The OPCW Artificial Intelligence Research Challenge

How can artificial intelligence help free the world of chemical weapons?

The OPCW and its Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) have been closely monitoring recent developments in artificial intelligence (AI) and considering both the risks they may pose and the opportunities they may offer.

AI is a transformative technology with applications across various disciplines relevant to the Chemical Weapons Convention, including robotics, cloud laboratories, drones, and biotechnology. AI streamlines processes, optimises resource allocation, and drives innovation. In chemistry and related fields, it is accelerating progress by making processes cheaper, faster, and more effective. It is also enhancing safety in the chemical industry, identifying greener alternatives to hazardous industrial chemicals, and promoting chemical recycling and reuse to minimise waste.

The SAB recognises that AI could offer many benefits to the OPCW’s work, helping to achieve its mission of a world free of chemical weapons. The Board encourages scientists from all OPCW Member States to take part in this exciting and innovative research challenge and submit their proposals for consideration.

The Challenge

The objective of the AI Challenge is to identify how AI can be used to strengthen the OPCW’s capabilities and increase its readiness to address current and future challenges.

The OPCW is seeking proposals from researchers and scientists across its Member States that describe tangible approaches for using AI to enhance the OPCW’s effectiveness, efficiency, and preparedness. The proposed AI solutions should build capabilities specifically relating to implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Example capabilities

Document analysis

Document analysis to identify emerging threats or trends

Data mining in chemical forensics

Data mining in chemical forensics


Medical countermeasure design

Open-source document

Open-source data analysis to corroborate reports of chemical weapons use

It is expected that the proposed AI solutions will help strengthen OPCW’s approach to verification, develop advanced tools for OPCW missions, and fill critical knowledge gaps.

Proposal requirements

Entering the challenge requires only a written proposal. This proposal should identify the specific aspect of the OPCW’s work that will be addressed and provide enough detail to indicate how the AI solution will be developed and the benefit it will offer. Benefits may include the ability to make accurate predictions, classify data correctly, optimise a process, or provide valuable insights, among others.

Proposed AI solutions should relate to implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Proposals related to enhancing governance or business processes at the OPCW will not be considered under this call.

Constraints or limitations, such as limited datasets, computational resources, or compatibility requirements, should be included, as well as how the proposed approach will mitigate or overcome these issues.

What is expected in the proposal document:

  • List of key personnel, institutions, and contact information
  • Objectives and expected outcomes
  • Project scope outlining the aspect of the OPCW’s work to be addressed, the functionalities of the AI system, and the tasks it will perform
  • Main body of proposal to include methodology, approach, risks and mitigations, and implementation plan
  • Relevant references
  • Brief description of relevant expertise of proposal team and CVs of key personnel 
  • A justification and associated milestones should an advance or staged payment be required

The following should be considered while developing a proposal:

  • Any relevant legal or ethical aspects to the research or model/solution proposed.
  • The level of training and other resources to sustain use, should the proposed model/solution be ultimately adopted for use by the OPCW.
  • The metrics or methodologies needed to evaluate the performance and effectiveness of the model/solution, both in terms of development as well as use and sustainment in the future.
  • The level of sustainability and scalability of the model/solution proposed and how it could be maintained, updated, adapted, etc.

Submissions from collaborating scientists and research groups are encouraged. Contracts may only be awarded to a single institution, where the money can be used by an individual principal investigator or collectively by collaborating scientists within that institution. If the latter is the desired outcome, this should be made clear in the submission.

Proposals that are intended to be collaborative with multiple institutions represented are also possible and encouraged. For this situation, each institution should draft separate proposals specific to the work to be done at each institution. The proposals should be submitted together as a package, with a lead institution identified for the collaborating groups. The submission should indicate the corresponding author and the institution to which the contract would be awarded. The lead institution will receive the award, should the collective proposal be selected by the Technical Evaluation Team.

Evaluation process

All submissions will be evaluated by the AI Challenge Technical Evaluation Team, consisting of members of the SAB and qualified Technical Secretariat staff. The following criteria will be considered:

  • the proposed research meets the objectives of the AI Challenge;
  • the project has sufficient scientific merit;
  • it is plausible the proposed idea may be realistically usable in the future;
  • the existing resources, infrastructures and expertise, as declared, are adequate for implementation of the project;
  • risks and appropriate mitigation measures have been considered; and
  • the resources and related funding requested are justified and commensurate with the planned tasks and expenditures.

Contract award

Four proposals will be awarded a fixed-price contract of up to €65,000 with a duration of one year. Whilst contract payment is usually made upon receipt of all deliverables, an advance payment or staged payments (with associated milestones) may be possible and will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Contracted proposal teams will be required to submit an interim report within six months of contract award. A final report and presentation (or demonstration) will be required after project activities conclude.

How to enter

The deadline for proposal submission is 16:00 CET on 9 August 2024. The full statement of work and detailed proposal requirements may be requested from OPCW Procurement. All proposals must be submitted through OPCW Procurement.

Late submissions and proposals that do not meet the requirements outlined in the submission instructions and the statement of work will not be considered.


For more information, contact OPCW Procurement.

Do not contact anyone else in the Technical Secretariat about the Challenge as this may disqualify your proposal.