Skip navigation

FAQ for prospective participants

Background on the Life Sciences Supermind 
The Life Sciences Supermind platform is powered by software developed over the past decade by the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence under the leadership of Professor Thomas W. Malone. Malone has spent much of the past decade leading research projects that involve people (or people and machines) working together on climate change and other complex social challenges.

How do I sign up? What is the process for participating?
The Life Sciences Supermind is an invitation-only online crowdsourcing exercise, combined with live virtual conversations, that seeks to gain insights into how the life sciences sector can best address the challenges it faces in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Participation is easy! Before the exercise begins, you’ll receive an invitation email with a personalized link to the platform. Click on that link and you’ll be logged in on that device for the duration of the exercise. All asynchronous idea exchange will happen on the online platform; synchronous events will use a separate video conferencing tool. Every few days, you’ll receive an email from the Life Sciences Supermind team with instructions for how to participate.

What are the challenge areas?
The main challenge question is:
How do we identify and apply the learnings from the COVID-19 pandemic to reimagine the institutions, processes, policies and tools we use across the Life Sciences to address global health needs for all? Specific categories where participants will be invited to contribute their ideas are: 

  • Future of scientific research and development
  • Flexible and resilient manufacturing, supply, and distribution chains
  • Disruptive technologies and methodologies 
  • Public health preparedness, science and technologies
  • Science communication

What is the schedule and my time commitment for participating in the Activation?
The exercise runs for four weeks, from April 26 through May 23, 2021. We hope that participants will be able to spend 1-2 hours per week submitting ideas on the platform and reading the contributions of others. But participants are welcome to spend as much or as little time as their schedules allow. Research in collective intelligence has shown that sometimes a single contribution, by a person who brings distinctive knowledge or a unique perspective, can be of very great value in an activity like this one. 

What happens after the exercise?
At the conclusion of the Life Sciences Supermind, input from participants will be synthesized in a report of findings. A similar supermind activation was undertaken in 2020. For the results from that exercise, see Pandemic Response Supermind Report.  


Who is behind the Pandemic Supermind Activation? 

The life science business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany operates as MilliporeSigma in the U.S. and Canada. MilliporeSigma is a leader in the life science industry, with a portfolio of more than 300,000 products, focused on scientific discovery, biomanufacturing and testing services. MilliporeSigma currently supports numerous customers working on COVID-19-related projects through its products and services for more than 25 testing solutions, including eight of the top ten IVD market leaders, and more than 45 different potential vaccines. MilliporeSigma’s parent company, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, is a leading science and technology company, operating across healthcare, life science and performance materials. Around 57,000 employees work to make a positive difference to millions of people’s lives every day by creating more joyful and sustainable ways to live. From advancing gene-editing technologies and discovering unique ways to treat the most challenging diseases to enabling the intelligence of devices—the company is everywhere. In 2019, the businesses of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany generated sales of €16.2 billion in 66 countries. The company holds the global rights to the name and trademark “Merck” internationally. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the business sectors of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany operate as EMD Serono in healthcare, MilliporeSigma in life science, and EMD Performance Materials. Since its founding in 1668, scientific exploration and responsible entrepreneurship have been key to the company’s technological and scientific advances. To this day, the founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed company.  

The MIT Center for Collective Intelligence (CCI) brings together faculty from across MIT to conduct research on how people and computers can work together more intelligently. CCI’s CoLab platforms, including Climate CoLab and Futures CoLab, engage large groups of people online to address complex problems of significance to the world. Inspired by Professor Thomas W. Malone's book, Superminds: The Surprising Power of People and Computers Thinking Together, MIT’s Collective Intelligence Design Lab (CIDL) helps groups design innovative new kinds of collectively intelligent systems—superminds—to solve important problems.

The MIT Community Biotechnology Initiative (CBI) of the MIT Media Lab develops tools and technologies to enable the broadest possible participation in biotechnology. Projects include the creation of low-cost enabling hardware, high-throughput microfluidics, infrastructure for sharing, and new interfaces for artistic expression with biology. CBI is supported by the National Science Foundation, MIT J-Wel, and Takeda.