In Celebration of World Rainforest Day, 33 Qualified Teams and 9 Judges Announced in $10M XPRIZE Competition to Improve Understandings and Preservation of the Planet’s Rainforests

News provided by XPRIZE
Jun 23, 2021 15:50 KST

LOS ANGELES--(Business Wire / Korea Newswire) June 23, 2021 -- XPRIZE, the global leader in designing and operating incentive competitions to solve humanity’s grand challenges, officially announced today the teams moving forward in the $10M XPRIZE Rainforest aimed at improving our understanding of the rainforest ecosystem.

Sponsored by Alana Foundation, the five-year XPRIZE Rainforest is a call-to-action to help save rainforests through the development of transformative, scalable, and affordable technology to autonomously survey and monitor biodiversity in real-time, leading to insights that communicate the health, well-being, and value of standing tropical rainforests. XPRIZE Rainforest is co-developing an inclusive framework throughout all stages of the competition that ensures competing teams co-design and co-create solutions with Indigenous Peoples and local communities as key stakeholders and not just beneficiaries.

These 33 teams will now leverage existing and emerging technologies, such as robotics, remote sensing, data analysis, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, to develop new rainforest biodiversity survey tools that deliver information more quickly and affordably, and in unprecedented detail.

“There has never been a more urgent time for our planet,” Peter Houlihan, Vice President of Biodiversity & Conservation at XPRIZE said. “These teams show great promise for developing exciting new approaches to enhance shared understandings of the planet’s most complex and biodiverse terrestrial ecosystems.”

All registered teams submitted a qualifying submission detailing their approach and proposed technologies. The judging panel selected 33 teams, which hail from more than 16 countries and bring a collection of diverse backgrounds and industry experience.

The XPRIZE Rainforest qualified teams are:

· ACT NOW - Amazonas Action Alliance, Ecuador
· AirWrx, Canada
· Alouatta, Mexico
· AraceEye, Canada
· BiodivExplorer, Switzerland
· BioSTREAM, United Kingdom
· Bioverse, Brazil
· Blue Devil Rainforest Divers, United States
· Brazilian Team, Brazil
· Dinizia Excelsa, Brazil
· FLOATING FAB, Peru
· GainForest, Switzerland
· Inspire Robotics, United States
· KAA Initiative, Brazil
· Kreativno pero, Serbia
· Lorax, United States
· Map of Life, United States
· Mimicry Maniacs, United States
· Mowgli, India
· Nga Kaitiaki o te Ngaherehere, New Zealand
· PROVIDENCE PLUS, Spain
· Rainforest Quest, United States
· Reforester, Netherlands
· Selvascope, Netherlands
· Short-Eared Dogs, United States
· Team Morpho, United States
· Team Robotics, Japan
· Team Waponi!, United States
· Tengo Research Foundation, Panama
· Treeswift (Trefos Inc), United States
· Welcome to the Jungle, United States
· XiniX AI, Belgium
· Zissou, Brazil

Additional details about all competing teams can be found here. Additionally, watch Peter Houlihan speak about XPRIZE Rainforest, performanced-based design and goal setting for impact on a World Rainforest Day event as part of the Rainforest Ambitions series. Register here(https://bit.ly/2SkYr4V).

In order to win the competition, the winning team will survey the most biodiversity contained in 100 hectares of tropical rainforest in 24 hours and produce the most impactful real time insights within 48 hours.

“Nature Based Solutions are key to confronting the climate crises. We are celebrating teams from the Americas, Europe, Oceania, and Asia all united on the same goal: protecting our standing forests that provide water, biodiversity, livelihood, and our prosperity with an inclusive bioeconomy. The joining of these teams shows the urgency we have to change the scenario we are living. The world needs intelligent, possible, powerful solutions, but above all, made by people in communion. We hope that Alana Rainforest XPRIZE will inspire activism, science, and innovation for the benefit of the environment and people all over the world,” said Ana Lúcia Villela, president of Alana Foundation.

Successful technologies developed in the competition will demonstrate scalable and affordable capabilities that measurably improve biodiversity monitoring, including through better autonomous operations, innovative detection methodologies, and rapid data integration to provide new Insights in real time and at unprecedented levels of detail.

The XPRIZE Rainforest Judging Panel consists of an experienced and talented group of experts working at the highest levels of academia, leading conservation organizations, prestigious research institutions and grantmaking organizations. The 9 judges include:

· Dr. Jorge Ahumada -- Senior Wildlife Conservation Scientist, Conservation International
· Dr. Luisa Arnedo -- Primatologist, Conservationist, and Senior Program Officer, National Geographic Society
· Dr. Stuart Davies -- ​​​Director, Center for Tropical Forest Science-Forest Global Earth Observatory at the Smithsonian Institution
· Dr. Lian Pin Koh -- Professor of Conservation, Science, Technology & Policy, Founder, Conservation Drones
· Dr. Lucia Lohmann -- Executive Director, Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation
· Dr. Kevin Njabo -- Associate Director & Africa Director, UCLA Center for Tropical Research and the Congo Basin Institute
· Dr. Vojtech Novotny -- Head, Dep. of Ecology, Biology Centre, Czech Academy of Sciences Director, New Guinea Binatang Research Center, Professor of Ecology, Zoology Dep., University of South Bohemia
· Atossa Soltani -- Founder & President of the Board, Amazon Watch; Director of Global Strategy for Amazon Sacred Headwaters Initiative
· Dr. Dave Thau -- Lead Scientist, World Wildlife Fund Global Data and Tech

The next step for the competition is the semifinal round and then a final round of testing before the grand prize decision in 2024. A total prize purse of $10 Million US dollars (USD) will be awarded throughout the lifespan of the prize, including a $250,0000 Bonus Prize that may be awarded at the Judging Panel’s discretion to one or more Finalist Teams whose Solutions demonstrate groundbreaking achievements. Milestone prizes will also be awarded equally for up to 25 teams that advance to Semifinals and up to 10 teams that advance to finals testing.

ABOUT XPRIZE

XPRIZE, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is the global leader in designing and implementing innovative competition models to solve the world’s grandest challenges. Active competitions include the $100M XPRIZE Carbon Removal, $15M XPRIZE Feed the Next Billion, $10 Million ANA Avatar XPRIZE and $5 Million XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling. For more information, visit xprize.org.

ABOUT ALANA FOUNDATION

Alana Foundation is an independent philanthropic organisation founded in 2012 in the United States. The Foundation supports initiatives in the areas of environment, inclusive education and health science research through grants and co-funding partnerships. It also engages with networks and global movements in those areas.

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