Waltham, Mass. – November 10, 2011 – InnoCentive, Inc., the pioneer in open innovation and crowdsourcing, and BeyondPolio, an initiative of the Jonas Salk Legacy Foundation and the investment firm Spencer Trask, today announced the first in a series of Challenges designed to help support the global eradication of polio. Though rare in the Western world today, wild polioviruses are still circulating in a few remaining countries in Asia and Africa, where more than 1,000 new cases of paralytic polio are diagnosed each year.
BeyondPolio is focused on both reducing the cost and facilitating the use of the inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV), developed by Jonas Salk and his colleagues, to help in the final stages of the global polio eradication effort.
“The oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV) used in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative has led to the near extinction of wild polioviruses. However, OPV contains live, weakened viruses that can regain the ability to cause polio,” said Dr. Peter Salk, President of the Jonas Salk Legacy Foundation. “Approximately one quarter of all polio cases in the world today are associated with the use of OPV.”
“Wealthy countries can afford to use IPV, which contains killed viruses that cannot cause polio,” he continued. “However, cost is a barrier to its use in low and middle income countries. We want to ensure that financial considerations will not be a barrier to IPV’s use during the final stages of the effort to rid the world of polio.”
The initial Challenge, Increasing the affordability of inactivated poliovirus vaccine in low- and middle-income countries, seeks novel ideas to significantly reduce the cost of using IPV in countries where it is currently unaffordable.
The Challenge carries a total award payout of $25,000. The solution to this Challenge will form the basis for a series of larger Challenges, aimed at helping to eradicate polio completely and maintain success once eradication is achieved.
Successful completion of the polio eradication program will provide significant benefits. In addition to preventing the human toll of death and disability from polio, it has been estimated that eradication will provide a cumulative net financial benefit of approximately $40-50 billion by the year 2035. Moreover, the eradication of a second major human disease—following the eradication of smallpox in 1979—should provide a stimulus to mobilizing resources to address other significant global health problems.
“In making polio the number one priority of his Foundation, Bill Gates asked the public to contribute ideas. This Challenge is our response,” said Kevin Kimberlin, Chairman of Spencer Trask & Co. “Jonas Salk was my friend. His breakthrough in creating a vaccine against polio in 1955 was part of ‘the largest peacetime mobilization of volunteers in U.S. history.’ To help finish the job of eradicating this disease, BeyondPolio is using InnoCentive’s proven Challenge platform to tap the world’s compassion and intelligence. It’s a pioneering approach to solving big problems and anyone can be a Solver!”
“The mission to eradicate polio, which began 60 years ago with the development of the first polio vaccine by Jonas Salk, is nearly complete,” said Dwayne Spradlin, President and CEO of InnoCentive. “We are pleased to provide the platform and capability to harness the experience and creativity of a global community of problem Solvers to bring further innovative solutions to the mix.”
The announcement coincides with the screening at the Napa Valley Film Festival of “The Shot Felt Round the World,” a documentary that tells the story of Jonas Salk and the vaccine that changed the course of medical history. The film will be screened three times over the course of three days: November 11, 12 and 13.
BeyondPolio is a collaborative program and designated fund of the Jonas Salk Legacy Foundation, undertaken in conjunction with Spencer Trask & Co. BeyondPolio aims to assist the global effort to eradicate polio and maintain success once eradication is achieved. BeyondPolio is using prize-based Innovation Challenges to attract new creative approaches to this mission. Further discussion and background is available on the BeyondPolio website (www.beyondpolio.org).
About the Jonas Salk Legacy Foundation
The Jonas Salk Legacy Foundation is dedicated to preserving and extending the contributions of one of society’s great scientists and humanitarians. It does so by helping to organize and make available the collection of Jonas Salk’s papers and historical artifacts, participating in and assisting with educational programs and projects, and exploring continued application of his scientific and philosophical vision towards solution of ongoing problems confronting humanity. (www.jonassalklegacyfoundation.org)
About Spencer Trask & Co.
Spencer Trask & Co. brings together angels, business leaders, entrepreneurs, and major corporations into a Value Creation Network where big ideas are transformed into great companies. Spencer Trask is a leading network of early-stage investors and business leaders that has provided financial and intellectual capital for some of the most influential ventures in technology and healthcare including Myriad Genetics, Ciena, Osiris Therapeutics, Health Dialog and others. (www.spencertrask.com)
InnoCentive is the open innovation and crowdsourcing pioneer that enables organizations to solve their key problems by connecting them to diverse sources of innovation including employees, customers, partners, and the world’s largest problem solving marketplace. InnoCentive’s proven Challenge Driven Innovation methodology, community of millions of problem Solvers, and cloud-based technology platform combine to fundamentally transform the economics of innovation and R&D through rapid solution delivery and the development of sustainable open innovation programs. Leading commercial, government, and nonprofit organizations such as Eli Lilly, Life Technologies, NASA, nature.com, Popular Science, Procter & Gamble, Roche, Rockefeller Foundation, and The Economist partner with InnoCentive to solve problems and innovate faster and more cost effectively than ever before.