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The European Commission today launched a €5 million prize to find the best solution for setting up an early warning system for epidemics.

It is one of six European Innovation Council (EIC) Horizon Prizes, which are part of the European Innovation Council pilot run under Horizon 2020, the EU's Research and Innovation Framework Programme.

The prize will be awarded for the development of a scalable, reliable and cost-effective early warning prototype system using Earth observation data and other kinds of geo-located data to forecast and monitor outbreaks of vector-borne diseases such as malaria, zika, dengue or yellow fever.

The competition was launched by Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, in Bulgaria during the 3rd Annual Scientific Seminar of the Disaster Risk Management Knowledge Centre.

Commissioner Moedas said:

Every year there are over one million reported deaths from vector-borne diseases globally. Their societal impact is significant, often causing disability, stigmatisation and exacerbating poverty. This EIC prize will be a launchpad for innovators to find solutions that help prevent future outbreaks and improve life quality. 

Vector-borne diseases are caused by viruses, bacteria and parasites transmitted via living organisms such as insects and account for more than 17% of all infectious diseases. Globalisation of travel and trade, unplanned urbanisation and environmental challenges such as climate change are having a significant impact on disease transmission.

The winning solution will provide an early warning capability to support existing elimination efforts and to help mitigate the impact of infectious diseases on local, regional and global scales. It will be expected to use Earth observation data from the Copernicus Programme and the Global Earth Observations System of Systems (GEOSS), as well as epidemiological and other kinds of geo-located data such as socioeconomic data. In addition, climate information could be used to monitor and predict distribution and longer-term trends.

The deadline to apply is 1 September 2020. More information including the Rules of Contest is now available on the EIC website.

 

Background

The 2018-20 Work Programme of Horizon 2020, published on 27 October 2017, introduced measures to support market-creating innovation through a pilot phase of the European Innovation Council. With a budget of €2.7 billion, the EIC pilot brings together existing instruments such as the SME Instrument, Inducement Prizes, Future and Emerging Technologies, and Fast Track to Innovation.

EIC Horizon Prizes are particularly ambitious as they are expected to trigger innovations in areas where important societal problems need to be solved. These Prizes call for breakthrough solutions which should demonstrate their feasibility or potential so that innovators can take them quickly to the market.

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