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Innovation Challenge

Challenge is Complete
Tracking Coronavirus



Challenge Status: Challenge is Complete
Application Status: Closed

Key Dates

Challenge Begins: 05/08/2020
Challenge Closes: 06/19/2020
Solutions Due By: 06/17/2020
Winners Announced: 08/07/2020

The Fight Against Coronavirus

From May 8th to June 19th, 2020, over 250 innovators from 21 different countries worked together to develop syndromic surveillance systems that help us better understand the current pandemic and prevent future outbreaks. The New York Academy of Sciences invited solvers from around the world to participate in the challenge for a chance to win a $5,000 USD grand prize. The winning solution, SYNSYS: Tracking COVID-19 created by Esha Datanwala, is a syndromic surveillance system that uses online data to predict outbreaks. Learn more about the winning solution and the solver who designed it.

In the last two decades three new Corinaviruses have jumped from animals to humans – called the spillover effect– causing serious illness and fatalities. Scientists and researchers in various sectors are racing to develop treatments and a vaccine while also investigating fundamental questions about the virus such as the seasonality, full range of symptoms, true fatality rate, viral latency, dose response curve of the viral load, long-term immunity, mutation rate etc.

The lack of Syndromic Surveillance for Coronavirus has grossly exposed the global and local preparedness for pandemics making us vulnerable as well as putting extreme stress on our government, healthcare facilities, medical supply demands and economies.

The Challenge

Participants were asked to think critically about the importance of Coronavirus basic research and design a surveillance network to better understand the current pandemic and/or prevent future Coronavirus outbreaks. Read the full challenge statement including the question and background here.

How It Works

After signing up to participate as individuals or teams, solvers worked together on Launchpad, a virtual interactive platform that safely facilitates global collaboration and program solving. Using Launchpad, solvers from around the world participated in teams or individually, to design a solution by answering the question proposed. Ten finalists teams were invited to a Virtual Pitch Event where they presented their model in front of a panel of judges. Watch the Virtual Pitch recording here.

Winners & Finalists

Grand Prize Winner – $5,000 USD

SYNSYS: Tracking COVID-19

SYNSYS is a syndromic surveillance system designed for the public & private healthcare sectors. This system uses public domain mined data from Google Trends, various social media sites, census data, and satellite data to predict outbreaks, both before they happen and while they’re happening.

Team Member: Esha Datanwala


Ten finalists teams were invited to present their solution to a panel of judges at the Virtual Pitch Event on July 17th, 2020. You can watch the virtual pitch recording here.

Special Recognition

The judges gave special recognition to this team for its effort to address the fundamental issues regarding syndromic tracking systems.

Audience Favorite

Two teams were voted as the Audience Favorite during the Virtual Pitch Event and received bonus point(s) in the final judging.

Learn more about other finalists’ solutions: