This challenge is no longer accepting new submissions.
$100,000 for a Start a SUD Startup Challenge, 2020 Spring Edition
Test the premise of research ideas that can be fostered into biotech startups
Department of Health and Human Services - National Institutes of Health
Type of Challenge: Ideas
Submission Start: 01/21/2020 9 a.m. ET
Submission End: 05/26/2020 5 p.m. ET
Update: NIDA understands that the emergency declaration related to novel coronavirus (COVID-19) will adversely affect many Challenge applicants' ability to submit applications in a timely manner.
Therefore, Challenge applications will be accepted through May 26, 2020. New dates for the judging period and winners announcement are also reflected under "Dates" in this section.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), one of the components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), announces the 5th “$100,000 for Start a SUD Startup” Challenge. The Challenge goal is to support research ideas that would further an understanding of Substance Use Disorders (SUD) and that are intended to be the foundation for the development of successful new startups. NIDA expects that the contest will enable participants to test the premise that their research idea can be fostered into a biotech startup, and that eventually the newly created startups will contribute to the pool of innovative small business companies that can successfully compete for NIDA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) funding.
The Challenge will offer up to ten awards of $10,000 each and technical expertise and mentoring from NIDA scientific research entrepreneurship experts. The Challenge total purse is up to $100,000.
Subject of the Challenge
NIDA is reissuing this Challenge after confirming its dependable success and popularity within the community from 2016 to 2019. The Challenge is a competition for participants with research ideas that would further an understanding of SUD and that are intended to be the foundation for the development of new successful startups. NIDA offers $100,000 together with the technical expertise and mentoring from scientific research entrepreneurship experts and expects that the contest will enable participants to test the premise that their research idea can be fostered into a biotech startup. This Challenge is unique because NIDA intends to provide the prize money and scientific research-based entrepreneurial assistance to the “would be” startup founders much earlier than most investors, incubators, or traditional models of research funding (e.g. small business grants). However, NIDA anticipates that, eventually, the newly created startups will contribute to the pool of innovative small business companies that can successfully compete for NIDA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) funding.
What does it take to participate in the Challenge? The participants must have a research idea directly related to SUD or that could be extended or adjusted to be useful for SUD. For a platform technology, the research idea must be broad enough to address multiple conditions, diseases, or indications, including SUD. For example, if the idea can only work for cancer or diabetes, entering this Challenge is not appropriate. However, if the plan is to test an idea for a research tool that would further an understanding of neurobiology or epigenetics relevant to SUD to advance the field faster and with greater fidelity, entering this Challenge is appropriate. The participants must also be interested in creating the startup around their research idea. The research “idea” is the product that the future startup will offer. Here, the term startup “product” is used in its broadest definition. Product is any source of value for the people who become customers. Services, subscriptions, software as a service (SaaS), physical/tangible products (biomedical devices, drugs, etc.), aggregations, etc. could all provide value and thus be considered startup products. The startup product could be the result of novel scientific discoveries, repurposing an existing technology for a new use, extending a research observation or discovery made in a different scientific area into SUD, devising a new business model or distribution/delivery channel that unlocks new value, or simply bringing a product or service to an underserved customer.
The potential startup founder must also have the passion, drive, discipline, ability to work collaboratively and willingness to push forward under conditions of extreme business uncertainty.
The winners of this Challenge are encouraged and offered training to use the prize money to develop a minimum viable product (MVP), to obtain customer feedback to discover if the MVP meets the customer needs, and to assess the feasibility of science-based small business creation, within 6 months post-award. Post Challenge, as with all other NIH grant applicants, NIDA staff will provide dedicated assistance and guidance about the grant submission process, including how to submit an SBIR/STTR application to NIDA’s small business programs.
- The Challenge begins January 2, 2020.
- Submission Period: 9 a.m. ET, January 21, 2020 to May 26, 2020, 5:00 p.m. ET.
- Judging Period: May 27, 2020 to June 15, 2020.
- Winners Announced: June 22, 2020.
For further information, contact:
Elena Koustova, PhD, MBA, Director, Office of Translational Initiatives and Program Innovations (OTIPI), NIDA Challenge Manager, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 6001 Executive Blvd Room 4206, MSC 9555 Bethesda, MD 20892-9555. Phone: (301) 496-8768, Email: email@example.com
The Institute’s Statutory Authority to Conduct the Challenge. NIDA is conducting this Challenge under the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science (COMPETES) Reauthorization Act of 2010, 15 U.S.C. 3719. The general purpose of NIDA is to conduct and support biomedical and behavioral research, health-services research, research training, and health-information dissemination with respect to the prevention of drug abuse and the treatment of drug abusers. This Challenge is consistent with and advances the mission of NIDA as described in 42 U.S.C. 285o in that it supports new and potential biotech start-ups in the development of research ideas that would further an understanding and management of SUD.
