The Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge rewards innovative science and technology solutions that tackle specific wildlife trafficking issues. The Challenge comprises three stages of application: Concept Note, Prize Application, and Grand Prize Application. All applicants were required to submit a short Concept Note before June 30, 2015. In mid-September, the Challenge invited Finalists to submit Prize Applications. In early 2016, the Challenge selected Prize Winners to receive Prize Packages of $10,000 in addition to promotional and networking opportunities and technical assistance to scale or accelerate their solutions. Prize Winners are also eligible to compete for one of up to four Grand Prizes worth as much as $500,000. The Challenge will use Grand Prizes to target and invest in the most promising solutions.
What is the purpose of the Challenge?
USAID, in partnership with the National Geographic Society, the Smithsonian Institution, and TRAFFIC, launched the Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge to reward innovative science and technology solutions that help combat wildlife trafficking. A number of factors have spurred a sharp increase in the illegal wildlife trade in recent years, and there is growing consensus that traditional models of conservation are no longer sufficient to protect biodiversity and preserve ecosystems. The Challenge focuses on four issues in the fight against wildlife trafficking: detecting transit routes, strengthening forensic evidence and data sharing, reducing consumer demand, and tackling corruption. Following the selection of Winners, the Challenge Team intends to create a community among innovators, users, and the public that will collaborate on further innovation and technology scaling. By harnessing the power of science and technology, the Challenge hopes to overcome key barriers in the fight against wildlife trafficking.
What is wildlife?
For the purposes of the Challenge, wildlife refers to aquatic and terrestrial fauna which covers mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates. However, it is important to note that plant species are also targets of wildlife criminals, even if they are not a focus of this Challenge.
What is wildlife crime? What is wildlife trafficking?
As defined by the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime, wildlife crime refers to acts committed contrary to national laws and regulations intended to protect natural resources and to administer their management and use. Some of these crimes occur solely in the country of origin, while others are also crimes in destination countries, i.e. where live specimens or their parts and derivatives are consumed. Wildlife trafficking refers to the poaching or other taking of protected or managed species and the illegal trade in wildlife and their related parts and products.
What issues relating to wildlife trafficking were considered as part of this Challenge?
The Challenge will reward innovative science and technology solutions relating to four issues: detecting transit routes, strengthening forensic evidence and data sharing, reducing consumer demand, and tackling corruption. Please visit the Issue Pages to learn more about these as they relate to the illegal trade in wildlife.
Does the Challenge have a particular geographic focus?
The Challenge encouraged applicants from anywhere in the world to submit Concept Notes, with the exception of countries restricted by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC (see below).
To assess the potential impact of a solution, the Challenge Team will evaluate the applicability of the solution to varying contexts and geographies. As such, applicants were advised to consider the contexts to which their solution seemed most applicable, including geography. Please visit the Issue Pages to learn more about hotspots where wildlife trafficking is most prevalent.
Can applicants provide feedback about the Challenge?
Anyone is welcome to provide feedback at any time during the competition through the Contact Us button on the Challenge website.
How can I support the Challenge if I did not apply, or if my solution was not selected to advance in the competition?
Beginning in early 2016, the Challenge will help accelerate the development of winning solutions by offering targeted support and technical assistance. The Challenge is looking for individuals or groups who will work with Prize Winners to accelerate product development and help bring solutions to new markets and new users. Depending on the solution, the type of technical assistance required may include business planning, evaluation of social impact, communications and messaging, pitch training and links to finance, market entry advice, user experience testing, organizational development, and rapid prototyping and design support. If you are interested in providing support and technical assistance to Prize Winners, please contact the Challenge Team via firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also support the Challenge by connecting with us through our newsletter and social media. Check us out on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn!
What is the application process?
The Challenge has three application stages. First, 300 applicants first submitted a short Concept Note. Forty-four Finalists were then invited to submit a more detailed Prize Application, from which 16 Prize Winners were chosen to receive a Prize Package and are now eligible to apply for a Grand Prize (see the section below: About the Prize and Grand Prize Packages). Please visit the Apply Page for more information.
What is a Concept Note?
A Concept Note is a concise summary of an applicant’s solution. Concept Notes include: (1) a comprehensive description of the solution; (2) statement(s) of how the solution addresses the Challenge problem; and (3) a description of how the solution might scale to reach a significant number of users. Applicants were given a window of time between April 22 and June 30 in which to submit Concept Notes. The reviewers and judges have completed the process of evaluating Concept Notes and a group of Finalists has been selected to advance in the competition. Please visit the Apply Page for more information.
What is a Prize Application?
Concept Note Finalists were invited to submit Prize Applications, where they elaborated on the information provided in their Concept Notes and responded to additional questions that enabled a detailed evaluation of the solution. Please visit the Apply Page for more information.
