About the Neuromod Prize

The opportunity

The Neuromod Prize is a SPARC (Stimulating Peripheral Activity to Relieve Conditions) initiative from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that is accelerating the development of targeted neuromodulation therapies. The first phase of the competition called on scientists, engineers, and clinicians to submit novel concepts and plans for development.

The primary component of a submission is a concept paper (15 pages maximum) that summarizes the proposed targeted neuromodulation therapy. The proposed solution should be tunable, accurate, and precise, and should demonstrate an ability to quantitatively assess and control multiple on-target and related off-target effects. Visit the submission requirements for more details. 

A breakthrough moment

Neuromodulation has the potential to treat nearly any condition in the body through regulation of the nervous system. Recent innovations in device technology and improved understanding of the interactions between the nervous system and target tissues and organs have led to a breakthrough moment in the field. As decades of research are applied in new ways, innovators are identifying novel neuromodulation approaches that are capable of selectively targeting multiple organs and functions. Bringing more of these solutions to patients will require better clinical translation and improved collaborations between industry, research, and government.

What is neuromodulation?

Neuromodulation is the science of regulating nervous system activity for a therapeutic benefit. Innovators are developing technologies to directly stimulate the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nervous system to treat symptoms and diseases, producing life-changing patient benefits — from relieving pain and preventing seizures to restoring organ function. Neuromodulation technologies, including direct electrical, ultrasound, infrared light, magnetic stimulation, and other modalities, have shown substantial promise in regulating nervous system activity in attempts to target organ function and treat disease.

The opportunity to treat any condition

Emerging research is identifying means to selectively target multiple organ functions by stimulating nerve terminals and sub-branches, through activation of selected nerve fascicles and/or parameterizing of the stimuli. Advancing these solutions will have transformative effects on the field of neuromodulation.

Overview

HOW THE COMPETITION WILL UNFOLD

With the Neuromod Prize, NIH hopes to bridge the gap between early-stage research and clinical use, bringing innovative neuromodulation therapies to patients. Specifically, the competition seeks solutions capable of independently regulating two or more desired autonomic functions without unintended effects.

Phase 1: Concepts and plans for development

The first phase of the competition called on all eligible participants — including scientists, engineers, and clinicians — to submit novel concepts and plans for development.

  • Participants submitted concept papers (maximum 15 pages) describing their proposed therapeutic approaches, their plans for conducting proof-of-concept studies, their rationales for therapeutic use, and their expectations for clinical impact.
  • The proposed solutions should be capable of completing IDE-enabling (Investigational Device Exemption) studies by 2025. Solutions should be tunable, accurate, and precise, and should demonstrate an ability to quantitatively assess and control multiple on-target and related off-target effects. The proposed solutions must address pressing therapeutic needs, be translatable for immediate or near-term in-human use, enhance or replace existing treatments, and benefit patients and/or practicing clinicians.
  • A judging panel will select up to eight winners according to official Phase 1 judging criteria. Phase 1 winners will receive a share of the Phase 1 prize pool (up to $800,000). NIH intends to announce a subsequent Phase 2 of the Neuromod Prize, in which only the winners of Phase 1 will be invited to participate.
  • All submissions were required to be completed using the Phase 1 form and submitted by 4:59 p.m. EDT on April 28, 2022.

Phase 2: Proof-of-concept studies

The planned second phase of the competition will invite up to eight winning teams from Phase 1 to build on their submissions by conducting proof-of-concept studies:

  • Phase 1 winners will be exclusively invited to participate in Phase 2; they will be eligible to compete for the planned Phase 2 prize pool of $4 million.
  • Up to four Phase 2 winners may be selected to advance to Phase 3.
  • The competition will provide technical assistance and additional resources to help teams accelerate and develop their solutions.
  • Phase 2 is anticipated to begin in Summer 2022 and conclude in Summer 2023.
  • All details of Phase 2 are subject to change.

Phase 3: IDE-enabling studies

The planned third phase of the competition will invite Phase 2 winners to build on their submissions by conducting IDE-enabling studies:

  • Phase 2 winners will be exclusively invited to participate in Phase 3; they will be eligible to compete for the planned Phase 3 prize pool of $5 million.
  • The competition will provide teams with resources corresponding to the increasing level of development from Phase 2.
  • Phase 3 is anticipated to begin in Summer 2023 and conclude in Summer 2025.
  • All details of Phase 3 are subject to change.

How to enter

REGISTER YOUR TEAM

Set up an account so you can submit as soon as your concept paper is ready.

READ THE DETAILS

Learn more about the timeline, submission requirements, judging criteria, and judging process.

EXPLORE RESOURCES

Join the optional virtual information session, explore the resource hub, and consider opportunities to collaborate.

ENTER YOUR SUBMISSION

Log in to your account to upload your concept paper in PDF format and fill out additional submission details by April 28.

The submission period for Phase 1 is now closed.