Emily Singer

A View from Emily Singer

A $1m Netflix-style Challenge for DNA Sequencing

Life Technologies hopes crowdsourcing will improve its new sequencing technology.

  • December 14, 2010

Hoping to benefit from some of the same brain power as the computing and information technology industry, Life Technologies’ has announced a $7 million dollar competition to improve its new sequencing technology. The novel device, which officially goes on sale today, reads DNA using semiconductor technology. At $50,000, it costs about a tenth of other sequencing machines (See ‘Democratizing DNA Sequencing’.)

The technology comes from Ion Torrent, a start-up that Life Technologies bought earlier this year for $375 million. At its heart is a semiconductor chip manufactured in the same foundries as computer and cell-phone microprocessors.

According to a release from the company, there will be seven individual challenges, each with a $1 million prize. Only the first three challenges have been announced thus far, and all focus on Ion semiconductor sequencing.

They are to 1) produce twice as much sequence data, 2) to do it twice as fast, and 3) with twice the accuracy. The threshold for winning is to produce results 2x better than the best internal Ion Torrent record at the time of submission.

Additional information about the first three Grand Challenges will be released early in the year and information on the remaining four challenges related to Life Technologies products will be announced later in 2011.

Tech Obsessive?
Become an Insider to get the story behind the story — and before anyone else.
Subscribe today

Uh oh–you've read all five of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium

$179.95/yr US PRICE

More from Rewriting Life

Reprogramming our bodies to make us healthier.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.

  • Insider Premium {! insider.prices.premium !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Our award winning magazine, unlimited access to our story archive, special discounts to MIT Technology Review Events, and exclusive content.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

    First Look. Exclusive early access to stories.

    Insider Conversations. Join in and ask questions as our editors talk to innovators from around the world.

  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus ad-free web experience, select discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning magazine and daily delivery of The Download, our newsletter of what’s important in technology and innovation.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

You've read of free articles this month.