Home Dementia £4 million prize to develop life-changing technology for people with dementia

£4 million prize to develop life-changing technology for people with dementia

by Lisa Carr

The Alzheimer’s Society, Innovate UK and the Medical Research Council (MRC) have announced a partnership to launch a new £4.1m Longitude Prize on Dementia, to develop the next generation of assistive technologies which can change the way people with dementia live their lives.

Opening for entries this September, global innovators will be invited to develop technologies that learn about the lives and routines of people living with early stage dementia, employing assistive technology and machine learning to adapt as their condition progresses.

Delivered by challenge prize experts, Challenge Works (the new name of Nesta Challenges), the £4.1m Longitude Prize on Dementia will award £3.1 million in seed funding and grants to the most promising innovators, with a £1 million prize awarded to the winner in early 2026.

In addition, wider support has been funded to provide innovators with crucial insight and expertise, facilitating whatever they need to bring their ideas to life – like access to data, collaborations with people living with dementia and dementia organisations in the UK and around the world, advice on product design, user experience and business mentoring. 

Inspired by the original Longitude Prize of 1714, the Longitude Prize on Dementia will incentivise a new generation of assistive technologies, supporting people to remain independent in their own homes as long as possible – one of the best ways to slow the advance of the disease.

Kate Lee, Chief Executive Officer, Alzheimer’s Society said:
“As the UK’s leading dementia charity, the Alzheimer’s society is a vital source of support for everyone affected by dementia. We know that there are treatments around the corner but we want to change the way people are living with dementia now. Current technologies supporting dementia care focus on monitoring people and alerting their carers but there are real opportunities for innovation which will support people to live joyfully and independently. The Longitude Prize on Dementia will deliver technologies that become an extension of the individual’s working ‘brain’ and memory in a way that is specific to their needs – enabling them to continue living at home and doing the things they love for as long as possible.”

Indro Mukerjee, Chief Executive Officer, Innovate UK said:
“Innovate UK is strongly committed to supporting businesses to innovate solutions for many healthy ageing challenges. Dementia is one of those big challenges, and in the UK alone 210,000 people will develop dementia this year. Now is the time to act, and so we are pleased to support the ambitious partnership to launch this Longitude Prize”.  

Professor John Iredale, Interim Executive Chair, Medical Research Council said:
“With cases on course to triple by 2050, the dementias are a major research priority for the MRC. Our aim is to transform our understanding of the causes and progression of dementia so we can find better ways to diagnose, treat and prevent it. We also want to see a better life for those with dementia – the Longitude Prize on Dementia will inspire innovators from diverse disciplines towards this goal with a new generation of breakthrough assistive technologies.”

The Longitude Prize on Dementia is the second modern Longitude Prize delivered by Challenge Works, with the Longitude Prize on AMR launched in 2014 calling on innovators to develop novel diagnostic tests to tackle the rise of antimicrobial resistance, also known as superbugs. The Longitude Prize on AMR will accept final submissions from diagnostics innovators later this year. 

Since 2012, Challenge Works has run more than 80 prizes, in global health, climate change and pollution, consumer services and frontier technologies. To date, it has distributed £84 million in funding and engaged with 12,000 innovators.

Tris Dyson, Managing Director, Challenge Works said:
“For a decade, Challenge Works has established the UK as a leader in the design and delivery of challenge prizes. Challenge prizes incentivise the development of breakthrough technologies to solve some of the most intractable problems of our time. By levelling the playing field for innovators, through an open competition, with seed funding and expert capacity building support, they enable a diversity of approaches to a problem to progress through the competition, with the best solution winning the top prize only after it has proven its effectiveness. We are really excited about applying this approach to finding innovative solutions to the day-to-day problems experienced by people living with dementia.”

Full details of the Longitude Prize on Dementia will be announced in September 2022 when the prize launches and entry period opens. Innovators interested in taking part can visit dementia.longitudeprize.org to register their interest ahead of the September launch.

Related Articles