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Improved Formulation of an Oral Peptide Drug

  • Award: $25000 USD
  • Challenge type: Theoretical IP Transfer
  • Challenge under evaluation

Challenge overview


Oral administration of therapeutic peptides is hindered by poor absorption across the gastrointestinal barrier and extensive degradation by proteolytic enzymes. Due to the inherent physicochemical properties of peptides (high molecular weight, enzymatically labile, hydrophilicity, and low permeability), attempts to deliver peptides via the oral route have been broadly unsuccessful. Recently, an oral tablet form of semaglutide (a GLP-1 receptor agonist) was approved by the FDA, EMA, and PMDA for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Drug absorption in this formulation is contingent upon a dosing regimen with certain food and liquid intake requirements. The Seeker is interested in a potential new oral formulation with no or minimum dosing restrictions related to food and liquid.

This Theoretical Challenge requires only a written proposal.



Semaglutide is a prescription medication used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes in adults and for chronic weight management in adults with obesity. The treatment helps to control blood sugar and appetite/food intake by mimicking the natural hormone GLP-1 - stimulating insulin release, suppressing glucagon activity, and delaying gastric emptying. Two forms of semaglutide are available: the first is self-administered as once-weekly subcutaneous injections and the second is a tablet taken orally once per day. Having two different formulations provides people with type 2 diabetes with treatment options that suit them best, to help manage their  chronic disease. The approved tablet formulation is taken in the morning under fasting conditions with an interval of 30 minutes prior to food/liquid intake. This regimen is necessary to achieve high peptide concentrations to facilitate absorption in the stomach.

The Seeker is interested in learning about potential additional formulations that may not have the requirements associated with food and liquid intake.

This is a Theoretical Challenge that requires only a written proposal to be submitted. The Challenge award will be contingent upon theoretical evaluation of the proposal by the Seeker.

To receive an award, the Solvers will have to transfer their exclusive intellectual property (IP) rights to the Seeker. However, the Seeker will be willing to consider a licensing agreement if exclusive IP cannot be transferred by the Solver. 

Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 PM (US Eastern Time) on January 17, 2022. 

Late submissions will not be considered.



Novo Nordisk is a leading global healthcare company, founded in 1923 and headquartered in Denmark. Our purpose is to drive change to defeat diabetes and other serious chronic diseases such as obesity and rare blood and endocrine disorders. We do so by pioneering scientific breakthroughs, expanding access to our medicines, and working to prevent and ultimately cure disease. Novo Nordisk employs about 45,800 people in 80 countries and markets its products in around 170 countries. For more information, visit


What is InnoCentive?

InnoCentive is the global innovation marketplace where creative minds solve some of the world's most important problems for cash awards up to $1 million. Commercial, governmental and humanitarian organizations engage with InnoCentive to solve problems that can impact humankind in areas ranging from the environment to medical advancements.

What is an InnoCentive Theoretical IP Transfer Challenge?

An InnoCentive Theoretical Challenge builds upon an idea but is not yet a proof of concept. A solution to a Theoretical Challenge will solidify the Solver's concept with detailed descriptions, specifications and requirements necessary to bringing a good idea closer to becoming an actual product or service.

This Challenge is a Theoretical IP Transfer Challenge, meaning that Solvers must transfer all rights to the Intellectual Property (IP) for which they are awarded. Solvers that do not win retain the rights to their solution after the evaluation period is complete. The Seeker retains no rights to any IP not awarded.