Below is a summary of the most frequently asked questions from the February 7, 2022 Virtual Information Session, which included an overview of the competition and open Q&A with a government panel.

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Competition scope

What is a “targeted neuromodulation” therapy?
Targeted neuromodulation devices are devices that selectively stimulate nerves for the purpose of generating a positive therapeutic effect. In the context of this competition, they should be capable of quantitatively assessing and controlling multiple on-target and related off-target effects. For more details, see about the Neuromod Prize.

Is _____ stimulation modality in scope?
Participants are encouraged to submit solutions with any stimulation modality, so long as they are able to address the Phase 1 judging criteria and target performance considerations. In cases where participants think a consideration may not directly apply to their solutions, they should explain their reasoning, as well as how the solution achieves the submission requirements and meets criteria in other ways. 

Are both invasive and noninvasive devices in scope?
Both invasive and noninvasive devices can be submitted, but participants should carefully address each of the Phase 1 judging criteria and target performance considerations in their submissions. 

Can solutions stimulate or target _____ (e.g., deep brain stimulation)?
The Neuromod Prize seeks solutions that stimulate peripheral nerves (including at the level of the spinal cord) to target autonomic functions of the peripheral nervous system. Therefore, solutions that exclusively stimulate the brain or target non-autonomic functions do not address the goals of this competition.


Can non-U.S. citizens or entities participate?

To be eligible to win a cash prize, an individual submitting on their own behalf, or named as the “Team Captain,” must be a citizen or permanent resident of the U.S. If participants are competing on behalf of an entity (i.e., on behalf of a legally established organization, institution, or corporation) , the entity must be incorporated in and maintain a primary place of business in the United States. 

Non-U.S. citizens and non-permanent residents can participate as a member of a team or on behalf of an entity that otherwise satisfies the eligibility rules. Only one prize payment will be issued to each winning Individual, Team Captain, or Entity; any subsequent distribution of prize funds to other team members or entities is at the prize recipient’s discretion and is not the responsibility of NIH.

If you are ineligible to be a sole or lead participant, please consider signing up for the solver community for potential collaboration opportunities.  

Is the competition open to participants that have not previously participated in the SPARC program?
Yes! The competition is open to all eligible participants, regardless of previous participation in SPARC. For SPARC awardees, some restrictions on the usage of funds may apply. Please see the participation rules for more information. 

Can solutions that have been developed with prior federal funding be submitted?
Yes, although some restrictions on the usage of funds may apply. Please see the participation rules for more information. 

Are collaborations permitted?
Collaborations are encouraged where teams benefit from working together. The solver community is available to any participants that are looking to collaborate or join a team. 

Is each winner guaranteed $100,000?
Up to eight winners will receive a share of the $800,000 prize pool at the discretion of NIH. NIH anticipates distributing, at a minimum, $100,000 to each winner. A single payment will be made to each winning Individual, Team Captain, or Entity.  The Neuromod Prize will not be responsible for the distribution of funds amongst any team members. 

Does prize funding need to be allocated towards future development?
The Neuromod Prize, like other prize competitions, does not place restrictions on the usage of funds (though other federal, state, local, and/or institutional requirements may apply). While they are not obligated, Phase 1 winners are expected and encouraged to continue participating in Phase 2 of the Neuromod Prize. Only Phase 2 winners will be eligible to advance to a planned Phase 3.


What is the expected fidelity of studies for solutions?
Proposed solutions should be capable of completing IDE-enabling (Investigational Device Exemption) studies by 2025, or any study that provides clinical evidence to be considered for human trials. Read about the Neuromod Prize for more information.

Can solutions beyond the concept stage be submitted?
Yes, solutions at any stage of development can be submitted. 

Can solutions be built with either existing or new devices?
Innovations in both existing and new devices can be submitted.

Can solutions make use of two or more locations for stimulation?
The Neuromod Prize does not prohibit the usage of multiple stimulation locations. It is the responsibility of participants to demonstrate how their complete solution meets the Phase 1 judging criteria and address the target performance considerations.


Are there any requirements for supporting data in submissions?
There are no explicit supporting data requirements for submissions in Phase 1, however participants should provide sufficient evidence that the proposed solution would be successful and meet the Phase 1 judging criteria and target performance considerations  

Are multiple submissions from the same team allowed?
Participants are not prohibited from submitting more than one solution, though each submission should represent a substantially distinct solution that meets the submission requirements and Phase 1 judging criteria.

Do potential team members for future phases need to be indicated in Phase 1 submissions?
Only a complete list of team members participating in Phase 1 needs to be indicated in Phase 1 submissions. Rules regarding team composition in planned future phases are pending official announcement of later phases.

What information should be included in the appendix?
Participants can include supporting data, references, external links, and any other information in their appendix, with the understanding that this information is not guaranteed the same level of review as the 15-page concept paper. External links in the 15-page concept paper will NOT be guaranteed review. 

Are Phase 1 winners committed to participating in Phase 2?
All winning teams are encouraged and expected, but not required, to accept the exclusive invitation to participate in future phases. Eligibility for any future prizes will be contingent upon full participation in previous phases.