Solutions, ideas being sought for drug crisis

Dec. 15 is deadline for all submissions

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Creative minds have less than two weeks to propose solutions to the Buckeye State’s opioid crisis.

The state of Ohio is spending $1 billion annually to battle the opioid problem with prevention, education, treatment and recovery efforts and law enforcement. During his State of the State address in June, Gov. John Kasich called for Ohio Third Frontier to spend $20 million to accelerate scientific and technological breakthroughs that could help combat the U.S. opioid problem.

Ohio Third Frontier is a state initiative that identifies and advances promising technology. The Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge was created as part of that initiative to generate new ideas through competition to find innovative solutions to address prevention, treatment and overdose response.

The Opioid Challenge is using $8 million of the $20 million to incentivize ideas from across the nation.

The challenge is in three phases. The Idea Phase has open since Oct 18, in which anyone could submit their ideas to help combat the problem. Up to five of the most promising ideas will be selected for a top prize of $10,000 and runners-up will be entered to win $500 prizes. Forty $500 prizes will be awarded — 20 to “citizen scientists” and 20 to professionals/experts. Submissions will be accepted until Dec. 15, and should identify a problem or an unmet need, and outline a possible solution.

The Challenge Phase will then seek expertise of the tech industry from around the globe to advance technical solutions spurred by the ideas generated in the Idea Phase. Winners of the Challenge Phase will receive monetary prizes and progress to the next phase to refine and cultivate their solutions into products in the last phase, the Product Phase.

The Product Phase will enable winners to develop and refine their solutions for entry into the market.

“We are inviting corporate support to increase the size of the prize pools for the Challenge and Product phases. This accelerates product development and market entry, making solutions available more quickly to those who need it,” states the Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge website. There is at least $6.5 million already available in the prize pool for the Challenge and Product Phases.

“This challenge is open to everyone who has an idea. We got the idea for this from General Electric and the National Football League asking for ideas about how to prevent concussions. I think a new type of helmet came out of that,” said Lisa Colbert, Ohio Development Services Agency Public Information Officer. “We think ideas can come from anyone. We want to generate ideas and then we will share them with the world to try to solve this problem.”

Colbert said that since the Idea Phase opened in October, the agency has received more than 200 submissions across 20 states and 34 Ohio counties.

According to the website, ideas should use one or more of the technologies involved in diagnostics, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, health information technology and software to solve problems in pain management, addiction and recovery management, to name a few.

The top prize ideas will be evaluated on criteria such as describing the problem in detail, as well as what is missing in current approaches; proposed solution which includes technology involved and how it solves the problem; and a description of resources and time needed to implement the solution. Runner-up prizes will be selected from a random drawing of those ideas that explain the passion behind the idea and describe either the problem and unmet need, or the problem and an idea for a solution.

Ideas should be submitted online at, where more information about the challenge can be found.

“We encourage everyone to submit their ideas. It is really that broad,” Colbert said.