Finalists Selected for the World’s Leading Operations Research and Analytics Award: 2022 INFORMS Franz Edelman Award Competition Elevates Research that is Saving Lives, Saving Money, and Solving Problems

Premier Decision and Data Sciences Competition Showcases Significant Economic and Societal Impacts around the Globe

Finalist contributions include innovations in omnichannel e-business efficiency, data collection optimization, pandemic response strategies, vehicle packaging and pricing, vaccine development and biomanufacturing effectiveness.

BALTIMORE, MD, January 18, 2022 – INFORMS, the largest association for the decision and data sciences, has selected six finalists for the annual Franz Edelman Award for Achievement in Advanced Analytics, Operations Research and Management Science, the world’s most prestigious award for achievement in the practice of analytics and operations research (O.R.). 

For more than four decades, winners of the Edelman Award have been credited with transforming how we approach some of the world’s most complex problems. This year’s finalists show revolutionary contributions in omnichannel e-business efficiency, data collection optimization, pandemic response strategies, vehicle packaging and pricing, vaccine development and biomanufacturing effectiveness – proving the impact of their work can save lives, save money and solve problems. Finalists for the Edelman Award have contributed to a cumulative impact of more than $336 billion since the award’s inception and countless other nonmonetary benefits.

The finalists for the 2022 Edelman Award include:

Alibaba. Alibaba, which aims to build the future infrastructure of commerce, has designed many multiplatform retail business models. These range from mobile apps to social networking to brick-and-mortars and more. Alibaba’s merchandise covers general supplies to fresh produce. Each of these different channels and their products bring unique features regarding demand forecast, inventory management and recommendation systems. These challenges are being solved through a series of algorithms to align supply with demand. These algorithms have generated hundreds of millions of dollars of savings in shrinkage and inventory reductions and sustained revenue increase for Alibaba.

U.S. Census Bureau. The U.S. Census Bureau conducts the Decennial Census every 10 years as mandated in the U.S. Constitution. Prior to the 2020 Census, this was done with manual assignments. In 2020, optimization and machine learning techniques automated the scheduling, workload assignments and management of field data collection. MOJO, an operational control system based on these techniques, provided optimization of caseloads handled by enumerators through a geographic information system. The 2020 Census resolved 99.9% of all addresses in the nation and MOJO, via assignment optimization, provided a productivity increase of over 80%. The system was developed in collaboration with Princeton Consultants as well as others in the private sector and academia. 

Chile. During the COVID-19 crisis, the Chilean Ministries of Health and Sciences partnered with the Instituto Sistemas Complejos de Ingeniería (ISCI) and telecom company Entel to develop innovative methodologies and tools that placed O.R. and analytics at the forefront of the battle against the pandemic. These innovations have been used in key decisions aspects that helped shape the strategy against the virus, including tools that shed light on the actual effects of lockdowns in different municipalities and over time; helped allocate limited intensive care capacity; allowed multiplying the testing capacity; provided on-the-ground strategies for active search of asymptomatic cases based on anonymized mobility data; and implemented a nationwide serology surveillance program that greatly influenced Chile’s decision regarding booster doses and provided information to the world.

General Motors. General Motors (GM) is on a journey toward helping to create a world with zero emissions, zero crashes and zero congestion. Decisions on new product content, packaging and pricing are central to this goal and the GM customer experience. Vehicle Content Optimization (VCO) helps GM make these decisions while offering a full-line portfolio of vehicles that meet the vast diversity of customer needs and preferences. Developed entirely within GM, VCO combines advanced consumer market research, discrete choice models and novel optimization algorithms into a user-friendly, fully productionized system. Since being fully integrated into GM’s Global Vehicle Development Process, VCO has been used on more than 85 new vehicle programs globally, enabling over $2 billion of profit in 2019 and 2020 alone.

Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson (Janssen). To accelerate the development of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, the R&D Data Science team at Janssen worked with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to co-develop and refine a machine learning-based COVID-19 epidemiological disease spread model, building on MIT’s DELPHI scenario analysis tool, capable of predicting future COVID-19 infection spread months in advance at a global level. This model enabled Johnson & Johnson to place its Phase 3 clinical trial sites in high-incidence areas with 90% accuracy. This resulted in Johnson & Johnson concluding a highly-diverse trial approximately six weeks ahead of its original timeline with extensive data on variants, paving the way for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Emergency Use Authorization of the first single-dose COVID-19 vaccine.

Merck Animal Health. Merck Animal Health offers veterinarians, farmers, pet owners and governments one of the widest ranges of veterinary pharmaceuticals, vaccines and health management solutions. After four years of collaboration where vision met opportunity, a portfolio of optimization and decision support applications were implemented that substantially improved biomanufacturing effectiveness. Biomanufacturing uses living organisms (i.e., viruses and bacteria) to grow active ingredients in vaccines and therapeuticals. This high-tech manufacturing process generates challenges not found in many other industries. Additionally, the high cost of equipment and labor-intensive nature of operations precluded the ability to just add capacity. Operations research was critical to meet these challenges. The initial implementation had a 30%-50% increase in the output of critical medicines in specific areas.


About the Franz Edelman Award

First awarded in 1972, the prize is named in honor of Franz Edelman, who founded the Operations Research division within RCA, one of the first corporations to embed operations research as a business imperative. Previous winners of the Franz Edelman Award include U.N. World Food Programme (2021 winner), Intel (2020 winner) and Louisville Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) (2019 winner), as well as Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Holiday Retirement, UPS, IBM, Syngenta, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Hewlett-Packard and General Motors, among others. The 2022 Edelman Award will be presented at the INFORMS Conference on Business Analytics and Operations Research in Houston, Texas, on April 3-5. For more information on the Franz Edelman Award, visit



INFORMS advances and promotes the science and technology of decision-making to save lives, save money and solve problems. As the largest association for the decision and data sciences, INFORMS members support organizations and governments at all levels as they work to transform data into information, and information into insights that lead to more efficient, effective, equitable and impactful results. INFORMS’ 10,000+ members are comprised of a diverse and robust international community of practitioners, researchers, educators and students from a variety of fields. 





Ashley Smith


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Finalists Selected for the World’s Leading Operations Research and Analytics Award: 2022 INFORMS Franz Edelman Award Competition Elevates Research...

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