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The 2017 “$100,000 for Start a SUD Startup” Challenge

About the Challenge
Can your research idea can be fostered into a biotech startup

Posted By: National Institutes of Health
Category: Ideas
Submission Dates: 8 a.m. ET, Jun 09, 2017 - 5 p.m. ET, Dec 08, 2017 Judging Dates: Dec 11, 2017 - Jan 19, 2018 Winners Announced: Jan 24, 2018

Are you a biomedical scientist who believes that he/she has a research idea for a biotech start-up? This challenge is unique because the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) intends to fund the “would be” startup Founders much earlier than most investors, incubators, or traditional models of research funding (e.g. small business grants).

NIDA, one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), announces the “2017: $100,000 for Start a SUD Startup” Challenge. The Challenge goal is to support research ideas that would further an understanding of neurobiology as it relates to Substance Use Disorders (SUD) and that are intended to be the basis for the development of a new and potentially successful start-up. NIDA hopes that participation in the contest will enable scientists to test the hypothesis that their research idea can be fostered into a biotech startup, and that eventually any 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 provide mentorship support from NIDA entrepreneurship experts. The Challenge total purse is up to $100,000.

CHALLENGE DESCRIPTION

NIDA is excited to build upon the success of the 2016 Challenge “$100,000 for Start a SUD Startup” and is reissuing it in 2017. The challenge is a competition for biomedical scientists with the goal to support research ideas that would further an understanding of neurobiology as it relates to SUD and that are intended to be the basis for the development of a new and potentially successful start-up. NIDA hopes that participation in the contest will enable scientists to test whether their research ideas can be fostered into a biotech startup. The 2017 “$100,000 for Start a SUD Startup” Challenge will offer up to ten awards of $10,000 each and provide mentorship support from NIDA entrepreneurship experts.

What does it take to participate in the challenge? The team or an individual must have a research idea that could further the understanding of SUD and is intended to be the basis of the development of a new and potentially successful startup. The research “idea” is the product that your 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, 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 Founder (the teams or an individual) must demonstrate through the Submission 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 to use the prize funds to develop a minimum viable proof (MVP) as quickly as possible and to obtain customer feedback to discover if MVP meets the customer needs. If the product prototype is successfully validated, winners are encouraged to create or further advance their biotech startup no later than 6 months after the prize is awarded. 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 research idea must be broad enough to address multiple conditions, diseases, or indications consistent with SUD or be specific for prevention and treatments of SUD. For example, if your 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 progress faster and with greater fidelity, entering this challenge is appropriate.

Judging Criteria

1. Significance and Unmet Needs - 20%

Are there significant needs for your product or service? Does the project address an important problem or a critical barrier to progress in the field of drug abuse research? If the aims of the project are achieved, how will scientific knowledge, technical capability, service or clinical practice be improved?

2. Innovation - 20%

Does the submission seek to shift current paradigms by utilizing novel theoretical concepts, approaches, methodologies, instrumentation, service or interventions for drug abuse research? Is your product novel in a broad sense? Is a refinement, improvement or new application of theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies instrumentation or interventions proposed?

3. Approach - 20%

Are the overall strategy, methodology, and analyses well-reasoned and appropriate to test the proposed idea? Has feedback from end users been incorporated into the validity of the idea proposed?

4. Team expertise - 20%

Does the individual or team demonstrate high level of ability, perseverance and grit?

5. Commercialization - 20%

Is there a clear path for the product/service to reach the market? Are the product users and purchasers clearly identified?

How to Enter
  1. Review the full challenge details, rules for participation and submission requirements.
  2. Create an account on Challenge.gov, or use an existing account, to submit your solution.
  3. Scientists working on the projects that are directly applicable or adaptable to benefit the SUD field, NIDA’s mission area, are especially encouraged to apply. A team can also include engineers, IT, business or other professionals in the biomedical science/health care field.

For further submission information contact
Irina Sazonova, Ph.D. irina.sazonova@nih.gov

Prizes
$100,000.00 The Challenge will offer up to ten awards of $10,000 each and provide mentorship support from NIDA entrepreneurship experts for MVP development. The total prize award pool is up to $100,000. No institutional indirect costs are allowed. Winners are encouraged to submit the minimum viable proof (MVP) report 6 months after the prize payment. 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.

Add to the Discussion

Solutions
No solutions have been posted for this challenge yet.
Rules

Submission Requirements.  Each submission for this challenge requires a complete “Submission Package.” The submission package includes a 4-page written proposal describing an idea and 5-min video introducing the team (see requirements below). Both the idea and the Founders will be evaluated.

In the proposal:

  1. Describe your research idea that would further an understanding of neurobiology as it relates to SUD and that is intended to be the basis for a successful start-up. (1 page)
  2. Convince the challenge reviewers of your technical competence as a biomedical scientist. Be brief, selective and persuasive. Do not use the NIH Bibliographic Sketch format. (0.5 page)
  3. 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)
  4. 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)

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 contestants 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.

  • A brief video (link to YouTube) must be no longer than five (5) minutes. If the Challenge submission is from the team of Founders, the entire team must participate in the submitted video. In the YouTube video:
    • Tell NIDA something, in one minute or less, that can illustrate the drive or the desire of each founder to develop a product that would further an understanding of neurobiology as it relates to SUD and that is intended to be the basis for a successful start-up.
    • Tell NIDA something about each founder that shows a high level of scientific and entrepreneurial ability.
    • Tell NIDA something about each founder that shows a high level of perseverance and grit.
    • Tell NIDA about a time when your great idea was rejected. What was your response?

Rules for Participating in the Challenge.  The Challenge is open to any Founder 18 years of age or older. No prior startup experience is necessary. A Founder 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, an individual or entity:

  1. Shall have registered to participate in the Challenge under the rules promulgated by NIDA as published in this Notice;
  2. Shall have complied with all the requirements set forth in this Notice;
  3. In the case of a private entity, shall be incorporated in and maintain a primary place of business or research activity 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.
  4. May not be a Federal entity or federal employee acting within the scope of their employment; May not be a Federal employee of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) (or any other component of HHS) acting in their personal capacity;
  5. 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;
  6. 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).
  7. Must be a United States-based potential start-up (i.e. not yet formed) or a United States-based new start-up (i.e. in the early stage of formation and development).

Additionally:

  • Federal grantees may not use Federal funds to develop 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 submission.
  • Submissions must not infringe upon any copyright or any other rights of any third party.
  • By participating in this Challenge, each Founder (whether competing singly or in a group) and each entity agrees to assume any and all risks and waive claims against the Federal government and its related entities (as defined in the COMPETES Act), 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 Founder (whether competing singly or in a group) or entity 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 Founder (whether competing singly or in a group) and each entity agrees to indemnify the Federal government against third party claims for damages arising from or related to Challenge activities.
  • A Founder or entity shall not be deemed ineligible because the Founder or entity used Federal facilities or consulted with Federal employees during the Challenge if the facilities and employees are made available to all individuals and entities participating in the Challenge on an equitable basis.
  • By participating in this Challenge, each Founder (whether participating singly or in a group) or entity 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.
  • NIDA reserves the right, in 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 Founder (whether participating singly or in a group) or entity agrees to follow all applicable Local, State, and Federal laws and regulations.
  • Each Founder (whether participating singly or in a group) and each entity participating in this Challenge must comply with all terms and conditions of these rules, and participation in this Challenge constitutes each such contestant’s full and unconditional agreement to abide by these rules. Winning is contingent upon fulfilling all requirements herein.
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