Call for Proposals for Water Toxicity Sensor Challenge

Deadline: 26-Jul-21
The InnoCentive is pleased to announce a call for proposals for the Water Toxicity Sensor Challenge to design solutions for biologically based sensors for use in water systems that can detect the activation of one or more human toxicity pathways.

Toxicity pathways are the perturbations to normal biological processes that occur due to exposure to a stressor, such as a chemical, that has the potential to lead to adverse health effects.

Although the sensor might not identify a specific contaminant/toxin, it should be able to measure or quantitate the level of activation of one or more toxicity pathways when the sensor is exposed to water that contains relevant amounts of contaminants/toxins targeting the pathway(s).

In the interest of advancing technology that can be used to evaluate water quality, the Seeker is looking for a design of a sensor that can detect the presence of one or more contaminants in water by measuring their impact on one or more toxicity pathways.

The sensor would avoid the need for performing multiple laboratory measurements for the detection of target compounds. The sensor should be able to quantify the degree of activation of the toxicity pathway. The sensor may be a new technology or an improvement to existing technology.

This Challenge consists of two stages:

  • Stage 1 is a Theoretical Challenge. Participants will be asked to submit an idea, along with detailed descriptions, specifications, supporting data or literature, and requirements necessary to bring the idea closer to becoming a product.
  • If Stage 1 produces winning concepts, Stage 2 is planned as a subsequent Reduction to Practice Challenge with a larger prize purse. Participants will be asked to present their technology and submit a working prototype that puts their idea into practice.

Award Information

  • The Seeker intends to select up to three finalists to receive awards of $15,000 each from a total award pool of $45,000.
  • The Challenge award will be contingent upon results of critical analysis and evaluation by the Seeker.

Eligibility Criteria

  • If awarded, Winning Solvers must certify they do not have identical or essentially equivalent work currently funded by a United States Federal agency.
  • Federal employees acting within the scope of their employment are not eligible to participate. A Federal employee acting outside the sco pe of his or her employment should consult his or her ethics official before participating in the Challenge.

For more information, visit

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