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White-Nose Syndrome - Fight the Fungus, Save Our Bats

Share your ideas to help destroy the fungus P. destructans and combat white-nose syndrome, a disease killing millions of bats.

Department of the Interior - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Total Cash Prizes Offered: $100,000
Type of Challenge: Ideas
Submission Start: 10/24/2019 12:00 PM ET
Submission End: 12/31/2019 11:59 PM ET

Help the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service identify ways to permanently eradicate, weaken, or disarm the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome, a devastating disease that is killing millions of hibernating bats across the United States and Canada.

Description

Hibernating bats in North America are in trouble. An invasive fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, that causes a disease called white-nose syndrome is spreading across the continent and killing millions of bats. Bats eat insects and are integral to thriving ecosystems. With the loss of millions of bats because of this deadly fungus, many millions more forest and agriculture insect pests are left to feed on trees and crops, ultimately affecting the balance of nature and even human health.

There is no known cure for white-nose syndrome, but scientists from all over the world are working together to study the disease, how it spreads and infects bats and what we can do to control it. Much of this work has been done under the umbrella of the United States’ National Response to White-nose Syndrome, a broad, multi-agency effort led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Bat affected by white-nose syndrome

The White-nose Syndrome Prize Challenge seeks ideas that may lead to a permanent solution to this crisis of wildlife health by eliminating, weakening, or disarming the fungus that causes it.

The White-nose Syndrome Challenge specifically seeks ideas that can permanently eliminate, disarm, or weaken P. destructans in the wild. Through the challenge, we invite ideas that can lead to solutions to reduce the effects of the fungus without harming other beneficial species or the environment. We are seeking ideas that can be employed in the field in the near future and benefit many of the affected species across their ranges.

Ideas recognized through this Challenge will be the focus of future collaborations to establish an appropriate research and development plan to bring the envisioned tools to fruition. Experts in relevant fields, including members of winning teams, if appropriate, will come together to identify critical research and technology needs to develop the solution.

After that, qualified scientists, designers and engineers will have an opportunity to apply to do this work and develop prospective tools for use. Once ready, we hope the tool(s)will be used throughout the country to improve survival of bats susceptible to white-nose syndrome.

A webinar for interested solvers will be held on November 20, 2-3 p.m. ET. Please visit https://doilearn2.webex.com/doilearn2/onstage/g.php?MTID=e98464ffeb58ec84ebc03a4b573337bc0 for more information.

More information on the prize challenge and other efforts to fight white-nose syndrome can be found at www.whitenosesyndrome.org.

Prizes

Total Cash Prize Pool

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a total cash prize pot available of $100,000.

Prize Breakdown

Up to $20,000 in individual awards is possible. The Challenge award will be contingent upon the results of critical analysis and evaluation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Judging Panel appointed by them.

Honorable mentions may be given to solutions that judges and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service believe show potential but did not rank as highly the top ideas submitted. Honorable mentions may also receive part of the cash prize pot available through the Challenge.

Non-monetary Prizes

Winners, including honorable mentions, may be invited to attend or participate in future discussions to establish an appropriate research and development plan to bring the envisioned tools to fruition. If so, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will provide travel costs for at least one member of each winning team.

Rules

For rules and more information on how to enter, visit: https://www.whitenosesyndrome.org/static-page/white-nose-syndrome-challenge.

Applications must be e-mailed to WNSChallenge@fws.gov.

Judging Criteria

Judging Panel

The Judging Panel will be composed of federal and/or non-federal scientists and other technical and subject matter experts.

Judging Criteria

Submitted ideas and solutions will be scored by performance using the following criteria with approximate weights noted in parentheses:

  • Readiness: How sufficiently developed is the idea? Do intended users have to develop other technologies or methods to apply the idea? Can it use “off the shelf” parts to carry out? (20%)
  • Deployment Scale: Which geographic regions of the United States and Canada will the idea work in? Can it work in more than one region? What kinds of bat habitats can the idea work in? Will it work in the presence and absence of Pd? (15%)
  • Species Susceptibility: Will the idea work for the most highly susceptible bat species? (20%)
  • Ease of Use: How easy is the idea to apply? For example, will carrying it out require significant physical exertion, extensive time in the field, highly trained scientists or other specialists, or significant safety training and precautions? (10%)
  • Cost Efficiency: Submitted Solutions are not required to include a specific cost per bat to implement the idea, but do you have a sense of what it would cost to implement the idea? (10%)
  • Efficacy: How effective is the treatment at the point of application to eliminate or weaken Pd to help bats survive? (25%)
  • Risk to Resources: When used at the proposed scale, will the idea keep harm to native natural or cultural resources at a minimum? Solutions that the judges find help bats, but only at the expense of causing irreparable harm to natural or cultural resources near bat populations, or solutions that cause significant harm to bats themselves, will not be considered for winning this Challenge.

How To Enter

For rules and more information on how to enter, visit: https://www.whitenosesyndrome.org/static-page/white-nose-syndrome-challenge.

Point of Contact

Have feedback or questions about this challenge? Send the challenge manager an email