Getting started is often the most difficult part—and that’s especially true in rare diseases and diagnoses. Patients and families often spend many years searching for their diagnosis starting point.
For Horizon Therapeutics’ first innovation challenge, it took that struggle to heart and asked for technology-based rare disease solutions that result in faster or more accurate diagnoses.
The diagnosis-connected challenge is Horizon’s first, working with Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Solve, its global solution-sourcing platform, but not last. Every year going forward, Horizon will come up with a new challenge question—sourcing rare disease solutions around things like transportation, electronic health records and caregiver support for example, Holly Copeland, senior director of corporate social responsibility at Horizon, said.
“We all kind of exist within our own echo chambers and networks, but we’re humble enough to recognize that all of the best solutions or innovative ideas don’t exist only within the space we inhabit,” she said. “We loved the idea of partnering with MIT to reveal ideas from all over the world that we hadn’t thought of before to help foster and develop them.”
Now narrowed down from 50 entries to five finalists, the winner of the Horizon Prize will be chosen by a panel of 10 judges, which includes a global group of investors, parents of children with rare diseases and patient advocacy groups as well as one Horizon judge.
The hopefuls include a data-driven “hackathon” provider, a patient data hub manager, an African healthcare decision optimizer, a rare disease therapy manager for underrepresented communities and a genetic algorithm provider.
The winner or winners—the contest allows up to two—will be revealed Monday, with a $150,000 prize purse and continuing mentorship, resources and expert advice as needed to bring the solutions to market.
Still even the “losing” finalists will win. Horizon and MIT plan to offer continued support, Copeland said.
“The mission of Horizon is to identify, develop and create new treatments for rare disease … Our intention here is to marry the mission of the company with the work we’re doing to create healthy ecosystems that also help to create solutions for rare disease patients,” she said.
by Beth Snyder Bulik
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