US federal agencies launch USD 1 million challenge for forecasting IUU fishing

Captain monitoring GPS on vessel.

The U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and the National Security Innovation Network (NSIN) – both of which operate under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Defense – have jointly launched the “Global Fishing Forecast Grand Challenge,” which will award USD 1 million (EUR 918,000) to entities or individuals who can develop effective strategies for forecasting global maritime vessel traffic involved in illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

“The objective of the NSIN/NGA Global Fishing Forecast Grand Challenge is to elucidate IUU fishing activities by transitioning the analytic paradigm from detection to anticipation, via the development of novel and effective forecasting capabilities,” NSIN said.

Examples of innovative strategies applicants may develop include how to properly distinguish IUU fishing activities from legitimate practices, new ways to effectively measure fishing effort, and automation of data forecasts and alerts. 

The challenge, targeting commercial and academic communities, will proceed in two phases, including a proposal round that aims to identify up to 10 finalists from eligible submissions and a pitch round that will conclude with picking the top three winners for the prize.

“We are using a challenge format with a USD 1 million prize pool to tap into innovative thinking outside of our traditional acquisition process,” Ronzelle Green, the director of NGA Research, said. “As a global leader in maritime domain awareness, NGA always looks for fresh, time-saving solutions, and the agency views the challenge as a way to expand partnerships.”

The USD 1 million in prize money will be split among the finalists. 

The finalists selected from the proposal round will be awarded USD 25,000 (23,000) each and then will be invited to participate in the pitch round. The first place winner of the pitch round will receive an additional USD 500,000 (EUR 459,000), second place will receive USD 200,000 (EUR 184,000), and the third-place winner will be awarded USD 50,000 (EUR 46,000). Finalists may also become eligible for follow-up contracts with NGA.

The deadline for proposal submissions is 16 February, with finalists announced on 25 March, a date which also marks the start of the pitch round. A pitch event will take place on 24 May, and the three winners will be announced in early summer of 2024.

The challenge is open to U.S. citizens, U.S.-owned and -operated companies, institutes of higher learning, and startups. Applicants may submit as individuals, teams, or partnered teams.

Photo courtesy of Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock


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