Governor Rick Snyder and the Michigan Legislature have launched a $1 million global search for innovative solutions to the impending invasion of the Asian carp.

Both silver carp and bighead carp have progressed to within 10 miles of the three electric barriers built to prevent invasive carp from entering Lake Michigan through the Chicago Area Waterways System. Acknowledging that the fish pose a serious threat to a $7 billion fishing industry in the Great Lakes, recreational users, and the health of  Great Lakes ecosystems, the hope is that the call will spur new ideas that can be implemented across the basin.

Multiple technologies are currently being deployed, including a series of three electric dispersal barriers in the Chicago Area Waterways System.  However, current measures are not 100 per cent effective in preventing invasive carp from entering the Great Lakes. As recently as June 2017, a large silver carp was captured beyond the electric barriers, just nine miles from Lake Michigan.  The prevailing concern is that a more sustainable and innovative solution is needed.

The challenge read: “We are asking the Solver community to come up with viable new solutions that will prevent the migration of these fish into Lake Michigan. Ideally, solutions could be used in many other areas in the USA as well. The goal is to prevent invasive carp movement, directly or indirectly, without damage to the ecosystem, other species or waterway navigation (commercial and recreational). What makes this Challenge especially complex is the number of concepts that have been and are currently being researched. Solvers should make sure their ideas are original or build upon existing technologies before they put too much time into a particular solution.”

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“To receive an award, the Solvers will not have to transfer their IP rights to the Seeker. Please note that any proposal submitted will not be treated as confidential information. Accordingly, Solvers should take whatever steps they deem necessary to protect their proprietary rights in their solutions prior to submitting their written proposal for consideration in the Challenge (e.g. filing provisional or full patent applications on the solution described in the written proposal submitted prior to submission).”

Submissions to this Challenge – Stage 1 must be received by 11:59 PM (U.S. Eastern Time) on October 31, 2017.

This Challenge consists of two stages:

  • Stage 1 is a Theoretical Challenge requiring submission of a written proposal. Participants are asked to submit an idea, along with detailed descriptions, specifications, supporting data or literature, and requirements necessary to bring the idea to practice.
  • If Stage 1 produces winning concepts, Stage 2 is a planned event.  Participants will be asked to present their technology and demonstrate proof-of-concept data, if available. Solvers invited to Stage 2 will have time to do more work/research to demonstrate feasibility or provide detailed testing protocols, examples etc. They will submit a revised proposal/paper which will be presented live at the event.

This posting only launches the Stage 1 competition. The Seeker has a total cash prize purse of $200,000 for Stage 1.  The cash prize awards will be contingent upon critical analysis and evaluation by the Seeker and the judging panel appointed by the Seeker.  Up to 8 awards will be made for the best submissions that meet or exceed the Solution Requirements.  The cash prize awards for each winning solution will be $25,000. No cash prizes are guaranteed unless submissions meet or exceed the Solution Requirements.  Partial cash prizes may be considered for solutions that meet some, but not all, of the criteria. No award will be smaller than $10,000 for Stage 1.

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To receive a Stage 1 award, the Solvers will not have to transfer their IP rights to the Seeker, but will grant the Seeker a non-exclusive license to practice their solutions. Please note that any proposal submitted will not be treated as confidential information.  Accordingly, Solvers should take whatever steps they deem necessary to protect their proprietary rights in their solutions prior to submitting their written proposal for consideration in the Challenge (e.g. filing provisional or full patent applications on the solution described in the written proposal submitted prior to submission).

Stage 2 envisions a total prize cash prize purse of $500,000. Individual awards are expected to be in the $50,000 – $250,000 range. In addition to the direct monetary award for Stage 2, the Seeker intends to invite industry, non-profit organizations, and venture capital representatives to be present at the Stage 2 presentations and testing kick-off.  Participating industry and venture capital representatives will also have the ability to seek and secure potential business deals with Solvers. The event will take place in Michigan (more details will be provided later).

After the Challenge submission deadline, a Judging Panel, chosen by the Seeker, will evaluate the submissions and make a decision with regards to the winning solution(s). The Judging Panel may be composed of scientists, engineers, and other technical experts. All persons or entities that submit a proposal will be notified on the status of their submissions. Decisions by the Seeker cannot be contested.

You can learn more about the Invasive Carp Challenge by visiting this website.

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