The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), with the support of its partners, is offering up to $1,000,000 in cash prizes for innovative diagnostic technologies to help improve maternal health around the world. Pregnancy and childbirth complications are a major global health problem, resulting in the deaths of more than 800 women and 7,000 newborns each day. Contributing to the high rates of maternal morbidity and mortality in low-resource settings is a lack of low-cost diagnostics that operate at the point-of-care and are capable of detecting and differentiating common conditions associated with pregnancy.
The NIH Technology Accelerator Challenge for Maternal Health (NTAC: Maternal Health) seeks to spur and reward the development of prototypes for low-cost, point-of-care molecular, cellular, and/or metabolic sensing and diagnostic technologies to guide rapid clinical decision-making, improve patient outcomes, and ultimately prevent maternal morbidity and mortality.
To win NTAC: Maternal Health, participants must: (1) Submit their design for a point-of-care diagnostic test or platform technology with initial feasibility data or references addressing at least two of the four priority conditions listed below affecting maternal health during antenatal and intrapartum periods; and (2) Submit a robust description of the proposed path for translation and further development of the diagnostic technology for use in global health settings. Additionally, diagnostics should be fully integrated digital health platforms. The four priority conditions and specific examples are as follows:
- Infection: viral, bacterial, or parasitic infections; sepsis; post-procedural infections
- Hypertensive disease: pre-eclampsia; eclampsia
- Hemorrhage: acute anemia; iron deficiency anemia; coagulopathy
- Placental issues: angiogenic or other markers of placental disruption
Submissions of diagnostic technologies may address additional conditions of relevance to maternal health; however, only those submissions that address at least two of the four priority conditions listed above will be considered for cash prizes. A strong submission to this Challenge will include a diagnostic technology design with the following characteristics:
- Technical validity demonstrated by initial feasibility data or references
- Platform potential – potential to adapt or extend the device to at least two of the priority conditions
- Measures parameters that could be used to track disease state and/or response to therapy
- Uses mobile device or portable attachment to a mobile device
- Low-cost, accurate, reliable, and accessible
- Self-contained and highly portable
- Allows rapid data collection and time to result
- Integrates prior context about the patient and environment in the test result
- Scalable to population delivery
Additional information about the Challenge is provided in the NTAC: Maternal Health Challenge Announcement, along with eligibility and participation rules, judging criteria, and registration and submission instructions and guidelines.
The total prize purse from NIBIB for this Challenge is up to $1,000,000. NIBIB will award a:
- First-place finalist up to $500,000
- Second-place finalist up to $300,000
- Third-place finalist up to $150,000
One or more semi-finalists may be awarded up to $50,000 each at the discretion of NIBIB depending upon the availability of unawarded prize purse funds. NIBIB may recognize additional participants with non-monetary honorable mention awards.
Following the selection and awarding of the NIBIB prizes, the Gates Foundation has indicated its intent to review the submissions from Challenge finalists, semi-finalists, and honorable mentions for potential additional support. The submissions considered by the Gates Foundation for additional support, based on potential for impact in low-resource settings, may be eligible for some combination of grant funding and in-kind support in the form of consultations and partnerships for clinical data collection, software development, scale-up and manufacturing.
December 7, 2021: Challenge launched
January 5, 2022: Submission Portal opens
January 13, 2022, 12:00 p.m. ET: Free informational webinar
April 1, 2022: Deadline for competition registration
April 22, 2022: Submission deadline
July 2022: Winners announced
How to Participate
- Review the full Challenge Announcement and timeline. Interested participants should carefully review the detailed Challenge description, eligibility and participation rules, judging criteria, and registration and submission instructions.
- Stay up to date on the Challenge. Click here to send a request or send an email to NTAC@venturewell.org.
- Sign up for an informational webinar. The Challenge sponsors will host a webinar on January 13, 2022, 12:00 p.m. ET for interested participants to learn more about NTAC: Maternal Health and get their questions answered.
- Register for the Challenge. Each individual, team, or entity must register to compete in the Challenge by April 1, 2022.
- Submit your entry to the Challenge. The submission portal will open on January 5, 2022 and will close on April 22, 2022.
Click here to navigate to the Registration portal, where you can register to compete in the Challenge. Participants must complete their registration by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on April 1, 2022. Participants who do not complete their registration by the deadline will not have their submissions considered for this Challenge.
When registering, you must indicate how you are participating in the Challenge; either as:
- An Individual: on behalf of yourself
- To be eligible to receive a cash prize, the Individual must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States.
- A Team: on behalf of a group of individuals
- Each participating Team is required to identify a Team Captain who will register and submit on behalf of the Team members. The Team Captain is responsible for all communications with the Challenge sponsors and, in the event of winning a cash prize, will be paid the prize in full. To be eligible to receive a cash prize, the Team Captain must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States.
- An Entity: on behalf of a legally established organization, institution, or corporation
- Each participating Entity is required to identify a Point of Contact who will register and submit on behalf of the Entity. The Point of Contact is responsible for all communications with the Challenge sponsors. In the event of winning a cash prize, the prize will be paid directly to the Entity, not to the Point of Contact. To be eligible to receive a cash prize, the Entity must be incorporated in and maintain a primary place of business in the United States.
Note: Participants intending to use Federal grant or cooperative agreement funds to develop their Challenge submissions (if the use of such funds is consistent with the purpose, terms, and conditions of the grant award or cooperative agreement) must register for and participate in the Challenge as an Entity on behalf of the awardee institution, organization, or entity.
Submissions to this Challenge will begin to be accepted on January 5, 2022 and must be submitted by April 22, 2022. Sign up for our email list to be kept up to date on any other Challenge updates.
In the meantime, please carefully review the Judging Criteria, Submission Requirements, and Submission Guidelines sections of the Challenge Announcement.