Health Data Challenges


Health data challenges are open competitions that seek to draw on expertise and experience from a wide range of health, technology, open data and non-traditional partners to advance public health initiatives.

The Government of Canada has provided funding for MaRS Discovery District to run a series of data challenges that aim to provide further insight into Canadians’ health status, especially in the area of chronic disease prevention, by:

  • finding new ways to gather health information;
  • accessing and analyzing new, emerging data sources to complement existing health data; and
  • sharing ready-to-use methodologies with public health surveillance partners.

The first challenge, the Healthy Behaviour Data Challenge, will run from April 27, 2017, to January 15, 2018, and will focus on new ways to measure indicators of physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and sleep.

The second challenge will be launched in 2018 and will focus on ways to obtain better data on maternal, infant and child health.

The final challenge will be launched in 2019 and will address adult chronic disease (such as type 2 diabetes).

The Healthy Behaviour Data Challenge
In this challenge, participants will be presented with a series of questions to guide the creative process. Innovators will submit potential solutions, which will be assessed by a panel of judges who are content experts and high-profile leaders in public health surveillance.

Up to nine finalists will be awarded $10,000 each to help further develop their ideas.

Up to three grand prizes of $25,000 will be awarded to bring the winner’s ideas to fruition as useable data collection methods.

MaRS Discovery District (MaRS)
MaRS Discovery District is a not-for-profit innovation hub dedicated to driving economic and social prosperity by harnessing the full potential of innovation. MaRS works with entrepreneurs and investors to launch and grow companies that have broad economic and societal impact, and convenes governments and industry stakeholders to enable widespread adoption in complex markets and systems. For more information, please visit

Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is Canada’s federal funding agency for health research. CIHR collaborates with partners and researchers to support the discoveries and innovations that improve our health and strengthen our health care system. CIHR will participate as a knowledge broker on all challenges and will bring in health research expertise at select phases of the project, including design, judging and promotion. CIHR will also contribute to funding the prizes for finalists and winners.

United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United States Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is one of the major operating components of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS). The CDC serves as the national focus for developing and applying disease prevention and control, environmental health, and health promotion and health education activities designed to improve the health of the people of the United States. The USDHHS’s mission is to enhance and protect the health and well-being of all Americans by providing effective health and human services and fostering advances in medicine, public health, and social service.

The CDC and USDHHS will be involved in designing and encouraging participation in the first data challenge.

For more information, please visit the Healthy Behaviour Data Challenge website.

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