Newly launched Accelerator to crowdsource ideas and support innovations to address global threats related to climate change, biosecurity, and pandemic preparedness
CHICAGO, May 25, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The University of Chicago’s Market Shaping Accelerator (MSA) today announced its $2 million Innovation Challenge. Launched earlier this month, the MSA aims to accelerate efforts to address major global challenges by leveraging the power of incentives, competition, and private sector innovation. In its first year, the MSA and Innovation Challenge are focused on incentivizing groundbreaking solutions for climate change, biosecurity, and pandemic preparedness.
The private sector will under-invest in the research and development (R&D) required to reduce carbon emissions, remove carbon from the atmosphere or deliver new life-saving vaccines. The aim of the MSA Innovation Challenge is to surface promising climate change and biosecurity problems that would benefit from stronger “pull incentives” for the private sector to invest in innovation.
The Innovation Challenge invites proposals from individuals and organizations regardless of their background or expertise that identify existing market failures and propose demand-driven market shaping solutions to create a guaranteed financial incentive to spur innovations that tackle biosecurity, pandemic preparedness, and climate change. The MSA will then work with policymakers, domain experts and funders to develop market shaping instruments tailored to selected problems.
The MSA Innovation Challenge 2023 also draws on the expertise of partners including CEPI, a global partnership working to accelerate the development of vaccines against epidemic and pandemic threats, as well as other UChicago-based organizations working on climate change and innovation including EPIC, DIL, Urban Labs/Energy & Environment Lab, and RISC. For more information on the challenge guidelines, including dates and submission details, click here.
“Climate change is reshaping our world—creating new and very serious global health challenges, including a substantial increase in pandemic risk. We must not view the threats of pandemics and a warming planet as separate issues. On the contrary, they are intimately connected,” explains Dr Nicole Lurie, Executive Director of Preparedness and Response at CEPI. “Thanks to the advances forged in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the world now has the tools and concepts that would enable us to interrupt such outbreaks in the future before they spiral out of control. But scientific innovation alone will not suffice. Enabling and establishing innovative ways to finance equitable access to such innovations—especially pandemic vaccines—will be crucial to future pandemic responses. Therefore, developing effective mechanisms to shape the market for such countermeasures will be key to this endeavor.”
The challenge will have multiple phases. Phase I is an open call for ideas, offering $4,000 each to top submissions. Outstanding ideas from Phase I will advance to Phase II, where teams will enter the Accelerator to design pull mechanisms and contracts. Participating teams will have access to leading market shaping experts and technical support from domain specialists, competing for a share of up to $2 million in prize money across multiple phases. Top ideas will also receive the MSA’s support in fundraising for the multi-million or billion-dollar investments required to realize their market shaping solutions.
More information on the Market Shaping Accelerator:
Supported by Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative of Eric and Wendy Schmidt, Citadel founder and CEO Ken Griffin, and the Digital Harbor Foundation, the MSA brings together renowned experts in market shaping, including Nobel laureate economist Michael Kremer and Rachel Glennerster from the University of Chicago and Christopher Snyder from Dartmouth College. This group of experts has contributed significantly to research and policy successes of market shaping mechanisms, including developing advance market commitments for carbon removal (Frontier) and pneumococcal vaccines, which saved an estimated 700,000 lives in low-income countries.
Market shaping uses economic tools to solve market failures where commercial incentives for innovation trail behind societal needs. One example is advance market commitments (AMCs), which are “pull mechanisms” that tie payments to outputs. AMCs establish legally binding contracts to subsidize the purchase of a large quantity of a specific innovation if it is invented. Other examples include prizes, which are competitions that reward solutions for a specific problem, and milestone contracts, which are payments linked to achieving interim steps toward an innovation.
The MSA will collaborate closely with governments, multilateral institutions, and philanthropists to design the details of contracts and policies to accelerate and scale innovation. Already, the MSA is collaborating with global organizations and policymakers to advance innovation in carbon removal, climate-resilient crops, and universal coronavirus vaccines.
The MSA benefits from a diverse group of expert advisors, including Susan Athey of Stanford University, Catherine Bremner of Impax Asset Management, Michael Greenstone and Steven Levitt of the University of Chicago, Matthew Kotchen of Yale University, Nan Ransohoff of Frontier, Tom Kalil of Schmidt Futures, Jean Tirole of the Toulouse School of Economics and 2013 Nobel Prize recipient, Heidi Williams of Dartmouth College, and Catherine Wolfram of UC Berkeley.
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SOURCE University of Chicago