This challenge is no longer accepting new submissions.
The US Army Medical Research and Development Command (MRDC) is announcing the xTech Brain Operant Learning Technology – xTechBOLT – prize competition to develop mechanisms to promote optimal retention and access to memories revolutionizing how we teach and train Soldiers.
Department of Defense - U.S. Army
Type of Challenge: Software and apps, Technology demonstration and hardware, Analytics, visualizations, algorithms, Scientific
Submission Start: 08/01/2020 02:00 PM ET
Submission End: 10/17/2020 02:59 AM ET
*Important Update to Key Dates: Please note that the Concept White Paper submission deadline has been extended to 16 October 2020, 11:59 PM PT and the Invitations for the Semifinal Technology Pitch will be sent on 9 November, 2020. These changes are reflected in the Key Dates table below.
The US Army Medical Research and Development Command (MRDC) is announcing the xTech Brain Operant Learning Technology – xTechBOLT – prize competition. The prize competition is designed to incentivize industry to develop and demonstrate the use of one or more tool(s) (e.g., QEEG, fMRI, MEG, BIOMRK, NIRS, PET, MEA, SPECT, or other) to locate, track, and trace four types of learning traits, including explicit and implicit knowledge, from exposure to storage, and use those neural pathways to capture emotions and empathy and research a proof of concept mechanism (software or hardware, or both) that could be developed to promote optimal retention and access to memories.
The goals for this competition are to understand the effects of emotion and empathy on learning and memory and the functional roles played by various brain regions and their mutual interactions in relation to emotional and empathetic processing and effect on both implicit and explicit learning. Understanding these effects will help build the United States Military of the future, by revolutionizing how we teach and train Warfighters, how we build better medical providers, and how we utilize novel brain operant learning technologies.
The Army (and more broadly the U.S. Department of Defense) seek “path finding” teams and technologies through this competition. Therefore, xTechBOLT is not interested in low-risk, repackaged approaches of tried and true techniques. We aim to find early-stage innovations with the potential to dramatically improve military training outcomes with novel hardware- and/or software-based technologies.
xTechBOLT is seeking applicants to use one or more tool(s) (e.g., QEEG, fMRI, MEG, BIOMRK, NIRS, PET, MEA, SPECT, or other) to:
- Locate, track, and trace four types of learning traits including explicit and implicit knowledge from exposure to storage, and use those neural pathways to capture emotions and empathy from exposure to storage;
- Research a proof of concept technology which may include software or hardware, or both that could be developed to promote optimal retention and access to memories.
The Army recognizes that it must enhance engagements with innovative problem solvers, by: (1) understanding the spectrum of technologies under development commercially that may benefit the Army; (2) integrating small business innovators into the Army’s Science and Technology (S&T) ecosystem; and (3) providing mentorship and expertise to accelerate, mature, and transition technologies of interest to the Army.
The xTechBOLT competition will provide increasing non-dilutive prizes to select applicants to proceed in the competition. All applications will be reviewed by Army subject matter experts and up to 10 applicants with the highest ranking concept white papers will receive a prize of $10,000 each and advance to give a pitch on their proposed concept to a live Army judging panel. The live judging panel will select five (5) applicants to receive additional awards of $25,000 each and be invited to present a proof-of-concept of their technology solutions at the 2021 Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) in Orlando, Florida. Out of those five (5) finalists, a grand prize winner will be selected and awarded an additional $500,000 prize. The remaining finalists will receive prizes as follows: Second place - $125,000.00, Third place – $75,000.00, Fourth place - $50,000.00, Fifth place - $25,000.00. Details on the prize structure are listed below in this announcement.
Key Dates are provided in the table below.
Total Cash Prize Pool
Prize Breakdown - see the table below.
Applicant technologies must:
- be independently verified as either: mature Basic Research, at a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 2, and ready to move into Applied Research; or can be verified at a TRL for 3 or 4;
- have an executable strategy to mature to a TRL of 6; and
- must have a transition strategy, for movement to a program Management Office (PMO).
