The Trinity Challenge was convened by Dame Sally Davies, Master of Trinity CollegeLouis Ashworth

The University of Cambridge has joined a coalition of 22 major businesses and academic institutions to launch the Trinity Challenge.

The Trinity Challenge, launched on Monday (14/09), is a coalition of members “united by the common aim of using real world evidence and data to develop insights and promote actions to ensure the world is better protected against health emergencies”. 

With an initial prize fund of £10m, applicants are encouraged to develop ‘breakthrough’ technologies and methods that will help prevent future pandemics. The prize fund will then go towards scaling and supporting “innovations across areas including economics, behavioural sciences, and epidemiology.”

The University is joined by other founding members from across the world who have rarely, if ever, worked together in the health sphere. Founding members include private sector businesses, like Facebook and Google, leading academic institutions, like Imperial College London and the LSE, and philanthropic groups, like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

Convened by Master of Trinity and former Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies, the Challenge focuses on three aspects of health policy: identification, response and recovery. To be accepted into the Challenge, applicants must develop ideas addressing at least one of those areas. 

Having submitted an application, applicants then have the option to ask for support from founding members (such as privileged access to data), bring in external support or work independently. Founding members will then consider which applications they would like to support. 

Finally the applications will be reviewed by a panel of experts from around the world being judged against a range of criteria including “alignment to Challenge focus” and “potential for impact.”

One of the main focuses of the Challenge is the use of data. Vice-Chancellor Professor Stephen Toope said on the launching of the Challenge: “Covid-19 has highlighted the power of data in helping us understand and tackle health emergencies, but it also revealed the challenges we face in getting the right data to the right people at the right time.”

As such the Challenge has catalogued a range of global and local data sources representing a “first attempt to bring together critical datasets for global public health from a data landscape that has historically been fragmented and unstructured.”


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In a video released on Monday Professor Toope continued: “we need to up our collaborative game so that we cross sectors, disciplines and borders to help us tackle and even prevent future health emergencies. The Trinity Challenge is an exciting opportunity to make that happen."

Launching the Challenge, Dame Sally said: “There will be another COVID-19, and there is an opportunity for the international community to learn lessons now and prepare for the future. The Trinity Challenge is a recognition by business, academia and philanthropy of the need for new, breakthrough ideas and approaches to beat the next pandemic.”