A fortnight ago neurokinex Director Harvey Sihota was invited to be a guest speaker at the UK launch of the $20m Conquer Paralysis Now Grand Challenge at Kings College London. He was joined on a panel with world renowned SCI researcher Professor James Fawcett, members of the InnoCentive team and Co-Founders of Public Health and Longevity.
Harvey has been involved in an advisory capacity (along with a core group of research advocates) since InnoCentive was commissioned by CPN (formerly Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation) to design and prepare the Challenge back in 2011. He was delighted to be able to speak to an audience of researchers, business school students and budding entrepreneurs about life with a spinal cord injury, the benefits of challenge/incentive prize models to solve complex problems such as paralysis and how social entrepreneurs could play a key role in accelerating the discovery and development of treatments.
What is the CPN Challenge?
The CPN Challenge plans to award almost $20m worth of awards and prizes over the next 10 years with a $10m Grand Prize awarded to the first team that reaches unprecedented improvement in every day functions of people living with chronic paralysis at the end of that period.
The programme is divided into 3 stages which tackle basic research (discovery), translational research and clinical trials.
image above courtesy of InnoCentive
Why do we need it?
Despite all of the exciting news that we have read about (some of which can be read about in our Nov-14 newsletter) there are still many unanswered questions about the biology of the central nervous system and as is the nature of science and innovation, there will always be a need for more. Many of the therapies that are being translated or even tested in humans today are offering groundbreaking, yet relatively modest functional benefits – so there is plenty of room for more! That is why it is important to make sure that we continue to grease the wheels of discovery, translation and clinical trials of potentially life-changing strategies in the medium and long-term. The CPN Challenge offers the Community another dimension to this thinking.
What is unique about it?
The Challenge approach is often described as the ‘crowdsourcing’ of ideas through incentives. By opening up the problem to, and incentivising a wider audience, it offers the possibility of attracting not only researchers from other fields across the globe but also individuals or groups from a variety of backgrounds, offering out-of-the-box thinking – something that we at neurokinex are big fans of.
In addition to opening the problem up to a wider audience of potential “solvers” it defines a clear context for curing paralysis, fosters collaboration in a unique competitive setting and opens the doors to philanthropists and social entrepreneurs to get involved in the latter stages (Stage 2 and 3).
All of these dynamics bring together what is an exciting and refreshing new eco-system for discovering and developing Cures for not only spinal cord injury but for the benefit of the entire paralysis community – including other related neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis, transverse myelitis and stroke.
What can I do to get involved?
If you know a neuroscientist, a biologist, an engineer, a clinician, an entrepreneur or a philanthropist, share information about the CPN Challenge with them and appeal to them to get involved by sharing this newsletter. The more minds and resources involved in this challenge the greater the possibility of a profound treatment that will redefine possibilities for the whole paralysis community.
The neurokinex team