Whom do I contact with questions about my application?
Please send any questions about the preparation or submission of applications in an email via the Contact Us portal on the Challenge website. The Challenge Team will attempt to answer questions in a timely fashion.
What were the evaluation criteria?
Applications were evaluated for the solution's potential for impact and potential to scale. Applicants were instructed to reflect on the following questions when considering their solution's competitiveness.
Potential impact of the solution on the wildlife trafficking issues:
- How well does the solution address the issue(s)? How significant is the potential impact of the solution?
- How likely is the solution to bring about the intended outcome or how likely is it that the solution's intended pathway for change will be achieved? How significant is the assertion; is it supported by evidence?
- To how many contexts (e.g. countries, trafficked species, types of trafficking) could this solution apply?
- How is the solution innovative? How will it interact with or affect other solutions currently being deployed to solve similar problems?
Potential for the solution to reach scale:
- Has the market (i.e. customers or users) for this solution been identified and, if so, how realistic is the business model/plan?
- Has consideration been given to the price of the solution and, if so, how cost effective is the solution given the intended customer/user? Is the estimated price realistic given the cost of required inputs?
- Is the solution easily adoptable in the target context's existing systems/infrastructure and processes? If not, how significant are the departures or changes required?
- Does the solution fit with current practices, behaviors, and culture of target users and/or population? If not, how significant are the departures or changes required?
- Is the technology appropriate for the context(s) in which it will be used? Do users require additional skills and knowledge to use and maintain the solution? If so, how significant are the training requirements, costs, and dependencies?
- Is the solution appropriate for a variety of organizations and users?
- What resources (e.g. capacity, funds, time) are required to move the solution to the next stage of innovation and ultimately to scale?
Who selected Prize Winners?
Applications were evaluated by a group of technical experts. Following a detailed technical review, an expert judging panel considered all evaluations and recommended a group of Prize Winners. Learn more about our Judges here.
What was the People’s Choice Award competition?
The People’s Choice Award competition was an opportunity for the public to support the Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge by voting for the Finalist solutions they considered the most innovative and impactful, garnering a total of 8,892 votes between October 26 and November 16. The People’s Choice Award competition was entirely separate from the Prize Application process. For more information, click here.
What did the People's Choice Awardee receive?
People’s Choice Awardee(s) are showcased along with their solution on a blog-style page on the Challenge’s web site.
Who was eligible to apply?
The Challenge was open to innovators anywhere in the world with solutions that address at least one of the stated issues. However, as the Challenge is funded by the U.S. Government, certain entities did not qualify to be Challenge applicants. Ineligible entities included U.S. and non-U.S. governments, as well as intergovernmental and treaty organizations. Colleges, universities, and research facilities that are funded by, and/or affiliated with, a government are not considered a government. In addition, Prizes will not be awarded to an organization from, or with a principal place of business in, a country subject to trade and economic sanctions administered by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury or to any individual or entity subject to targeted trade and economic sanctions administered by OFAC. The current list of OFAC restricted countries includes Iran, Syria, Cuba, North Korea, and Sudan. However, as the list of countries subject to OFAC restrictions may change, see the most up to date information here. Please visit Apply for more information on rules and eligibility.
What intellectual property rights will I retain if my solution wins?
The Challenge Team understands that applicants may want to pursue further development and use of intellectual property that is developed as a result of a Challenge award. While USAID generally retains a non-exclusive, non-transferable, irrevocable license for Federal purposes and the ability to sublicense others to do the same, during negotiations at later stages of the Challenge, USAID is willing to negotiate more limited rights for USAID. Regardless, applicants retain ownership rights to their intellectual property.
What is the Prize?
Prize Winners were awarded a Prize Package, consisting of a $10,000 cash prize, recognition, technical and networking support, and the opportunity to compete for a Grand Prize. The award package includes travel costs to an in-person networking event, which will provide an opportunity for Prize Winners to meet one another and network with potential adopters and scalers. Please visit the Apply Page for more information on Prizes.
What is the Grand Prize?
The Challenge will select a small group from the pool of Prize Winners to receive a Grand Prize. The Grand Prize will consist of a cash prize ranging in value from $100,000 to $500,000 as well as recognition. Please visit the Apply Page for more information on the Grand Prize.
What kind of opportunities will be available to Winners in addition to cash prizes?
Prize Winners will have access to scaling support, which includes assistance with business plan development, marketing plans, product testing, pilot deployment, partnership development, and access to innovators. After the networking event, Winners will have access to virtual collaboration spaces, group training, and other resources. Please visit the Apply Page for more information on the Prize and Grand Prize.
What about applicants that do not want any recognition and/or want their solutions to remain confidential?