Amount of the Prize; Award Approving Official. The Challenge will offer up to ten awards of $10,000 each and provide technical expertise and mentoring from NIDA scientific research-based entrepreneurship experts for MVP development. The total prize award pool is up to $100,000. The names of the winners and the titles of their submissions will be posted on the NIDA web site. The award approving official for this Challenge is the Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Payment of the Prize. Prizes awarded under this Challenge will be paid by electronic funds transfer and may be subject to Federal income taxes. The NIH/NIDA will comply with the Internal Revenue Service withholding and reporting requirements, where applicable. In case of team submission, the prize will be paid to the team leader.
The Challenge is open to any participant(s) 18 years of age or older. No prior startup experience is necessary. A participant may be (i) an entity or (ii) an individual or group of individuals (i.e., a team assembled with the purpose of participating in this Challenge).
- To be eligible to win a prize under this Challenge, a Participant (whether an entity, individual, or group of individuals):
- Shall have registered to participate in the Challenge under the rules promulgated by NIDA as published in this announcement;
- Shall have complied with all the requirements set forth in this announcement;
- In the case of a private entity, shall be incorporated in and maintain a primary place of business in the United States, and in the case of an individual, whether participating singly or in a group, shall be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States. However, non-U.S. citizens and non-permanent residents can participate as a member of a team that otherwise satisfies the eligibility criteria. Non-U.S. citizens and non-permanent residents are not eligible to win a monetary prize (in whole or in part). Their participation as part of a winning team, if applicable, may be otherwise recognized when the results are announced.
- May not be a Federal entity or federal employee acting within the scope of their employment;
- May not be an employee of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) (or any other component of HHS) acting in their personal capacity;
- Who is employed by a Federal agency or entity other than HHS (or any component of HHS), should consult with an agency Ethics Official to determine whether the Federal ethics rules will limit or prohibit the acceptance of a prize under this Challenge;
- May not be a judge of the Challenge, or any other party involved with the design, production, execution, or distribution of the Challenge or the immediate family of such a party (i.e., spouse, parent, step-parent, child, or step-child).
- Must have an intention to form a United States-based startup or be a United States-based new startup (i.e. in the early stage of formation and growth).
- Federal grantees may not use Federal funds from a grant award to develop their Challenge submissions or to fund efforts in support of their Challenge submissions.
- Federal contractors may not use Federal funds from a contract to develop their Challenge submissions or to fund efforts in support of their Challenge submissions.
- By participating in this Challenge, each Participant (whether an entity, individual, or group of individuals) warrants that he or she, or it is the sole author or owner of, or has the right to use, any copyrightable works that the challenge submission comprises, that the works are wholly original with the Participant (or is an improved version of an existing work that the Participant has sufficient rights to use and improve), and that the challenge submission does not infringe any copyright or any other rights of any third party of which the Participant is aware.
- By participating in this Challenge, each Participant (whether an entity, individual, or group of individuals) agrees to assume any and all risks and waive claims against the Federal government and its related entities, except in the case of willful misconduct, for any injury, death, damage, or loss of property, revenue, or profits, whether direct, indirect, or consequential, arising from participation in this Challenge, whether the injury, death, damage, or loss arises through negligence or otherwise.
- Based on the subject matter of the Challenge, the type of work that it will possibly require, as well as an analysis of the likelihood of any claims for death, bodily injury, property damage, or loss potentially resulting from Challenge participation, no Participant (whether an entity, individual, or group of individuals) participating in the Challenge is required to obtain liability insurance or demonstrate financial responsibility in order to participate in this Challenge.
- By participating in this Challenge, each Participant (whether an entity, individual, or group of individuals) agrees to indemnify the Federal government against third party claims for damages arising from or related to Challenge activities.
- A Participant (whether an entity, individual, or group of individuals) shall not be deemed ineligible because the Participant used Federal facilities or consulted with Federal employees during the Challenge if the facilities and employees are made available to all Participants participating in the Challenge on an equitable basis.
- By participating in this Challenge, each Participant (whether an entity, individual, or group of individuals) retains title and full ownership in and to their submission and each Participant expressly reserves all intellectual property rights (e.g., copyright) in their submission. The winners agree that their names and the titles of their submissions will be publicly posted on the NIDA web site.
