Your Challenge:
Broad-Spectrum Antivirals

Hello people with radical new ideas! We need breakthrough innovations to fight viral infections. We need bold ideas. We need you.

Viruses are an unpredictable threat to global health, the economy and society - we have known this at least since the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Several million people have died since the beginning of the pandemic. There is still a lack of effective therapeutics against SARS-CoV-2 and emerging variants. The truth is: there are still no therapeutics against many other viruses either. Potentiating viral loads, high mutation rates and limited targets are inherent to viruses, making them true "survival artists" and placing high demands on drug development. The great desire to overcome the pandemic helped new technologies based on mRNA and equally new ways in drug delivery to achieve a rapid breakthrough in vaccine development – contrary to the expectations of many experts.

Similarly, breakthroughs in antiviral drug development are needed. Highly innovative approaches are required to combat viral infections. That is why SPRIND is supporting new technological approaches for breakthrough innovations to combat viral infections with this Challenge.

Goal of this Challenge: New approaches for the development of antiviral therapeutics

The goal of the Challenge is to expand the repertoire of antiviral therapeutics with breakthrough technologies so that new treatment options will be available in the future and patients can be helped quickly. The Challenge teams are developing approaches for broad-spectrum antivirals and platform technologies for the rapid development of antiviral agents. At the end of the Challenge, the active agent resulting from the solution approach has to be tested in a proof of concept adapted to the development stage.

How we support breakthrough innovation

Participating in the Challenge pushes the teams to their full potential. We therefore provide intensive and individual support. This includes funding the teams as well as individual support from a Challenge coach, who has significant experience in the Challenge area and has already implemented high-impact innovations.

In the first year of the Challenge, SPRIND funded the teams' work with up to 700,000 euros, and in the current second year already with up to 1.5 million euros. Funding will increase again for the teams in the third stage. We provide funding quickly and unbureaucratically, so that the teams can concentrate fully on their innovations.

Thinking one step further: Ideas with the potential for disruptive innovations must be brought to market to benefit patients. That is why SPRIND continues to support projects with potential for breakthrough innovation even after the Challenge has ended.
Our Challenge is based on a competition between a large number of teams, in which we work together to find out which approaches have potential for a disruptive innovation. In the process, a jury decides which teams move on to the next round in each case based on interim evaluations. In the first stage, nine teams were selected to carry out their breakthrough research. In the current second stage, there are still six teams.

The Challenge

Start of the 2nd stage

After an intensive first year, the nine teams from the first stage presented their trailblazing research results to the jury and renowned investors in Leipzig. Six outstanding teams were selected for the second round. As part of the continuous exchange between the teams, two groups even merged to jointly advance their projects.

The Teams

Science Youtuber Jacob Beautemps introduces the six Challenge teams of stage 2 at Breaking Lab

Breaking Lab Antivirale Mittel

The Jury

Our jury of scientists and science entrepreneurs will evaluate all applications and select the teams that have what it takes to implement breakthrough innovations.
Joachim Spatz

Joachim Spatz

Karin Mölling

Karin Mölling

Detlev Riesner

Detlev Riesner

Nikolaus Rajewsky

Nikolaus Rajewsky

Manfred Schubert-Zsilavecz

Manfred Schubert-Zsilavecz

Holger Reithinger

Holger Reithinger


Do you have further questions?

If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to contact us at
Jano Costard Jano Costard, Challenge Officer


February 28, 2022

What is an "Innovation Challenge"? What role is played by competition and cooperation? And what are the current SPRIND challenges about? Our host Thomas Ramge asks: Dr. Diane Seimetz, co-founder of Biopharma Excellence and innovation coach, and Dr. Jano Costard, Challenge Officer of the Federal Agency for Disruptive Innovation.

Listen to the episode (in German).