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DHS Seeks Prototype Concepts for Opioid Detection Challenge

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The Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate is looking for ideas on how to detect opioids entering the country by international mail, the department said Friday.

DHS will award up to $1.6M in prizes for the Opioid Detection Challenge, which is a collaborative effort between Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Office of National Drug Control Policy that was launched in February to address the current opioid crisis.

“We know that international mail is a major route for illicit opioids entering the country, and new detection tools will be critical for cutting off the flow of these dangerous drugs,” noted William Bryan, a DHS senior official performing the duties of the undersecretary for science and technology.

Eight finalists will share a prize pool of $800K for the first phase, followed by a 14-week prototyping period for an additional $750K as part of phase two.

The second increment will provide the finalists with access to relevant data, mentorship activities, webinars and government expert guidance. The final event will involve mandatory on-site live testing at a government facility for a grand prize of $500K and a consolation prize of $250K.

According to the department, participants may leverage a range of technologies and methods such as chemical and anomaly analysis, artificial intelligence, machine learning and other data-driven capabilities. Interested participants may submit applications through April 24.

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