£4m Longitude Prize on Dementia bags 175 entries

Innovations from around the world, including smart glasses and gaming software, aim to help dementia sufferers regain independence.

The Longitude Prize on Dementia has received 175 entries from innovators across the globe. Launched in September 2022, and rewarding AI and machine-learning based technologies that provide personalized solutions to help people with dementia to live longer, higher quality lives at home, the £4.34 million prize is funded by Alzheimer’s Society, Innovate UK and delivered by global innovation prize experts Challenge Works.

The prize received entries from innovators in every corner of the globe; of the applications entered, greatest representation came from innovators in the UK, with 89 entries received, followed by 27 from innovators based in the US and 8 in Canada. 

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While there is still no cure for dementia, people suffering from it can live well for years. As hospitalizations can increase the rate of decline, the hope is that assistive technology can help people stay safe and independent in their home for longer, something which can also help to reduce the burden on healthcare infrastructure. The winning solution will use the latest advances in technology, AI and machine learning in combination with user data and testing to provide personalized support for people living with dementia. 

Nearly two-thirds of entries (64%) came from innovators in Europe with 112 entries – including the UK – with entries from Spain, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Greece, Switzerland, Ireland, Denmark and Isle of Man. 

In Africa, 11 entries were received from teams from South Africa, Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. In Asia, 9 entries were received from teams in India, Israel, Singapore, Hong Kong, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. In South America, teams entered from Colombia and Brazil. 4 teams from Australia have submitted their innovations to the prize. In addition to entries from the US and Canada in North America, 1 entry was received from Mexico.

Competing entries in the running for the prize include:

  • Wearables – smart glasses to aid memory recollection through story-telling AI and facial recognition, smart gloves to learn from the environment a person is in and help prompt routines, and activity trackers linked to smartphones to support management of daily activities.
  • Cognitive interventions – software to train cognitive skills and prevent further memory problems, virtual reality games featuring reminiscing opportunities to help provide useful cues and prompts for people living with dementia, and games to help people with dementia maintain and reduce the speed of decline of life skills and brain functions thought to be lost.
  • Technology for the home and physical aids – in-home avatars and AI chat companions, personalized indoor lighting informed by daily activity to help alleviate depression, poor sleep and improve wellbeing, and navigation and walking aids to ensure people are able to safely traverse their environments.

Over half of the applications (57%) were led by businesses, with a further 18% of applications from academic team leads at universities and research institutes. 

Teams that entered the prize have highlighted co-design with people living with dementia as a key area in which they would like support. A defining feature of the Longitude Prize of Dementia is its Lived Experience Advisory Panel – a consultative group of people who have dementia themselves or care for people living with dementia. They will provide innovators with insights and advice to ensure the technologies developed through the prize are designed for the diverse and changing needs of people living with dementia. 

Dame Wendy Hall, member of the Longitude Prize Committee and professor of computer science at University of Southampton said: “It is extremely gratifying to know that the Longitude Prize on Dementia has resonated with innovators from around the world. Around 50 million people worldwide are living with dementia and that number is predicted to increase to 153 million by 2050.

“The judges will now select 23 of the most promising entries to receive £80,000 Discovery Awards to develop solutions that learn from a person’s data – about what they do, who they know and what’s most important to them as an individual – to provide personalised technologies that make it easier to live independently for longer with this devastating condition.”

Following the entry window coming to a close at the end of January, the 175 entries will be assessed by the prize judges, with advice from members of the lived experience panel. Later this year, 23 teams will be awarded £80,000 Discovery Awards to develop their solutions. From these, 5 will go on to win £300,000 grants in 2024 to turn ideas into real-world products. Finally, one winner will be awarded the £1 million top prize in 2026. 

Wider support valued at more than £1 million has been funded to provide innovators with crucial insight and expertise, such as access to data, specialist facilities, collaborations with people living with dementia and expert advice on technical and business aspects of the innovation and to facilitate knowledge sharing between participants.

In addition to the funding provided by the Alzheimer’s Society and Innovate UK, the prize has received donations from three UK donors: The Hunter Foundation, CareTech Foundation and Heather Corrie. In the US it is supported by AARP and in Canada by AGE-WELL and CABHI.