Featured Event - Longitude Prize opens today

18 November 2014
  Portrait of Alexander Fleming made from tablet capsules commissioned to mark the Prize opening

Longitude Prize publishes 'attitudes to antibiotics' survey as the challenge opens for entries.

Asked to rank antibiotic resistance against the threats on the UK risk register, the public rated antibiotics no longer working as second only to a terrorist attack.

The findings are published today – European Antibiotics Awareness Day (18 November) – to mark the opening of Longitude Prize to competitors around the world.

The survey of more than 2000 members of the UK public showed that 78% of respondents are concerned about antibiotics resistance and half (48%) are looking to science for a solution.  It also showed that nearly one in five see antibiotics no longer working as the greatest health threat to the UK, second only to cancer.

At the end of June, the British public voted for antibiotics to be the focus of the £10 million Longitude Prize. The race is now on to develop a transformative point-of-care test that will identify when antibiotics are needed and, if they are, which ones to use.  A solution that meets the prize criteria will not only help conserve antibiotics for future generations but also revolutionise the delivery of global healthcare. The Prize is backed by Prime Minister David Cameron and will be awarded by an eminent committee chaired by Lord Martin Rees and including Dame Sally Davies, Baron Peter Piot and Professor Alice Roberts.

Although respondents to the survey expressed concern about the preservation of antibiotics, almost a quarter admitted to not finishing a course of antibiotics, rising to 33% amongst the under 35 year olds.  Not finishing a course contributes to antibiotic resistance and highlights the role we all can play in tackling it. 

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“I am proud of the UK’s world-class life sciences and biotech sector, which through the course of this Parliament has secured over £3bn investment and created over 8000 jobs for Britain. It is a crucial part of our long term economic plan.

I am looking to this sector to lead an urgent response to the threat of anti-microbial resistance, which if left unaddressed could cost millions of lives across the world.

I’m delighted that the British public have decided that the Longitude Prize should focus on tackling antibiotic resistance, and I look forward to hearing more about how we can work to solve this challenge.”

Geoff Mulgan, chief executive of Nesta and Longitude Prize committee member, said:

“The public have quickly gained a very sophisticated understanding of antibiotic resistance as a prime example of how the very things which deliver progress also bring new problems in their wake.   Threats from viruses like Ebola remind us just how vulnerable our health systems can become.   Our hope is that the combination of the prize and greater awareness of the problem will fuel a dramatic acceleration in the search for solutions, many of which will be surprising and from unexpected sources.”


About the Prize

Entries to Longitude Prize need to show when antibiotics are needed and, if they are, which ones to use. The test must:

  • Be accurate to inform treatment decisions
  • Be affordable to everyone who needs it
  • Provide a result within thirty minutes
  • Be easy to use in any location, anywhere in the world

With the opening of Longitude Prize to competitors today the full and final criteria has been published. To find out what competitors have to do to win visit www.longitudeprize.org.

Competitors have up to five years to find a solution to the Longitude Prize, with regular submission deadlines.  After these deadlines entries will be reviewed and potential winning solutions will be put forward to the Longitude Committee based on the recommendations from the Longitude Prize Advisory Panel – a newly formed panel of antimicrobial resistance and diagnostic experts. The winner of the Longitude Prize could be selected at any stage throughout the five year period.

Simultaneously, the Prize will be running an award for early-stage, promising developments called the Longitude Discovery Award. This award will provide support to competitors who need it to develop their ideas.

To mark the opening of Longitude Prize a portrait of Alexander Fleming - best known for his discovery of penicillin – has been commissioned. The artwork has been created by celebrity portrait artist Nathan Wyburn using 25,800 capsules, each representing one antibiotic item dispensed – approximately the amount dispensed every five hours in the UK*.

The Longitude Prize has been developed by Nesta. It was launched by the Prime Minister at G8 last year, and through the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is being supported by Innovate UK (the new name for the Technology Strategy Board) as funding partner.


Notes

For further information on the Longitude Prize contact, Christine Crowther at the Nesta press office on 020 7438 2611 or christine [dot] crowther [at] nesta [dot] org [dot] uk

*In the UK over 50 million antibacterial items were dispensed in the community in 2013. This figure was made by adding community pharmacy dispensed items from BNF section 5.01 for each of the individual countries making up the UK for 2013. The image is available on request.

Populus interviewed a random sample of 2048 UK adults aged 18+ from its online panel between 24 and 26 October 2014. Surveys were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. Populus is a founder member of the British Polling Council. Further information at www.populus.co.uk.