USM COVID Research & Innovation Task Force Launches App Challenge

At Least $18,000 in Prizes Available for Innovative App Solutions to COVID-19 Related Problem

Baltimore, Md. (May 28, 2020) – The University System of Maryland (USM) COVID Research & Innovation Task Force invites the USM community to help the State of Maryland find solutions to the current health crisis. The task force is launching the USM COVID App Challenge, a competition to develop an innovative app to solve a Maryland COVID-19-related problem.
Cash prizes totaling at least $18,000 will be distributed among USM Student Teams and USM Community Teams, including at least three $3,000 awards for USM Student Teams, made possible with support from the Alex. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship at UMBC. 

Participants are encouraged to design an app that could serve the following roles, for example:
  • Support health care workers, first responders, and frontline workers.
  • Link small business with key resources.
  • Assist educators with online instruction.
  • Connect Marylanders with needed services.
  • Enable a safe return to work and social interaction.
  • Bring Marylanders together to respond to COVID-19.

“The COVID App Challenge will harness the innovation and talent that’s right within our grasp throughout our system,” said USM Vice Chancellor for Economic Development J. Thomas Sadowski. “This competition will bring forward the energy and intellect to help address the public health crisis in Maryland.”

Eligible participants in the competition are undergraduates and graduate students; faculty and staff; personnel from USM-affiliated research parks, business incubators, and start-up companies.

Companies providing technical and other resources to participants include Amazon Web Services and IBM, Inc. Participants may leverage the AWS-hosted COVID-19 data lake that is composed of multiple sources of data, in addition to other training, tools, and mentorship. AWS will also offer challenge winners and runners-up AWS Credits to further their development and success. As a USM COVID App Challenge partner, IBM is offering competition participants access to IBM Cloud accounts and COVID-19 Starter Kits, which are quick-start guides to begin creating applications tied to easy-to-understand use cases in just minutes. IBM technical experts will participate throughout the COVID App Challenge as mentors and judges. Following the USM COVID App Challenge, IBM is encouraging participants to enter the Call for Code Global Challenge. Now in its third year, Call for Code is the largest technical challenge of its kind, inviting the world's software developers and innovators to take on society’s biggest issues with open source-powered technology.

Specific details on eligibility, entry guidelines judging criteria, and prizes are available on the task force website. Entries can be submitted Monday, June 8 (noon EDT) through Sunday, June 28 (midnight). Winners will be announced Friday, July 3 (noon EDT).

The USM recently introduced the website as a one-stop portal to share information on systemwide innovations and engage with policymakers, business leaders, and the entrepreneurial community to help find solutions related to the pandemic and bring them to scale.

Businesses and organizations seeking guidance or the ability to partner with USM institutions on specific initiatives can use the task force website to connect with system experts. The task force is engaging with business and industry to exchange ideas and help the USM move its products and responses into the marketplace.

USM Chancellor Jay A. Perman announced the formation of the COVID Research & Innovation Task Force in April. The task force is leveraging and mobilizing systemwide research and innovations to engage policymakers, business leaders, and the entrepreneurial community in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Contact: Mike Lurie
Phone: 301.445.2719