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article imageQ&A: Insight into XPRIZE's Pandemic Alliance Special

By Tim Sandle     Jun 9, 2020 in Science
XPRIZE partnered with Anthem, Intel, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and more to launch the XPRIZE Pandemic Alliance, a global coalition to accelerate solutions that can be applied to health pandemics.
To discover more, Digital Journal caught up with Amir Banifatemi on your radar, the General Manager for Innovation and Growth at XPRIZE, a global non-profit known for developing and managing prize competitions to find solutions to global challenges. The latest XPRIZE initiative is the Pandemic Alliance.
Digital Journal: What inspired you get involved with XPRIZE?
Amir Banifatemi: The opportunity to challenge all problem solvers that are thinking about making an impact in the world isn’t regularly given to us. XPRIZE, via its mission, and it 25 years long demonstrated efforts is the organization that focuses on this everyday, and how can one not take this opportunity to work on a new challenge everyday and be interacting with the best minds out there.
DJ: What are some of XPRIZE’s past achievements?
Banifatemi: The very first XPRIZE (the Ansari XPRIZE) spurred the private spaceflight industry and created exponential breakthroughs. Since then, we have launched over $140 million in prize purses, including in the areas of global education, adult literacy water abundance, oil cleanup, women’s safety and more. Each of our competitions has created an industry-changing technology that brings us closer to a better, safer, more sustainable world.
DJ: What is the XPRIZE Pandemic Alliance?
Banifatemi: The XPRIZE Pandemic Alliance is an initiative that combines the power of collaboration, competition, shared innovation, and radical thinking to accelerate solutions that can be applied to COVID-19 and future pandemics. It was launched to address the immediate needs of the current crisis and to accelerate new solutions. There have been few times in recent history when a global pandemic has affected so many people. We felt compelled to assemble a braintrust across industries to leverage technological innovation for the benefit of humankind. Although the Alliance will roll out with phases similar to prior XPRIZE competitions, there will be features unique to this initiative including a series of rapid data challenges and access to Anthem’s largest certified, anonymized data set.
DJ: What types of organizations are involved?
Banifatemi: This global alliance includes some of the world’s top innovators, clinicians, researchers, data scientists, institutions, and experts. In addition to our launching partner, Anthem, other notable global partners that have already agreed to join the Alliance include United States Department of Veterans Affairs, Ending Pandemics, Intel, Illumina, IEEE Standards Association, MIT Solve, C2 International, Cloudbreak Health, the Foundation Botnar, McGill University, Nvidia, the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, PPE Coalition, and UCSD. XPRIZE is actively calling for more partners and members to join the Alliance.
DJ: How can data and technology help tackle the current pandemic?
Banifatemi: It is no secret that the global community of machine learning and technology is currently working at responding to various challenges that covid19 has brought in front of us. We believe that various sources of data are important to be made available to accelerate the solution development and supporting local and global efforts in handling logistical issues, medical equipments, planification of frontline resources, testing at large scale, better prevention and alerting, evaluating treatment options, and getting us back to work.
DJ: How will you measure success?
Banifatemi: We think success comes from (1) creating challenges that have immediate local benefits and/or supporting existing efforts and allowing the power of convening that xprize has to bring attention to those efforts, (2) to show collaboration in data sharing efforts, and (3) working with other alliances and coalitions to accelerate our “going back to normal.”
DJ: What would you like the legacy of XPRIZE Pandemic Alliance to achieve?
Banifatemi: Via this effort, we are hoping to create and make available frameworks of responses for future pandemics, and create knowledge and tools to be more resilient towards the unknown.
More about Xprize, Pandemic, Covid19
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