- NIDA reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to (a) cancel, suspend, or modify the Challenge, and/or (b) not award any prizes if no entries are deemed worthy.
- Each Participant (whether an entity, individual, or group of individuals) agrees to follow all applicable Local, State, and Federal laws, regulations, and policies.
- Each Participant (whether an entity, individual, or group of individuals) participating in this Challenge must comply with all terms and conditions of these rules, and participation in this Challenge constitutes each such Participant’s full and unconditional agreement to abide by these rules. Winning is contingent upon fulfilling all requirements herein.
Basis upon Which the Winner Will Be Selected. The judging panel will make recommendations to the award approving official based upon the following 5 criteria. Each criterion will be scored with the maximum of 10 points.
- Significance and Unmet Needs (0-10 points). Are there significant needs for the proposed product or service? Does the project address an important problem or a critical barrier to progress in the field of SUD/drug abuse research? If the aims of the project are achieved, how will scientific knowledge, technical capability, service or clinical practice be improved? How those improvements will be measured or established? Is there an evidence of market research?
- Innovation (0-10 points). Does the proposed idea utilize the novel theoretical concepts, approaches, methodologies, instrumentation, service or interventions for SUD/drug abuse research? Is proposed product novel in a broad sense? Is a refinement, improvement or new application of theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies instrumentation or interventions proposed?
- Approach (0-10 points). Are the overall strategy, methodology, and analyses well-reasoned and appropriate to test the proposed idea? Does the approach take the feedback from the end-users or end-user need assessment into account?
- Team/Founder Aptitudes (0-10 points). Does the individual or team demonstrate high level of ability and dedication? Were the passion, drive, discipline, ability to work collaboratively and willingness to push forward under conditions of extreme business uncertainty successfully demonstrated?
- Commercialization (0-10 points). Is there a clear path for the product/service to reach the market? Are the product users and purchasers clearly identified? Is there an evidence of market research or analysis of competitors?
Submissions that are responsive and comply with the entry requirements will be reviewed by a panel of judges consisting of Federal employees. The responsive and compliant submission entries will be scored in accordance with the judging criteria outlined above. Scores from each criterion will be weighted equally, but failure to meet a minimum standard for any one criterion might disqualify a submission. The score for each submission will be the sum of the scores from each of the voting judges. The scores will be listed in order, from highest to lowest. Participants with sufficiently high scores will then be contacted for “live” meetings via the tele- or video-conference. Those meetings will be used to gather more details about the information provided in the Submission Package and to determine the up-to-date level of participant availability, interest and commitment. Final prize recommendations will be determined based on the judges’ scoring and tele- or video-conference meetings.
How To Enter
Eeach team is required to identify a team leader who registers and submits a solution on behalf of the team. All submission materials must be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org by the specified submission deadline date and time.
Each submission for this Challenge requires a complete Submission Package. The Submission Package includes a 4-page written proposal describing the idea and 5-min video introducing the individual participant or the team (see requirements below). Both the 4-page written proposal and the 5-min video will be evaluated.
- Proposal. The proposal must consist of a PDF file with at least 1-inch margins and no more than four (4) pages long. Font size must be no smaller than 11-point Arial. All submissions must be in English. The participants must not use HHS’s logo or official seal or the logo of NIH or NIDA in the submissions and must not claim federal government endorsement. In the proposal:
- Describe how your research idea would further an understanding of SUD and be the foundation for a successful startup. (1 page)
- Convince the Challenge reviewers of your technical competence as a researcher. Be brief, selective and persuasive. Do not use the NIH Bibliographic Sketch format. (0.5 page)
- Describe, in as many details as possible, what the prototype of your product would look like. Then, walk the Challenge reviewers through the typical use of the product, using simple terms and instructions. (1.5 pages)
- Explain the methods you will use (how, when, where, whom) to determine whether the product is needed by the target audience and whether that audience would be willing to pay for the product. (1 page)
- Video. A brief 5-min video must be posted to YouTube© and the link to video provided. If the Challenge submission is from the team of participants, the entire team must participate in the submitted video. In the YouTube© video:
- In one minute or less, tell NIDA something that can illustrate the drive or the desire of each team member to become a startup founder.
- Tell NIDA something about each team member that shows a high level of scientific and entrepreneurial ability.
- Tell NIDA something about each team member that shows a high level of perseverance and grit.
- Tell NIDA about a time when your great idea was rejected. What was your response?