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Winners of The Trinity Challenge 2021 announced!

The Trinity Challenge awards £1.3 million (US$1.8 million) in pledged funding to its Grand Prize Winner: Participatory One Health Disease Detection (PODD) from OpenDream in Thailand, which turns farmers into disease detectives to serve as a front-line surveillance system, to prevent disease spill-over from animals. 

  • The Trinity Challenge announces the winners of its inaugural competition, and is investing a £5.7 million (US$8 million) charitable pledged prize fund into one Grand Prize Winner, two 2nd prize winners, and five 3rd prize winners.
  • The eight winners have been selected by a prestigious international panel of expert judges, out of a total of 340 applications from 61 countries, narrowed down to 16 finalists and 15 ‘Highly Commended’ teams.
  • The competition, launched in September 2020 by England’s former Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies, has seen unprecedented collaborations between the private, public, charitable and academic sectors, and will drive a step-change in using data and analytics for pandemic preparedness.
  • The virtual Awards Ceremony has been live streamed to a global audience eager to connect with the eight winners of this inaugural Trinity Challenge. 

The Trinity Challenge has today (25th June 2021) recognised Participatory One Health Disease Detection (PODD) as the Grand Prize Winner at the inaugural Awards Ceremony, hosted by Dame Sally Davies, and PODD is being awarded £1.3 million (US$1.8 million) in pledged funding. 

This project empowers farmers to identify and report zoonotic diseases that could potentially pass from animals to humans, triggering another pandemic.

Led by Patipat Susumpow, General Director at OpenDream, PODD (pronounced PO-DEE-DEE) has developed a platform for livestock owners to report suspected animal illness, and in return receive veterinary care to improve animal health. If it appears a disease outbreak is likely, local health officials will quarantine the sick animals, saving the remaining livestock and possibly preventing the next COVID-19-type outbreak. 

Having already achieved significant success in Thailand, with a network of 20,000 farmers helping to detect and control disease outbreaks, PODD is looking to expand its operations to Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Uganda and Vietnam over the next three years. 

The Trinity Challenge has also recognised seven additional winners who represent a diverse set of approaches using data and analytics for pandemic preparedness and recovery. Two solutions  have each won a 2nd prize award of £1 million (US$ 1.4 million) in pledged funding: The Sentinel Forecasting System for Infectious Disease Risk and Blood Counts!  

The Sentinel Forecasting System will help predict the emergence of new diseases in West Africa, starting with Lassa fever. The work is headed by Kate Jones of University College London, working with Professor Christian Happi, Director of the African Center of excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases in Nigeria, and other researchers in universities in the UK and USA. By integrating real-time data on viruses circulating in animals, land use, and past spill-over incidents, they will enable public health authorities to forecast infectious disease risk and prevent spill-over of hemorrhagic fevers like Ebola and Lassa.

Blood Counts!, led by Carola-Bibiane Schönlieb, University of Cambridge, is seeking to take 3.6 billion Complete Blood Count (CBC) tests and turn them into a broad disease surveillance network with no need for new procedures or equipment. Their machine learning algorithms have been able to take the vast number of unused data points per test and see changes that are indicative of disease and have proven effective at picking up the presence  of COVID-19 in the UK.

Additionally, five 3rd prize winners are each being awarded £480,000 (US$ 660,000) in pledged funding. MedShr Insights and Early Warning System, led by Dr Asif Qasim, founder and CEO of MedShr in the UK, will analyse its base of physician-generated data to identify outbreaks and alert governments, NGOs and academic organisations on a not-for-profit basis. Khushi Health: Data-Driven Response to COVID-19 in India, led by Ruchit Nagar, co-founder and director of Khushi Baby, and Living Goods: Supporting Digitally Enabled CHWs to Strengthen Health Systems, led by Sheila Mutheu Kioko in Kenya, Manager of Digital Health Partnerships at Living Goods, will strengthen the healthcare systems in India and East Africa, respectively, with digital tools and improved data collection to support community health workers. VaccineLedger: Ensure quality and safety of the vaccines, led by Sid Chakravarthy, Founder and CEO of StaTwig in India, is a UNICEF Innovation Fund Portfolio startup/World Economic Forum Global Innovator using block-chain technology to ensure no vaccine goes to waste. Led by Sheree Pagsuyoin, Professor in the Engineering department at University of Massachusetts Lowell in the US, the Disease Surveillance with Multi-modal Sensor Network & Data Analytics is a  wireless sensor network, with patented sensor technologies, that detects pathogens in air and water up to one week before cases present in humans. 

Dame Sally Davies said: “It was crystal clear at the beginning of this pandemic that the world had a lack of data,  a lack of access to data, and a lack of interoperability of data, presenting  a challenge. While others talked, we took action. The solutions we have discovered in the course of the Challenge will be a link between systems and countries”.

In addition to financial support, The Trinity Challenge will provide connections to the right organisations to maximise the impact of these solutions. Since its inception nine months ago, TTC has united early applicants with partners from the private, academic and social sectors to receive access to digital platforms, data, and technical advice, to scale-up the use of data and analytics to protect the world from future health emergencies. The Trinity Challenge has helped form over 200 connections between applicants and its members. 

