IISc-GCDSL reaches the final round of XPrize’s $500K Pandemic Response Challenge

IISc-GCDSL reaches the final round of XPrize’s $500K Pandemic Response Challenge
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27 Jan, 2021

India’s IISc-GCDSL has been named one of the finalists at XPrize’s $500K Pandemic Response Challenge.

Non-profit organisation XPrize in partnership with IT (information technology) services giant Cognizant on Monday announced the top 48 teams across 17 countries in the phase 2 or final round of the challenge. 

The top three countries to reach the finals are US (20), Canada (6), and China (6).

Founded in 1990, Bengaluru based IISc-GCDSL or Indian Institute of Science’s  Guidance, Control and Decision Systems Laboratory (GCDSL) is a robotics research centre. 

This year, the competition aims to utilise the power of  data and artificial intelligence (AI) in equipping policymakers, health officials, and business leaders with insights and guidance necessary to implement public safety measures and safely deliver the vaccine.  

Additionally, organisers hope the challenge will advance the use of AI and data in addressing other humanitarian challenges.

“The finalists in the Pandemic Response Challenge have demonstrated incredible innovation in their efforts to help the world emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Brian Humphries, chief executive officer, Cognizant said in a statement.

Launched in November 2020, the challenge happened in two phases. In the first phase concluded earlier this month, contestants had to analyse 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 Cognizant’s foundational models of the Evolutionary AI team, which applied artificial intelligence to COVID-19 data sourced from Oxford University and John Hopkins in Spring 2020.

The phase 2 ends on February 3, when the teams have to develop a prescriptor model – or prescribed action plan – from a reference prediction model. Prescriptor models will be evaluated against key benchmarks, including minimizing the number of cases and minimizing the stringency (i.e. cost) of intervention plans. Throughout Phase 2, teams will be provided with cloud and computing services, courtesy of supporting partner AWS, to facilitate development of their proposed solutions.

“We set out to maximize 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,” Amir Banifatemi, chief innovation and growth officer, XPrize said in a statement.

Cognizant and XPRIZE will award a prize purse of $500K at the conclusion of the challenge on February 26, 2021.