Mercury Challenge 

Data Science Match

Can you build the best system to automatically forecast global news events?

Join the IARPA Mercury Challenge to innovate solutions and methods to automatically predict the occurrence of critical events in the Middle East and 

North Africa

Total Prize Purse



The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), focuses on high-risk, high-payoff research programs to tackle difficult challenges of the agencies and disciplines in the intelligence community. IARPA’s challenges invite experts from the broader research community to participate in IARPA research in a convenient, efficient, and non-contractual way.


IARPA is looking for innovative machine learning techniques that would improve the accuracy and timeliness of global forecasts. IARPA hosts these challenges to identify ways that individuals, academia, and others with a passion for forecasting can showcase their skills easily.

Can you create a method to forecast the future? 

Surprise events such as the fall of the Berlin Wall, Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, the civil unrest that gave rise to the Arab Spring, and Russian incursions into Ukraine, forced rapid responses in the absence of data related to the underlying causes of these events.

In an effort to strengthen global crisis response capabilities, The IARPA Mercury Challenge seeks innovative solutions using machine learning and artificial intelligence methods to automatically predict the occurrence of critical events involving military action, non-violent civil unrest, and infectious diseases in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, Qatar, Lebanon, Jordan, and Bahrain. 



 Technologists, data scientists, and machine learning engineers who are skilled at breaking down complex data are encouraged to join. Individuals ranging from private industry and academia are all eligible to participate and win prizes. The Mercury Challenge Team believes success in this challenge can prove to be a strong addition to any data science practitioner’s portfolio. 

Certain individuals and groups with existing agreements with IARPA may not be eligible for cash prizes but may be able to compete for standing on the leaderboard and other non-monetary incentives. Additional eligibility rules will be available closer to launch. 


This challenge gives you a chance to join a community of leading experts to advance your research, contribute to global security and humanitarian activities, and compete for cash prizes. This is your chance to test your forecasting skills and prove yourself against the state-of-the-art, and to demonstrate your superiority over political pundits. 

By participating, you may:

  • Network with collaborators and experts to advance your research
  • Gain recognition for your work and your methods
  • Test your methods and monitor how you stack up amongst competitors
  • Win prizes from a total prize purse of $100,000

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