Each eligible entity:
- Shall be incorporated in, and maintain, a primary place of business in the U.S.;
- May not be a Federal entity or employ a Federal employee acting within the scope of their employment;
- Sole proprietors may participate in xTechBOLT if the individual is a citizen or national of the U.S. or a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. and the business is registered in the U.S.; and
- Foreign companies may participate in xTechBOLT by establishing a U.S. domestic business relationship (e.g., wholly owned U.S. subsidiary) or partner with an U.S. based company.
Terms and Conditions
The efforts described in this Notice are being pursued under the authorities of 10 US Code (USC) 2374a (Prizes for Advanced Technology Achievements). While the authority of this program is Title 10, US Code (USC) Section 2374a, a concept white paper submitted to the xTechBOLT program may generate interest by another Army organization for a funding opportunity outside of this program (e.g., submission of a proposal under a Broad Agency Announcement). The interested Army organization may contact the applicant to provide additional information.
All xTechSearch submissions are treated as privileged information and contents are disclosed to Government employees or designated support contractors only for the purpose of evaluation and program support.
The Army is a strong proponent of deliberate intellectual property (IP) rights and management by the private sector and the Department of Defense. For the xTechBOLT program:
- The Federal Government may not gain an interest in IP developed by an applicant without the written consent of said applicant;
- Nothing in this xTechBOLT prize competition shall diminish the Government’s rights in patents, technical data, technical information, computer software, computer databases, and computer software documentation that the Government had prior to this xTechBOLT prize competition, or is entitled to, under any other Government Agreement or contract, or is otherwise entitled to under law; and
- The Federal Government may negotiate a license for the use of IP developed by a registered applicant in the prize competition.
Each concept white paper will be reviewed by an xTechBOLT Panel including Warfighter, acquisition, and research and development subject matter experts.
The concept White Papers will be evaluated using the detailed evaluation criteria found on the contest submission page.
How to Enter
The xTechBOLT program is voluntary and open to all entities that meet the eligibility requirements. There may be only one submission per eligible entity. The registration information and upload submission must be received by 11:59 PM PT on 16 October 2020. Submissions received after the deadline will not be considered.
Visit the contest page for registration details: https://www.xtechsearch.army.mil/
All eligible entities shall submit a concept white paper and accompanying video up to 3 minutes in length outlining their use of one or more tool(s) (e.g., QEEG, fMRI, MEG, BIOMRK, NIRS, PET, MEA, and/or SPECT) to locate, track, and trace four types of learning traits including explicit and implicit knowledge from exposure to storage, and those neural pathways capturing emotions and empathy. Applicants must indicate imperative brain areas and identify critical inflection points along neural pathways that are required for efficiency, informing future potential intervention targets. Applicants shall develop a proof of concept mechanism (software or hardware, or both) that could be developed to promote optimal retention and access to memories. The White Paper must clearly communicate understanding of the topic, tools, and technologies related to the neurobiology of operant learning, considering and applying emotion and empathy factors, and describe fully a proposal to deliver a technical solution based on emerging science, novel discovery and modern detection methodologies. The proof of concept (POC) should be able to reproducibly reveal, predict, and replicate motor and cognitive skills’ pathways and movement sets, and significantly advance our understanding of the neurobiology of learning, memory, emotion, and empathetic brain-behavior, and possible brain-machine interconnectivity. Additionally, the POC should align and support the future capability to advance targeted stimulation of the brain’s connective networks, influence synaptic gates to enhance training effectiveness and skill permanence, and entertain the ability to insert novel “unexperiences.”
Please adhere to the following requirements:
- All concept white papers must be submitted using the template found on the registration page, “xTechBOLT_WhitePaper_Template.doc”. Any white papers submitted in a format other than that provided by the template will not be reviewed.
- Provide an optional Vimeo URL on the contest registration page to a video supporting your application. Production value does not matter at all, and the can be used to briefly explain the concept, introduce your team, or to otherwise demonstrate the technology concept proposed. MAXIMUM of 3-minutes for the video’s length.
- Please list your company name, and proposal title EXACTLY how you would like them to appear on any contest marketing materials, recommend clear and concise proposal titles to give readers and potential stakeholders understanding of how your technology would benefit the Army.