.

Launched in November last year, the Pandemic Response Challenge comprises two phases.

In phase-I that concluded earlier this month, contestants were tasked with analysing local COVID-19 data, intervention strategies, and mitigation policies to develop and test a prediction model that could anticipate global infection spikes.

The teams had access to foundational models from Cognizant's Evolutionary AI team, which applied artificial intelligence to COVID-19 data sourced from Oxford University and John Hopkins in Spring 2020.

Finalists have until February 3, 2021, to complete phase-II that involves developing a prescriptor model – or prescribed action plan – from a reference prediction model, which will be provided in phase-II.

Prescriptor models will be evaluated against key benchmarks, including minimising the number of cases and minimising the stringency (ie cost) of intervention plans.

Throughout phase-II, teams will be provided with cloud and computing services, courtesy of supporting partner AWS, to facilitate development of their proposed solutions.

Cognizant and XPRIZE will award a prize purse of USD 500,000 at the conclusion of the challenge on February 26, 2021. PTI SR HRS hrs