U.K.-U.S. prize challenges

Accelerating the adoption and development of privacy-enhancing technologies (PETs)

Transforming financial crime prevention and boosting pandemic response capabilities through privacy-preserving federated learning

Click here to see the phase 1 winners and apply to participate in red teams.

Red team registration opens: 10th November 2022
Red team registration closes: 2nd December 2022

Innovating to tackle global challenges

Privacy-enhancing technologies (PETs) have the potential to help us devise data-driven, innovative solutions to tackle the most pressing global societal challenges we're facing, while preserving citizens’ fundamental right to privacy, which constitutes a foundation for democratic societies. 

By enabling organisations to share and collaboratively analyse sensitive data in a privacy-preserving manner, PETs open up unprecedented opportunities to harness the power of data through innovative and trustworthy applications.

UK-US collaboration

That’s why the U.K. and U.S. governments are delivering a set of prize challenges - announced at the Summit for Democracy in December 2021 - to unleash the potential of these democracy-affirming technologies.

Make your contribution to tackle some of our most pressing societal challenges
Benefits of taking part

Innovators will compete for the chance to:

Win cash prizes from a total prize pool of approximately £1.3m / $1.6m

Engage with regulators, government agencies and global companies

Have their solutions profiled at the second Summit for Democracy, to be convened by President Joe Biden, in the first half of 2023.

The goals of the challenges

Drive innovation in the technological development and application of novel PETs

Deliver strong end-to-end privacy guarantees against a set of common threats and privacy attacks, leveraging a combination of input and output privacy techniques

Develop a privacy-preserving solution that is capable of efficiently generating high-utility machine learning models for one of two predefined use-cases in finance and public health, detailed below

Phase 1 winners and red team recruitment

The winners of the first phase of the prize challenges are listed below:

- Corvus Research Limited

- DeepMind and OpenMined**

- Diagonal Works

- GMV

- Faculty

- Featurespace Limited

- Privitar Limited

- Team IBM Research

- Team MusCAT: researchers from the Broad Institute, MIT, Harvard Business School, UT Austin, University of Toronto

- Team Secret Computers: researchers from Inpher, Inc.

- University of Cambridge

- University of Liverpool

**DeepMind and OpenMined have chosen not to accept any prize funds for this challenge.

Find profiles of the winners from the U.S. challenge here 

In phase 2, teams from both sides of the Atlantic will go on to develop their prototypes.

Red team recruitment now open

We are excited to launch applications for red teams, who will participate in the third phase of the challenges. Red teams will rigorously test the privacy-preserving capabilities of the top-scoring solutions from the second phase of the challenges to assess the final winners. 

Starting in December 2022, red teams will design and develop novel privacy attacks which they will then launch against participants’ solutions in phase 3 (February 2023). Top-scoring red teams will be awarded prizes from a combined pool of ~$225,000 (£200,000).

For more details about the red teaming process see:

Here for US participants

Here for UK participants

The deadline for registration is 11.59pm UTC on 2nd December 2022.

Structure of the prize challenges

The challenges, which are free to enter, are taking the form of a multi-stage competition involving a white paper submission, prototype development, and a red-teaming phase.

Participants can select one track or both tracks, or for extra points, develop a solution that works for both.

Track 1 
Transforming financial crime prevention

Innovators will develop solutions that help tackle the challenge of international money laundering, which finances organized crime including human trafficking and terrorist financing, and undermines economic prosperity – costing up to US$2 trillion each year, according to UN estimates.

This illicit activity could be more effectively identified through information sharing and collaborative analytics among financial organisations, but such approaches are made more challenging by legal and technical requirements to ensure customer privacy. Organisations including the Financial Action Task Force have highlighted the potential of PETs to help tackle these barriers by enabling privacy-preserving access to data.

Innovators will develop end-to-end privacy-preserving federated learning solutions to detect potentially anomalous payments, leveraging a combination of input and output privacy techniques. To develop solutions, innovators will use synthetic datasets created by SWIFT, the global provider of secure financial messaging services.

While developing the solutions, innovators in the U.K. will be able to engage with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the U.K. National Economic Crime Centre, and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and innovators in the U.S. will be able to engage with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

Find the technical briefs for Track 1 here

Track 2 
Forecasting to bolster pandemic response capabilities

Innovators will bolster pandemic response capabilities in both the United States and United Kingdom by developing privacy-preserving federated learning solutions to improve forecasting. The COVID-19 pandemic - which has incurred an immense human cost and socio-economic impact across the globe - has demonstrated the importance of preparing for public health emergencies by harnessing the power of data through privacy-preserving data sharing and analytics.

Innovators will develop privacy-preserving federated learning solutions to forecast an individual’s risk of infection, leveraging a combination of input and output privacy techniques. Participants will have access to a synthetic dataset created by the University of Virginia’s Biocomplexity Institute, which represents a digital twin of a population with statistical and dynamical properties similar to a real population.

While developing the solutions, innovators in the U.K. will be able to engage with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), NHS England, and the UKRI-funded Data and Analytics Research Environments UK (DARE UK), and innovators in the U.S. will be able to engage with staff from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Find the technical briefs for Track 2 here

The prize challenges have been developed as part of a joint effort between the United Kingdom and the United States.

The prize challenges have been developed as part of a joint effort between the United Kingdom and the United States.

The challenges have been led by the U.K.’s Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI) and Innovate UK, the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), in cooperation with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

We are grateful for the involvement of Data and Analytics Research Environments UK (DARE UK), Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the National Crime Agency (NCA), NHS England, the University of Virginia’s Biocomplexity Institute, and SWIFT. We are also grateful for the advice we have received from experts across our governments and among civil society.

Unleash the positive impact of democracy-affirming technologies