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

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Posted June 27, 2017

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 DESCRIPTIONNIDA 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. [email protected]

Source: challenge.gov

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