Design by Biomedical Undergraduate Teams (DEBUT) Challenge


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2024 Challenge Now Open!


The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) and VentureWell are challenging undergraduate student teams to develop technology solutions to unmet needs in any area of health care. Six NIH partners, including the NIH Office of AIDS Research, the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, the National Cancer Institute, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institutes of Nursing Research, and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, are providing a prize each for: 1) technologies for HIV/AIDS prevention and/or care, 2) technologies for underrepresented populations and/or for low-resource settings, 3) technologies for cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment prize, 4) rehabilitative and assistive technologies for the functional and health care needs of people with physical disabilities, 5) technologies to empower nurses in community settings, and 6) solutions to problems faced by people with kidney diseases, their families, nephrologists, and other care providers.

Important Dates

  • Submission Deadline: January 17, 2024 to May 31, 2024, 11:59 PM EDT
  • Judging Period: June 7, 2024 to August 19, 2024
  • Winners Announced:  August 26, 2024 
  • Award Ceremony: October 2024, Biomedical Engineering Society Conference, Baltimore, Maryland

NIBIB-sponsored prizes

  • The Steven H. Krosnick Prize: $20,000
  • Second prize: $15,000
  • Third prize: $10,000
  • HIV/AIDS Prize: $15,000 (with funds from the NIH Office of AIDS Research)
  • Healthcare Technologies for Low-Resource Settings: $15,000 (with funds from the National Institute on Minority and Health Disparities)
  • Technologies for Cancer Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatment Prize: $15,000 (with funds from the National Cancer Institute)
  • Rehabilitative and Assistive Technologies for the Functional and Healthcare Needs of People with Physical Disabilities: $15,000  (with funds from the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development)
  • Technologies to Empower Nurses in Community Settings: $15,000 (with funds from the National Institute of Nursing Research
  • New! Kidney Technology Development Prize $15,000 (with funds from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)
  • 5 Honorable Mentions will receive $1,000 each

In addition to monetary prizes:

  • All NIH prize winners (including honorable mentions and non-U.S. citizen members of winning teams) will have the chance to partake in a self-paced, online commercialization course with didactic content, including embedded videos, covering the following concepts necessary to commercialize healthcare solutions: unmet need, value proposition, interviewing, proof-of-concept testing, regulatory, reimbursement, and milestone-driven go-to-market strategy.
  • Of the winning teams that complete the online course, up to 3 teams will be offered, at NIBIB’s discretion, the chance to participate in a second phase of commercialization training, d3Ci--Young Innovators. These teams will be selected based on the team’s completion of the online course, quality of the completed coursework and exercises, and effective participation in office hours, as evaluated by NIH staff. In d3Ci--Young Innovators, each team will engage in further exercises to commercialize their project, with the assistance of an assigned project manager, leading up to a final presentation to a group of four business advisors that will provide feedback.
  • In addition, NIBIB will consider offering additional in-kind support to DEBUT prize winners, which may include an invitation to tour the NIH campus. However, such additional in-kind support is not guaranteed and will only be provided at the discretion of NIBIB.

VentureWell-sponsored prizes

  1. Venture prize: $15,000
  2. Design Excellence prize: $5,000

Important Announcements


  • DEBUT is a team challenge. Projects must be submitted by Student Teams of at least three students. Interdisciplinary teams including students from different departments/colleges are welcome and encouraged to enter the challenge. For applications from institutions that have a biomedical engineering or bioengineering department, at least one student on the team must be majoring in biomedical engineering or bioengineering. The requirement of at least one biomedical engineering or bioengineering major is waived for student teams from institutions without a formal biomedical engineering or bioengineering department.
  • All team members must be undergraduate students enrolled full-time in an undergraduate curriculum during at least one full semester (or quarter if the institution is on a quarter system) of the 2023-2024 academic year.
  • Each Student Team may submit only one entry into this Challenge through the Team Captain. The Team Captain will register here and follow the links and instructions to certify that the entry meets all the Challenge rules and submit the Student Team's entry on behalf of the Student Team. At this time, teams will have the option to indicate that they wish to have their entries also considered for prizes sponsored by VentureWell. 

See the DEBUT Participation Rules and Guidelines for details. 

Read the Complete DEBUT 2024 Announcement

DEBUT Details

Read more information about the DEBUT Challenge: 

Additional Information: 

For more information and to submit entries, visit the DEBUT page.

Browse winning projects from previous years:

2023          20222021202020192018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 

For further information, contact Dr. Zeynep Erim at (301) 451-4797 or

Related News

April 5, 2024

NIBIB is marking the 10-year anniversary of a commercialization program that helps innovators bring their medical devices from the lab to the marketplace.

September 13, 2023

A team of Johns Hopkins biomedical engineering undergraduates took home a $15,000 prize at the National Institutes of Health’s 2023 Design by Biomedical Undergraduate Teams (DEBUT) Challenge, which seeks innovative solutions to unmet health needs. Source: Johns Hopkins University

August 30, 2023

Two teams of UC San Diego undergraduate bioengineering students won Design by Biomedical Undergraduate Teams (DEBUT) awards from the National Institutes of Health. Source: UC San Diego

August 25, 2023
A gloved hand holds the EpicPen epinephrine autoinjector

The National Institutes of Health and the higher education non-profit VentureWell have selected 10 winners and five honorable mentions of the Design by Biomedical Undergraduate Teams (DEBUT) Challenge

August 26, 2022
An image of the POCAS:TB slide

The NIH announced the winners of the DEBUT Challenge with prizes totaling $130,000