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Congressmen Young and Harris Introduce the Innovation Prize Program

July 8, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC: Today, Congressman Todd Young (IN-09) and Congressman Andy Harris, M.D. (MD-01) introduced an amendment to the 21st Century Cures Act, which will establish an Innovation Prize Program to encourage competition in the field of biomedical science.


Innovation Prize Program (I-Prize) establishes an X-Prize type program within the new Innovation Fund created by the 21st Century Cures Act. The I-Prize will identify and fund areas of biomedical science that could lead to significant advances, through the creation of a prize competition. The new I-Prize Program will receive an additional $80million per year for five years over what is currently in the Innovation Fund. The new funding is fully offset.


“The United States is currently spending $632 billion per year through Medicare to cover health services of qualified beneficiaries. To help lower taxpayer costs, as well as improve patient outcomes, this amendment will incentivize development of medical breakthroughs. The amendment does so by creating a medical prize program to encourage scientists and entrepreneurs—especially those that don’t often benefit from current NIH grants—to develop cures for some of the most debilitating and costly diseases,” said Congressman Young.


“The United States has been the world leader in biomedical research, yet we are still faced with many incurable diseases such as Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and numerous types of cancer.  The I-Prize will encourage medical innovation and technological advancements by spurring private sector investments in areas where research is lacking. It’s time to inspire scientists across the country to take the bold actions necessary to cure these horrible diseases,” said Dr. Harris.


Prize competitions have been shown to leverage private sector funds to accomplish a difficult problem.  Famous prize competitions include the Ansari XPRIZE for Suborbital Spaceflight which was won in 2004 after more than 26 teams from seven nations invested over $100 million to win the $10 million prize.  The new $400million of funding in the program is fully offset with reforms to mandatory spending programs.


The 21st Century Cures Act was passed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee and will take bold action to accelerate the discovery, development, and delivery of promising new treatments and cures for patients, as well as maintains our nation’s standing as the biomedical innovation capital of the world.  


The 21st Century Cures Act included several provisions written by Congressman Harris. These provisions focus on more funding for young scientists during their peak age of discovery, increasing investments in high-risk high-reward projects, and increasing efficiency and accountability at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).