Breakthrough Initiative

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Breakthrough Initiative: A new way to do science for solving the biggest problems of mankind

Leipzig, GermanyMadrid, Spain
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Growing through the crowd. A new way to accelerate scientific research through existing infrastructure and massive human resources.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if we could overcome the biggest world's challenges through science?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Berkley University has published a document call "The 50 Breakthroughs: Critical scientific and technological advances needed for sustainable global development" on which problems must society overcome through technology and science to have a better world. Currently, scientific community is working in isolated Silos, losing advantages of a collaborative work and the possibility of working openly for solving the most important issues for society

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Breakthrough Initiative born as a way to accelerate the process of scientific research focused on fundamental social problems, creating a huge community of researchers and people willing to support this investigations, working as a whole to create social breakthroughs for the future. How this works? BTI offers a platform to openly share and publish experiments, data, results and knowledge for achieving common goals. As incentive for scientist, BTI helps with divulgation and planning of simple ways of contributing , such that any person around the globe, even without scientific background, can help to generate massive data support and at the same time contributing to education.


Leipzig's Social Impact Lab Scholarship Residence
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

How this works? Every person that is willing to open his research to the world can go into BTI and publish experiments, data, results and knowledge; other researches can add the same information to create a big database. But that's not all, as incentive, BTI will take the information that the researchers upload and create simple on-line experiments, so any person around the globe, even without science background, can help to generate massive data for the research. So, if you are not a scientist, you can go into the platform and perform activities that will improve the data volume of the research increasing the quality of the statistical projections and help to generate real breakthroughs.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

In 1996 an international group of scientist gathered in bermuda and discuss how the data from the Human Genome Project (HGP) should be release. They came with the idea of the "Bermuda Principles" a set of rules that says that the data should be release immediately to the public domain. This groundbreaking initiative had huge effects in how this particular project grow and accelerated the process of research. The HGP took thirteen years and three billion dollars to sequence the first human genome. Now, after the Bermuda Principles, it is possible to sequence a human genome in a matter of days and just USD$1.000 of budget. Imagine if we could extend this principles of open science into the most important world's problems, we could achieve amazing advances in medicine, technology and in the well-being of the world. We just need a place to collaborate with the right incentives.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

1.Academic Impact: Integration to the curriculum of universities and schools. This would allow institutions that do not have large resources for research to join the scientific experimentation for both: development and academic purposes. 2.Civil Society Impact: People outside the scientific community, promoting collaboration and joint development. Creation of opportunities for multidisciplinary interaction. 3.Global Impact: Acceleration of the process of scientific discovery, giving us the opportunity to benefit from achievements that would otherwise be available only for future generations

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Once the platform is tested and proven and achieve a critical mass of researchers engaged, we’ll introduce a new component to the system. Private companies will be able to promote R&D challenges through the platform. The researchers will be stimulated to apply as international teams. The company should cover the costs of organizing this open challenge, as well as provide sufficient economic incentives to get teams engaged in the competition.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are individual initiatives that are taking advantage of BD like Polymath, which allows for the solution of complex mathematical operations in a massive and collaborative way; or Galaxy Zoo, which allows astronomers to classify galaxies more quickly than any research centre; or Foldit, which uses an online game to discover new proteins. BTI differs from the above-mentioned initiatives in its ability to host hundreds of different researches simultaneously, generating a global research community, clustered by field of interest, but without losing exposure to other fields of knowledge.

Founding Story

I been working for years in open innovation platforms aiming social issues trough entrepreneurship in Latin America. A year ago I moved to Europe to spread this way of do things here. One day i was reading about the Polymath Project, where a professor of math try to solve a really hard math problem through his blog collaboratively. The results where amazing, in 48 hours he not just solve the problem, he (with all the collaborators) solved an advance harder version of the same. This makes me think... Why we don't use open innovation platforms to use the power of crowd intelligence to solve scientific problems that can help humanity?.


We are a team of two people that been working for a long time in poverty-related issues and both with science backgrounds. Jose Brito, . QUantum physicist and additionally for years worked as volunteer on social proyects focused on overcoming poverty. He developed a scientific career as experimental physicist with a strong concern on how scientist can contribute to develope a better society, getting involved in using laser technology for understanding better bacterial infections. He is founder and former director a a network of chilean Researchers for discussing scientific issues and at the same time the rol of science in society (Red INVECA), participating in the co-organization of a series of related meetings (Germany, France, USA, Chile), always trying to bring researchers closer to social issues. He is the co-founder of BI and he is firmly convinced that tools from science can be brought closer to common people for accelerating the development, and that access to open information and open science initiatives are the necessary step for transforming society. Patricio Guzmán has been working several year with social-focus' entrepreneurship in charge of their development, implementation and financing. Patricio studied Industrial Civil Engineering at the Bío-Bío University in Chile. He has acquired more than 7 years of experience working with poverty-related issues on different countries in Latin America, making special emphasis on inclusive business models and innovation. Patricio worked as a teacher of "Innovation and new technologies" and “entrepreneurship" in San Sebastian University and Workers University in Chile, respectively. Also was working several years on the TECHO Foundation where he had the opportunity to work in countries like Haiti, Argentina, Dominican Republic, Chile, etc. Finishing his career there as Director of the Entrepreneurship Center in south Chile. After that he continue his job on Innovation been the Co-founder of Socialab in Colombia to later emigrate to Europe to implement the organization in the continent and to become the founder of Breakthrough Initiative in Germany. Both had important networks that can make this happen, they just need the first push to create something really incredible. "We are creating this because everyone said that is impossible, and there are too few people trying the impossible."
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