Your mission: A quantum shift for new antiviral agents

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. According to the WHO, after more than a year of the pandemic, almost four million people have died worldwide and there are still no effective therapeutics against SARS-CoV-2. 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. We cordially and urgently invite you to this future-relevant challenge:
Show that your ideas can become breakthrough innovations.

Prove this: Your approach on drug discovery can yield relevant therapeutics against viruses.

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. Solutions may include, for example, new approaches to broad-spectrum antivirals, but also platform technologies for the development of antiviral agents.

So: Demonstrate that you can provide new antiviral agents with your systematic approach. 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.

»Patients need antivirals in their fight against infections. However, too many viral diseases still cannot be treated. Radically new approaches for antiviral agents are needed to ensure better treatment of patients in the future.«

Marylyn Addo, Head of Infectious Disease at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf

Marylyn Addo

We support: Your disruptive 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 will fund the teams’ work with up to 700,000 euros. In the further course of the Challenge, this funding may be higher. 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.

The Challenge

Our Challenge is built on competition between a variety of teams. Over the three-year duration of the Challenge, we will jointly find out which approaches have potential for a breakthrough innovation. Based on interim evaluations, the jury will decide which teams will continue to participate in the Challenge. As a finalist, you will get the opportunity to demonstrate your groundbreaking approach in a proof-of-concept. Up to 11 teams will participate in Stage 1.

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


Do you have further questions?

You can find more information about our Challenge in the Call for Submissions and the participation agreement. If you have any further questions or suggestions, please feel free to contact us at
Jano Costard Jano Costard, Challenge Officer