The America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science (COMPETES) Act, first passed in 2007 and reauthorized in 2022, allows NIH to challenge research, development, and other communities to improve the competitiveness of the United States. These challenges use cash and other prizes to stimulate solutions for well-defined problems, spur ideas or practices that could point to solutions, help build on skills or capacity in the community, and encourage innovation.
Challenges can include a variety of partners, individuals, and organizations that may not qualify for traditional research funding mechanisms. NICHD collaborates with other agencies, including the Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation at the National Air and Space Administration (NASA), and vendors to conduct challenges and ensure fair competitions that comply with the America COMPETES Act provisions.
NICHD has led or participated in the following challenges to date:
- NIH Technology Accelerator Challenge (NTAC) for Maternal Health: NTAC awarded cash prizes for innovative diagnostic technologies to help improve maternal health by diagnosing conditions related to maternal morbidity and mortality.
- Speaking Up About Mental Health! This Is My Story: This national essay contest for high school students addresses ways to eliminate and/or reduce mental health stigma that young people may need to overcome when seeking mental health treatment.
- Decoding Maternal Morbidity Data Challenge: This challenge sought innovative methods for identifying complication risks in first-time pregnancies.
- Pediatric COVID-19 Data Challenge: NICHD partnered with other federal agencies to help develop computational models to predict children at risk for severe COVID-19 complications.
- Design by Biomedical Undergraduate Teams (DEBUT) Challenge: The National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR) participates in this challenge annually. DEBUT encourages undergraduate students to develop technology solutions for unmet needs in any area of healthcare.
- DREAM Preterm Birth Prediction Challenge : The Perinatology Research Branch in our Division of Intramural Research co-led this challenge to develop predictive models for gestational age and spontaneous preterm birth. The team published their findings in Cell Reports Medicine.
- Challenge.gov offers a central location for information about federal challenges under the America COMPETES Act.
- NASA Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation
- NICHD News Items About Challenges