Today, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) announced the grand prize winner and runner-up in the Opioid Detection Challenge. IDSS will receive the $500,000 grand prize and One Resonance will receive the $250,000 runner-up prize.

William N. Bryan, DHS Senior Official Performing the Duties of Under Secretary for Science and Technology, announced the winners at the DHS Transportation Security Laboratory in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He was joined by ONDCP Director Jim Carroll, CBP Deputy Commissioner Robert E. Perez, and USPIS Chief Postal Inspector Gary Barksdale.

At the announcement event, attendees viewed live demonstrations of the finalists’ technologies, seeing firsthand how these new tools can help disrupt the flow of opioids through the international mail. The event celebrated the finalists’ progress in the 14-week accelerator, during which they developed their solutions into testable prototypes.

How the winning solutions detect illicit opioids

The grand prize winning solution from IDSS combines a 3D X-ray computed tomography (CT) scanner with automated detection algorithms. It identifies anomalies in X-ray images based on the scanned item’s features and physical properties. 

“The Opioid Detection Challenge is a collaborative success story — in particular, the site visits to mail facilities were key to understanding the big picture and what is needed for a solution to be practical. Our solution transfers years of aviation security experience into opioid detection, and applies the practical constraints we learned from this Challenge.”
James Connelly, Chief Technology Officer of IDSS

The runner-up, One Resonance, developed a quadrupole resonance technology that uses radio-frequency signals to search for specific materials. An alarm is triggered when a signal associated with an illicit substance is detected.

“The One Resonance team was thrilled to participate in the Opioid Detection Challenge to help identify new solutions for a problem with fatal consequences. One Resonance demonstrated an effective non-imaging, chemical-specific screening method; we focused on developing an easy-to-operate solution that meets the immediate inspection needs.”
Pablo Prado, President of One Resonance

Deploying new detection solutions after the Challenge

S&T and its government partners plan to continue working with the providers of the most promising solutions to further develop prototypes and establish follow-on production agreements. The government plans to deploy these tools in international mail facilities, express consignment facilities, and other environments across the country that call for rapid, accurate detection of opioids and related substances.

“The influx of illicit drugs is one of the nation’s greatest threats. Through this combined effort to address the trafficking of opioids, S&T, our federal partners, and the private sector have produced technology solutions that will better protect the American people from the effects of this devastating crisis.”
William N. Bryan, DHS Senior Official Performing the Duties of Under Secretary for Science and Technology

Congratulations to the Challenge winners! Help share the announcement using #OpioidDetection.