Today, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate, in collaboration with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, launched the $1.55 million USD Opioid Detection Challenge. The Challenge calls upon innovators to submit novel plans for rapid, nonintrusive detection tools that will help find illicit opioids in international mail.

The abuse of opioids such as fentanyl has created an unprecedented public health crisis across the United States. International mail has been identified as a route for illicit opioids entering the United States, commonly transported in nearly pure, powdered form. Consequently, large-scale drug trafficking can occur via very small packages sent in the mail.

The Challenge calls on innovators in a wide range of fields, from forensic science to industrial quality assurance to artificial intelligence, to help disrupt the flow of opioids into the United States. Submissions should be well-developed plans for automated, user-friendly tools and technologies that have the potential to quickly and accurately detect opioids in parcels, without disrupting the flow of mail.

Interested in entering the Challenge? Submit a plan by 4:59 PM ET, Wednesday, April 24, 2019. The judges will evaluate the submissions and select up to eight finalists to advance to Stage 2 of the competition. Each finalist is expected to be awarded an equal share of the $800,000 Stage 1 prize pool.

In Stage 2, finalists will participate in a 14-week prototyping accelerator, during which they will develop their plans into testable prototypes and compete for an additional $750,000 in cash prizes. Stage 2 will culminate in a live test event hosted by DHS, where finalists will convene for on-site testing of their prototypes. One grand prize winner is expected to be awarded $500,000 and one runner-up is expected to be awarded $250,000.

The Challenge is open to international and domestic participants, as defined in the Rules, Terms and Conditions.

Want to learn more about the Challenge? Join our informational webinar on March 11, 2019 at 1:30 ET. During the webinar, we will give an in-depth overview of the Challenge stages, review the solution requirements, and answer questions during a live Q&A. Register today!

Join the Challenge conversation on social media using #OpioidDetection.