AI-powered Malaria elimination solution wins IBM Watson AI XPRIZE Competition


Zzapp Malaria, based in Tel Aviv, Israel, won the IBM Watson AI XPRIZE Challenge with a grand prize of $3 million. The team’s AI technology is geared towards tackling the main challenges faced by malaria elimination campaigns by creating custom models, built with tools like IBM Watson Studio for Cloud Pak for Data, to predict the number of small water bodies caused by weather, enabling it to optimise the timing for launching larvicide operations.

Launched in 2016, the five-year global competition looked to accelerate adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies that are scalable to solve societal grand challenges. In total, over 150 teams throughout the world joined the competition. The three finalists were selected out of a pool of ten semi-finalists, following presentations of their solutions to a panel of judges during an event held at TED headquarters in New York City last year.

Aifred Health was awarded the second-place prize of $1 million, followed by Marinus Analytics which won the $500k third-place prize. Marinus Analytics’s application, Traffic Jam, is a suite of analytics tools that saves hours and sometimes days of investigative time to find human traffickers and recover victims. Aifred Health uses AI to learn from thousands of patients to tailor treatment, reducing the time it takes for a patient to reach remission.

To determine the winner, XPRIZE AI convened a global jury of representatives from around the world. The jury evaluated each team based on their performance in the four dimensions: achieved technical impact, evidenced real-world impact, scalability of real-world impact, and ethics and safety.

Zzapp Malaria is already operational in Zanzibar, Finote Selam, and Maputo. You can read more about how the technology works here and here.

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