Roughly 85% of biomedical research funding is wasted due to inefficiencies, highlighting the opportunity to decrease waste and redundancies while increasing the impact of research and development investments. For the 10% of people affected by rare disease – a population with notably inefficient and expensive diagnostic journeys – increased sustainability could shorten diagnostic timelines, decrease carbon emissions, and allow research funding to go further – resulting in more treatments for patients. As a result, we need solutions that lead to better rare disease R&D outcomes while also decreasing environmental costs.
US and European regulators are increasing emissions reporting requirements for companies, including Scope 3 emissions, which create new market opportunities for solutions. These solutions could improve physical access to specialists and research trial centers or disrupt the prevalence of single-use plastics by introducing supply chain interventions like circularity or alternative packaging. Data-sharing, proper incentives, and patient involvement in research could also reduce redundancies and their associated environmental costs.
The 2023 Horizon Prize, powered by MIT Solve, seeks technology-based solutions that decrease carbon footprints in the rare disease healthcare space, while centering patient priorities. To that end, the Prize seeks a wide variety of solutions that:
Improve the rare disease patient diagnostic journey – reducing the time, cost, resources, and duplicative travel and testing for patients and caregivers
Enhance efficiencies in clinical trials and research, including data collection and sharing
Reduce single-use products, unnecessary plastics, and medical/hazardous waste throughout research and manufacturing
Create and promote alternative packaging that may be reusable, recyclable, or biodegradable without compromising sterility or safety
Optimize transportation of supplies and treatments by addressing shipping inefficiencies, cold storage, and last-mile delivery
$150,000 in prize funding is available for one winning solution team for the 2023 Horizon Prize.