Insect Collections Digitization Competition

The Beyond the Box Digitization Competition will award $1 million to the person or team who creates a technology that increases the speed and accuracy of digitization of a drawer of insect specimens and their associated data.

The competition has closed. See the update below for more information.


The Challenge

The Beyond the Box Digitization Challenge has been designed to stimulate individuals or teams to solve a problem that is hindering scientific research and innovation - the inability to quickly and accurately digitize specimens and associated data in a standard tray of insects in a natural history museum. Solving this problem will help advance research as well as contribute to improved public health, environmental management, and agriculture by providing scientists, farmers, health care providers, and citizen scientists with access to our nation's insect collections. Moreover, the solution to this problem will almost certainly find additional applications in scientific and commercial settings.

The winning entry will receive up to $1 million for the development of a hardware and software system that automates digitization of pinned insect specimens, without damaging the specimens--one of the most challenging biocollections digitization tasks.

Information about entering the contest is available in the Enter the Competition section of this website.

The competition is a joint project of the U.S. National Science Foundation and the American Institute of Biological Sciences.

Beyond the Bug Box Digitization Competition Update

The contest submission deadline has closed. Unfortunately, no submissions meeting the contest specifications were received. Thus, no award will be made.

If you participated in a team or in some other way considered a submission, the contest organizers would be interested to learn from you where you encountered the greatest obstacles or barriers to developing a solution for this challenge. Please share your experiences and thoughts with us at



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