Karim R. Lakhani, Kevin J. Boudreau, Po-Ru Loh, Lars Backstrom, Carliss Y. Baldwin, Eric Lonstein, Mike Lydon, Alan MacCormack, Ramy A. Arnaout, and Eva C. Guinan. 2013. “Prize-based Contests Can Provide Solutions to Computational Biology Problems.” Nature Biotechnology, 31, 2, Pp. 108-111. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In summary, we show that a prize-based contest on a commercial platform can effectively recruit skilled individuals to apply their knowledge to a big-data biomedical problem. Deconstruction and transformation of problems for a heterogeneous solver community coupled with adequate data to produce and validate results can support solution diversity and minimize the risk of sub-optimal solutions that may arise from limited searches. In addition to the benefits of generating new knowledge, this strategy may be particularly useful in situations where the computational or algorithmic problem, or potentially any science problem, represents a barrier to rapid progress but where finding the solution is not itself the major thrust of the investigator’s scientific effort. The America Competes Act passed by the US Congress provides funding agencies with the authority to administer their own prize-based contests and paves the way for establishing how grant recipients might access commercial prize platforms to accelerate their own research.


Prize-based Contests Can Provide Solutions to Computational Biology Problems


A Field Experiment on Search Costs and the Formation of Scientific Collaborations