INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana's life sciences initiative is launching a new competition designed to help solve two health issues facing Hoosiers: diabetes and opioid abuse. BioCrossroads says the DataX BioInnovation Challenge was created to "intersect life sciences and data research," giving innovators the opportunity to use data sets to identify and investigate hypotheses to improve the health issues. The winning team or teams could receive up to $50,000 in cash.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business Reporter Mary-Rachel Redman, BioCrossroads Chief Scientific Officer Vanessa Barth said she hopes the challenge creates more energy around how to bring together the assets Indiana currently has.

"We have a lot of industries with a lot of strengths," said Barth. "When we think about our tech community over in the B2B space, when we think about our life sciences and engineering assets, they all are very high-quality, high-class organizations (and) collaborations, but how do we start to get them to play together, come together, and also think about how we spread those interactions into the academic setting? So it's really about how we come together as a single community and how we can be a model for other states to do that as well."

Barth says the challenge builds off BioCrossroads' New Venture Competition and the Inject Tech Challenge, which was piloted last year.

The challenge is looking for participants including individuals, labs and startups from throughout the country to "identify and explore critical issues in diabetes health and opioid addiction" using public data as a springboard. BioCrossroads says teams may be within a corporate group, academic institution, independent, or any combination of the three.

Participants can choose from a variety of proposals, including:

  • A focus on diabetes care or opioid addiction- both health issues impacting Hoosiers. 
  • A hypothesis using insights from data sets relating to how the health issue could be improved.
  • Description of an experiment that would test the hypothesis using data sets and/or biological samples. 
  • Hypotheses and proposed solutions must be data driven.
  • Hypotheses and proposed solutions should focus on improvements that impact disease identification, management, diagnosis, and/or treatment.
  • Impact can be at the patient, provider, and/or health care systems network level.

The participating teams do not have to be based in Indiana, though BioCrossroads says the winning team will be expected to engage the local community and required to share the results of their experiment at the 2020 Indiana Life Sciences Summit.

"We're going to focus on those Hoosier health challenges, but we're opening up entrance to a national level," said Barth. "We're looking for innovators, idea generators, solution providers, folks who wrangle data, like to work in a team, but we're looking for that at a national level to solve local issues that we also see projected on a national and global scale. So, how do we start to see those ideas that could form companies that could provide solutions not just for our state, but for all the other states and on a global scale?"

Submissions for the DataX BioInnovation Challenge will be accepted through the end of January 2020. You can learn more about the challenge by clicking here.

The announcement of the challenge was made Thursday during the 2019 Indiana Life Sciences Summit. During the event, BioCrossroads also named Dr. Clem J. McDonald the recipient of the 2019 August M. Watanabe Life Sciences Champion of the Year Award. You can read more about the award and hear from McDonald by clicking here.