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14 September, 2020 - 11:25 By Tony Quested

Cambridge University in £10 million HealthTech initiative

The University of Cambridge has joined a coalition of some of the world’s leading businesses and academic and technology institutions to launch The Trinity Challenge. 

The global challenge provides a £10 million prize fund for breakthrough solutions to make sure one billion more people are better protected against health emergencies.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation along with US technology giants Google, Microsoft and Facebook are among the founding members.

University of Cambridge vice-chancellor Stephen Toope says: “COVID-19 has highlighted the power of data in helping us understand and tackle health emergencies, but it has also revealed the challenges we face in getting the right data to the right people at the right time.

“We need to up our collaborative game so that we cross sectors, disciplines and borders to help us tackle – and even prevent – future health emergencies. The Trinity Challenge is an exciting opportunity to make this happen.”

The Trinity Challenge sets a series of urgent questions to harness the potential of data and analytics to learn and share lessons from the great innovations made to combat COVID-19 and to build resilience against future health emergencies. 

The £10m funding will be made available to teams to support and scale their innovations across areas including economics, behavioural sciences, and epidemiology. 

The Challenge has been convened by Dame Sally Davies, Master of Trinity College, Cambridge. Its founding members represent a diverse coalition of world leading organisations across the private, public and social sectors. 

All are united by the common aim of using data and advanced analytics to develop insights and practical actions to contribute to a world better protected from health emergencies. 

Launching the Challenge, Dame Sally said: “There will be another COVID-19 and there is an opportunity for the international community to learn lessons now and prepare for the future.

“The Trinity Challenge is a recognition by business, academia and philanthropy of the need for new, breakthrough ideas and approaches to beat the next pandemic.” 

Professor Carola-Bibiane Schönlieb and Anna Vignoles, co-chairs of the Cambridge Centre for Data-Driven Discovery, will be providing leadership on behalf of the University.

Professor Schönlieb said: “Cambridge is supporting The Trinity Challenge not only because of our expertise and ability to contribute to tackling this pandemic but also because of our key role in producing the next generation of scientists who will be needed to tackle this and future public health threats of this kind.”

Professor Vignoles added: “Our University is world leading in many aspects of the science needed to tackle this pandemic. We are also world leading in terms of our data science. 

“The Cambridge Centre for Data-Driven Discovery convenes data science expertise from right across Cambridge and is highly interdisciplinary in its focus. We have been working closely with The Trinity Challenge team to determine what data we need and how we might use it to address this pandemic.”

The Trinity Challenge is calling on global participants to submit impact-led ideas on how to safeguard our health and economic systems from the threat of global health emergencies. 

Submissions that make the selection will be supported with access to people, data and resources from Founding Members, to maximise the effectiveness of their solutions and leverage the world-leading expertise and innovation of these institutions. 

Challenge Teams will focus on potential solutions that support and strengthen the global public health ecosystem in a robust and inclusive way. Solutions will be fielded globally through an open and accessible submission process to bring the best minds and ideas together with the aim of developing insights that will benefit the world in the future. 

The founding members are: Aviva, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Brunswick Group, University of Cambridge, Discovery Limited, Facebook, Global Virome Project, Google, HKUMed, Imperial College London, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Internews, Legal and General, LSE, McKinsey and Company, Microsoft, Northeastern University, Optum, Reckitt Benckiser, Tencent, Zenysis Technology.

• Full details are available on The Trinity Challenge website.
 

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