SOURCE: X PRIZE Foundation

X PRIZE Foundation

X PRIZE Foundation

November 17, 2009 08:00 ET

The X PRIZE Foundation Announces First Asia-Based Contender for Genome Sequencing Prize

Taiwanese Team, cracker, to Compete for the $10 Million Archon X PRIZE for Genomics

PLAYA VISTA, CA--(Marketwire - November 17, 2009) - The X PRIZE Foundation announced today that cracker, a group based in Taiwan, is the newest team accepted to compete for the $10 million Archon X PRIZE for Genomics. This new competitor makes the quest for rapid and cost-effective whole human genome sequencing a truly global competition with teams representing three continents. To win the largest medical prize in history, teams must successfully sequence 100 human genomes within 10 days for less than $10,000 per genome. This accomplishment is a necessary step to create a new era of personalized, predictive and preventive medicine, eventually transforming medical care from reactive to proactive.

As the eighth team to enter the competition, cracker is currently based in Hsinchu, at the heart of the Taiwanese "Silicon Valley." The young team is comprised of opto-electronics engineers, organic chemists and molecular biologists who are developing a novel composite chip to eye very closely fluorescent single molecules, and protocols to generate long sequencing reads at high accuracy. Launched in 2007, cracker received initial funding from the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) and is actively engaged in spinning off its technology and people, as well as forming strategic partnerships to further strengthen its endeavors.

"Though we may have entered the contest later than other teams, this competition is not about when one joins, it is about entrepreneurial spirit driving innovators to devise technological leaps that will benefit the whole humankind," said cracker team leader, Dr. Chung-Fan Chiou. "We are confident that our breakthrough and versatile design will revolutionize single-molecule analysis and truly democratize personal genomics."

"The entry of the cracker team makes this a truly international competition," said Larry Kedes, Senior Advisor to the Archon X PRIZE. "The fact that this team has been assembled from the interdisciplinary expertise so common at ITRI with its heritage of spinning off breakthrough technology companies bodes well for the eventual success of cracker's approach."


Initiated in 2007 with support from the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), team cracker is based in Hsinchu, the heart of the Taiwanese "Silicon Valley." Under the direction of Dr. Chung-Fan Chiou, an engineer, innovator and business developer, team cracker blends the expertise of young, highly talented and innovative opto-electronics engineers, organic chemists and molecular biologists. The team is developing a new ultra-high speed, low cost and portable method to sequence long base-pair reads with high accuracy. It is based on the sequential conversion of photons to electrons and to DNA sequence, on a single composite chip. The versatility of the underlying design is expected to revolutionize studies of biomolecules at the single-molecule level. For more information, please visit


The X PRIZE Foundation is an educational nonprofit prize institute whose mission is to create radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. In 2004, the Foundation captured world headlines when Burt Rutan, backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, built and flew the world's first private vehicle to space to win the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE. The Foundation has since launched the $10 million Archon X PRIZE for Genomics, the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE, and the $10 million Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE. The Foundation is creating and conducting competitions in four prize groups: Exploration (Space and Oceans), Life Sciences, Energy & Environment, Education & Global Development. The Foundation is widely recognized as the leader in fostering innovation through competition. For more information, please visit For more information on the Archon X PRIZE for Genomics, please visit

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