XPrize Taps Canadian Alzheimer’s Expert for Bold Innovation

At the SingularityU Canada Summit being held in Toronto this week, the founder of the two-day event Peter Diamandis shed more light on his other project, the famous XPrize.

XPrize brings together the smartest minds in the world by implementing innovative competition models that solve the world’s most expansive problems. When a problem is chosen to be addressed, an innovator is selected to head teams that will craft proposals for those challenges. XPrize’s next Grand Challenge will be tackling Alzheimer’s Disease, and the organization has tapped 28-year-old Canadian doctor Philip Edgcumbe as the bold innovator for the competition.

Edgcumbe works out of the University of British Columbia and most recently acted as the Alzheimer’s medical expert for a startup’s app specializing in gaze detection for early-onset of the memory-debilitating condition. He also received the Outstanding Young Scientist award in 2014 at the International Medical Image Computing and Computer-Assisted Intervention conference and spent 2016 at Singularity University applying exponential technologies to medical innovation.

The Alzheimer’s-focused XPrize will begin early next year and is operated in partnership with gerontology expert Ken Dychtwald. It will be funded by the Alzheimer’s Brain Trust.

Peter Diamandis and Philip Edgcumbe on stage at SU Canada Summit

Alzheimer’s affects roughly one-third of those aged 85 and older, and an announcement that XPrize will be tackling it is a big deal, as it brings new hope for non-traditional avenues fighting the hugely prevalent affliction.

“Everyone believes there will be an answer or solution to Alzheimer’s eventually, the question is how do we accelerate and bring it forward,” said Diamandis. “Our goal is to not only give hope but empower problem solvers and give them the permission to work on it that might have not otherwise been there.”

Edgcumbe is a natural choice to lead the XPrize committee as a bold innovator not only due to his continued work in the field, but his youthfulness and unique approaches to problem solving that fall in line with XPrize and forward-thinking mentalities.

“If we prevent Alzheimer’s, we’re going to unlock vast amounts of human potential and reduce or eliminate the suffering of tens of millions of victims and their families,” said Edgcumbe. “There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, which affects nearly 50 million people worldwide and is expected to triple in the coming decades due to increasing longevity and the global age wave.”

The proposal for an Alzheimer’s XPrize won over judges when Edgcumbe called for a cross-disciplinary development of less-invasive detection technologies through the use if AI and genetic engineering.

Now, a competition structure must be decided upon and a sponsor must be found to provide prize money, which will likely total eight figures.

So far, XPrize has awarded or has currently active over $150 million in prize money, with $200 million more in prizing currently in development. Earlier this year, the Kitchener-based Cloud DX won $100,000 from XPrize when they were selected as Epic Bold Innovator in the Qualcomm Tricorder competition.