Alex Ng, Vice President of Tencent Healthcare, shared that, “the most enjoyable part of this journey is when teams pitch ideas and receive instant feedback and find willingness from others to collaborate. It is pretty much like an auction house, but what we are selling is a data-driven insurance for the next pandemic."

Over the next three years, the 16 finalists will benefit from The Trinity Challenge’s platforms for new connections and networking. The Awards Ceremony clearly illustrate that: 

  • Applicants have been shortlisted based on how scalable, impactful and equitable their proposed solutions are for improving global health security. 
  • The finalists have been judged by an independent panel of world-renowned experts, including Jacqueline Miller (Moderna’s Senior Vice President of Infectious Diseases), Roopa Dhatt (Executive Director, Women in Global Health), and Githinji Gitahi (Chief Executive Officer, Amref Health Africa).

The winners have been announced at The Trinity Challenge’s virtual Awards Ceremony on 25th June, at which Dame Sally Davies, the co-Chairs of the Judging Panel, Prof. Mark Dybul (Professor of Medicine at Georgetown University), and Tsitsi Masiyiwa (Founder and Co-Chair of Higherlife Foundation) have spoken about the incredible pool of talent from which the Judges had to choose, and the fundamental improvement that these solutions could, and would make to global health. “We need to celebrate and shine the spotlight on the winners. This platform [Awards Ceremony 2021] is what they need so that a broad community of people from private and public sectors, philanthropy and others, are able to know what solutions they are working on to prepare us for the next pandemic”, said Tsitsi. 

This feeling is echoed by leaders of the Coalition of Members of The Trinity Challenge. “The first round of winners announced by the Trinity Challenge highlights the tremendous diversity of approaches for pandemic preparedness,” said Trevor Mundel, President of Global Health, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We have been impressed at some of the tractable approaches proposed by Trinity Challenge participants and look forward to supporting Challenge winners who are working on solutions to ensure we are all better prepared for future outbreaks”, shared Christopher J.L. Murray, MD, Director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. 

In less than nine months, The Trinity Challenge members have bypassed the usual obstacles to global cooperation and moved quickly toward solutions.  Vilas Dhar, President of the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation and a founding member of TTC commented that “the transformative innovation reflected in the Trinity Challenge winning solutions demonstrate what’s possible when leaders from private industry, philanthropy, and civil society come together with the very best technological tools and a shared vision for humanity.” The Trinity Challenge coalition will continue on its mission in this spirit, to bring the best of data and analytics technology to life, to engender positive differences to the health of communities everywhere in the world. 

QUOTES

Dame Sally Davies, Chair and Founder of The Trinity Challenge:

"We have been looking for solutions from anyone, anywhere around the globe that can use data and analytics in a new and different way to identify, respond to and recover from disease outbreaks, with the potential to become an epidemic or a pandemic to help those in the global south and north. The response we have received has been overwhelming. It delivers on our members’ early vision, that a smarter, more cross-sectoral approach to data and analytics is key to building an effective, affordable and scalable response to the threat of infectious diseases.”

Dame Emma Walmsley, CEO at GSK:

“COVID-19 has shown that there is a clear need to better identify, better respond, and better recover from health emergencies. At GSK, we have been really impressed with how The Trinity Challenge has mobilised to help with this mission. Congratulations to today’s winners, we fully support their work to develop solutions which better prevent seismic health shocks and protect people.”

Professor Gabriel Leung, Chair of Public Health Medicine, Division of Community Medicine and Public Health Practice, HKU-Med:

“There is really nothing more encouraging than knowing that there are so many brilliant trailblazers from around the world, who have been working tirelessly to come up with solutions to our most pressing global health problems. Indeed, it is a privilege for HKUMed to be working with The Trinity Challenge, and indeed by extension to all of these collaborators and entrants in transforming their brilliant ideas into better health for all everywhere. Together, we are The Trinity Challenge.”

Hemant Ahlawat, Senior Partner, McKinsey & Company:

“COVID-19 has been an unprecedented crisis. However, it certainly won’t be the last we will face. We have been privileged to be a founding member of The Trinity Challenge. It has brought together diverse institutions, focused on better use of data and analytics, and encouraged new ideas and approaches to ensure we are better prepared for the next crisis. We are excited to see the breadth of ideas that came up through the challenge from across the globe.”

Nick Clegg, Vice President of Global Affairs at Facebook:

“On behalf of Facebook, I was delighted to be able to support the Trinity Challenge. Social media has a vital part to play in tackling health crises, and also has great potential as a source of information about the spread of disease and about people’s attitudes and behaviours. The experience of working with health authorities and experts across the world to respond to COVID is one that we want to build on, so that we can help to inform our users and to help prevent future pandemics. Facebook looks forward to supporting the Trinity Challenge winners as they innovate to detect, respond to and mitigate against pandemics around the world.”

Vilas Dhar, President, Patrick J. McGovern Foundation:

"From the start of the pandemic, we recognized that a global crisis of this magnitude requires dramatically different models of cross-sector collaboration and data-driven solution building. The transformative innovation reflected in the Trinity Challenge winning solutions demonstrate what’s possible when leaders from private industry, philanthropy, and civil society come together with the very best technological tools and a shared vision for humanity. The Patrick J McGovern Foundation looks forward to supporting the implementation of these solutions to save lives and build more resilient health systems for the future."

To view our post-award press release, please click here