Patent office launches Cancer Moonshot challenge

The contest is part of the White House's larger initiative to find new, innovative ways to treat cancer.
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. (Whitney Blair Wyckoff/FedScoop)

The Patent and Trademark Office launched a contest Monday that encourages the public to glean new insights about cancer research from the agency’s intellectual property data.

As part of the USPTO Cancer Moonshot Challenge, participants will be tasked with finding ways to link data from the agency’s new Developer Hub portal to other data sets related to research grants and the economy. Organizers hope participants will illuminate trends that will help the federal government make better funding and policy decisions to develop more effective cancer treatments.

Data on patents often offers a window into important early-stage research and development, said agency Chief of Staff Vikrum Aiyer and Senior Adviser Thomas Beach in a blog post.

[Read more: New innovation center aims to unleash invention, trademark data]


“By bringing together cancer experts, policymakers, and data scientists, we can explore and identify how intellectual property data can be better leveraged and combined with other data sets to support cancer research and the development of new commercialized therapies,” they wrote.

The contest is part of a sweeping White House initiative to find new, innovative ways to treat cancer. The USPTO blog post notes the agency “is playing an important role” in the program: Last month, it launched its Patent 4 Patients program to halve the time it takes to evaluate patent applications for cancer therapies.

For the new contest, the patent office will offer an information session on Thursday for those interested in participating.

The first place winner of the USPTO contest will receive $5,000, and second and prize comes with a $3,000 and $2,000, respectively. After the challenge, USPTO plans to work with other members of the interagency Moonshot Task Force to determine how best to use the findings.

The deadline for the contest is Sept. 12, and the agency will announce the winners Sept. 26.


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