Israel-based ZzappMalaria Wins IBM Watson AI XPrize

By Nicholas Say Nicholas Say has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on June 28, 2021

ZzaapMalaria, an Israel-based startup aiming to combat malaria, won the first prize of $3 million in the prestigious IBM Watson AI XPRIZE competition and was selected “Most Inspiring Team.”

The international competition challenges teams all around the world to harvest the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to address some of the world’s most pressing problems. While the competition was launched back in 2016, ZzappMalaria didn’t join until 2018.

ZzappMalaria uses AI and other technologies to identify potential sources of Malaria, a disease that kills more than 400k people every year. The most likely victims of the disease are children under five years old in developing economies.

While many countries have been able to eliminate the disease by starting large-scale operations, this approach is not possible for most nations. ZzaapMalaria approaches combating the problem in a cost-effective manner and under “the most challenging environmental conditions”.

By using IBM Watson’s AI model, the app predicts how many small water bodies form as a result of the weather, allowing officials and organizations to optimize timing to launch their operations. The app is also able to suggest location-specific tasks to minimize the chances of an outbreak, all from the convenience of a mobile app.

Judges took into consideration four parameters to choose a winner from the pool of three finalists selected back in February of 2020: technical solution, real-world impact, scalability, ethics, and safety.

In addition to running the competition, IBM also provided the participating startups with guidance and support during the competitions. This provided them with valuable insights from some of the leading AI experts in the world to further improve their solutions.

Arnon Houri-Yafin, CEO and founder of ZzappMalaria, referred to the competition by stating:

“The Zzapp team is deeply grateful to Xprize and IBM Watson for acknowledging the importance of the fight against malaria. We will dedicate the prize money to one ambitious goal: demonstrating that rapid malaria elimination is possible in Sub Saharan Africa.”

The Israel-based startup is currently running operations in Ghana, Zanzibar, Kenya, and Ethiopia, using its earnings from several grants like the Gates Foundation and the Innovative Vector Control Consortium (IVCC).

By Nicholas Say Nicholas Say has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Nicholas Ross Say is a news desk editor at Grit Daily. An award-winning journalist, he covers the daily startup beat. He grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan and has lived in South America and South East Asia. At present, Nicholas lives in Southern Vietnam where the Sun shines, and the noodles flow like wine. He's written for Blockonomi and Coin Journal, among others.

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