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Genomics X Prize Fizzles Out

The Archon Genomics XPrize competition has been cancelled, according to an account from Peter Diamandis, the CEO and chairman of the XPrize Foundation, at the Huffington Post. A spokesperson confirmed to the Daily Scan that the competition is cancelled.

Diamandis writes that the "competition was not incentivizing the technological changes that our prize chair, Dr. Craig Venter, our sponsors Stewart and Marilyn Blusson, and the XPrize board had intended."

The Genomics XPrize competition was launched in 2006 as a way to spur sequencing innovation. The competition, in this incarnation, was slated to be a month-long challenge to sequence 100 genomes at high speed and accuracy, but at a cost of less than $1,000 per genome. The first team to do so would win $10 million.

"What we realized is that genome sequencing technology is plummeting in cost and increasing in speed independent of our competition," Diamandis writes at the Huffington Post. "Today, companies can do this for less than $5,000 per genome, in a few days or less — and are moving quickly towards the goals we set for the prize. For this reason, we have decided to cancel an XPrize for the first time ever."

Erika Check Hayden noted at Nature News in May that the field was rather slim. Only two teams — an Ion Torrent team and George Church's group at Harvard University's Wyss Institute — had registered by the deadline. The competition spokesperson said, however, that the decision to cancel the competition was unrelated to the turnout level.