Roche Canada crowdsources COVID-19 ideas in new quick-turn innovation challenge

Roche Canada's innovation challenge for COVID-19 health solutions looks to the public for ideas. (Roche)

Roche Canada is looking for a few good ideas to fight COVID-19, and it needs them soon.

The Swiss drugmaker recently launched a Canada-specific innovation challenge, asking for entries by April 10 in a contest that promises up to $100,000 in winnings to fund development.

The Roche Canada COVID-19 Innovation Challenge hopes to uncover any and all ideas that advance the fight against the novel coronavirus, but it does offer suggestions. How to address health system capacities, enhance real-time information-sharing, and manage remote and rural populations, for three. The contest is open only to legal residents of Canada.

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“We are hoping to get a broad range of interest from all facets of society, including science-based experts such as biologists, data scientists, and healthcare providers, as well as entrepreneurs and technology developers, students, patients, and anyone with an innovative mind and wants to make a difference,” said a Roche spokesperson in an email.  

While innovation challenges by pharma companies have proliferated over the past few years in specific diseases and technologies, the Roche Canada contest is one of the first to crowdsource for COVID-19 ideas.

Entries will be evaluated on five equality weighted criteria: clarity, design, innovativeness, impact and outcome, and feasibility and applicability. A Roche steering committee will choose and notify winners by April 15 and grant funding up to $50,000 for individual winners and $100,000 for team submissions.

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“We are establishing this initiative in the hope that it can foster much needed solutions and create opportunities for people to get involved," Michael Duong, head of personalized healthcare at Roche Canada, said in a news release. "Every Canadian is touched by this situation and it's going to take the whole community coming together to get through it.”