NIH Technology Accelerator Challenge

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Non-invasive Diagnostic Technologies for Global Health

The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) of the National Institutes of Health supports and encourages the development of new diagnostic technologies important for global health. Through this Challenge, NIBIB will offer $1,000,000 in prizes to reward and spur the development of platform concepts and prototypes of non-invasive, multiplexed diagnostic technologies for sickle cell disease, malaria, and anemia,  diseases with high global and public health impact. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation shares a commitment to global health and is cooperating with NIBIB to consider additional support for the Challenge winners and honorable mentions. The Gates Foundation, separately, will review the Challenge winners and honorable mentions selected by NIBIB for potential follow-on funding of up to $500,000 and in-kind support that can transform design concepts into products for global health on an accelerated timeframe.

Five components of NIH have partnered with NIBIB to contribute to the $1,000,000 prize purse and will participate in selection of winners and honorable mentions: NIH Office of the Director; National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease; National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute; National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; and the Fogarty International Center. 

Important Dates

Submissions open: March 2 - June 16, 2020

NIBIB winners announced: August 2020 

Challenge Submission Details

To be responsive to this Challenge, a submission should present two proposals:

  1. A design with initial feasibility data for a diagnostic platform assessing two diseases in the vasculature, one of which must be sickle cell disease, malaria, or anemia
  2. A robust description of the path for translation of the technology to global health use cases, and how the technology will need to develop further to reduce cost and be suitable for field use.

A strong Challenge submission includes a device 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 relevant diseases/conditions
  • At least one target disease should be sickle cell disease, malaria, or anemia
  • 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
  • Non-invasive and does not require blood sampling
  • Low-cost and accessible
  • Self-contained and highly portable; for example, proposed device does not use biological reagents
  • Allows rapid data collection and time to result
  • Integrates prior context about the patient and environment into the test results
  • Scalable to population delivery

Challenge Prizes

NIH will offer $1,000,000 in prizes, including up to $500,000 for a top finalist and smaller awards to approximately five semi-finalists. NIBIB may recognize additional participants with non-monetary honorable mentions.

Following the NIH selection of winners, the Gates Foundation has indicated its intent to separately consider and assess the submissions of the prize winners and honorable mentions for potential additional support from Gates Foundation to develop the proposed technologies for global health applications. If selected by Gates Foundation after the Challenge, follow-on support from Gates Foundation may include grants of up to $500,000 and in-kind support in the form of consultations and partnerships for clinical data collection, software development, scale-up and manufacturing. The goals of this collaborative effort are to stimulate the design of new diagnostic technologies to transform public and global health and to accelerate the full development of products for use in low-resource settings.   

How to Enter the Challenge

Register and submit on the Challenge website. Be sure to review the Challenge Guidelines.

Although a notice of intent to submit an application is not required, is not binding, and does not enter into the review of a subsequent application, the information that it contains allows NIH staff to estimate the potential review workload and plan the review. By May 2, 2020, prospective applicants are asked to indicate on the Challenge website in the Challenge Applicant Portal the participant or team's intent to submit an application. This is done by selecting "Intent to Submit an Application" after providing the following information in the Challenge Applicant Portal:

  • Descriptive title of proposed activity
  • Name(s), address(es), and telephone number(s) of the PD(s)/PI(s)
  • Names of other key personnel
  • Participating institution(s) or entities


Contact the Challenge manager.