NCATS ASPIRE Design Challenges: Solution Submission Instructions and Template


Solution Due Dates: 12:00 p.m. ET December 31, 2018 - 12:00 p.m. ET May 31, 2019.

Please use the template below to format your submission.

NCATS refers to participants in the NCATS ASPIRE Design Challenges as “innovators” because all solutions will require highly innovative approaches to achieve success. 

Registration Process for Participants

To participate in any of the NCATS ASPIRE Design Challenges, every innovator, whether an individual or member of a team, must first register. Innovators may access the registration and submission platform at  by searching for the following challenges:

To submit a solution on, please paste the project summary into the “Description” box. Detailed solutions should be created using the word template below and must be uploaded as word documents to

When submitting a solution, at the bottom of the submission page:

Check the first box (“Hide the contents of my submission from all others on By checking this box, you will hide your submission and all associated files from public view. Only the agency challenge managers will see this content”).

Do not check the second box (“Show associated solution files: Check this box if you have made your solution public and also want to share its associated files”). By leaving this box unchecked, project summaries will be publicly available, but only NCATS will have access to your uploaded complete solution.  

All innovators submitting solutions must agree to the terms & conditions. Please review the detailed rules and information and then check the “agree to terms & conditions” box while submitting a solution on

Submission Requirements

Solutions must:

  • Be written in English and observe all page limits, page dimensions (8.5 x 11 inches), font size (11 point or greater), and margins (1-inch). (The template that follows meets these requirements.)
  • Include 4 required sections

Any material that exceeds stated page limits will be considered supplemental and will be used at the reviewers’ and judges’ discretion.

Innovators must not use HHS’s logo or official seal or the logo of NIH or NCATS in the submissions and must not claim federal government endorsement.

Please divide the submission into the 4 sections indicated in the template below.


Section 1

Cover Page (1 page; this does not count toward the 4- and 12-page limit, for Challenges 1 - 4 and Challenge 5, respectively.)

Please include the following details in the cover page:

  • The lead innovator’s name and position in institution/organization/company
  • List of all team members’ names and affiliations
  • Indicate the name of the Challenge you are entering
  • A project summary of 300 or fewer words that clearly states the advantages and novelties of the proposed solution.

Note: the project summary must also be pasted into the description box at

Section 2

Description of the Proposed Solution (4- and 12-page limit for Challenges 1 - 4 and Challenge 5, respectively.)

Please include the following sections and content in the description of the proposed solution.

  • Background/Significance
    • Include background and describe any existing methods or technologies that would be used, combined or built based on the proposed design.
    • Cite references to peer-reviewed articles that support the proposed solution (see “REFERENCES” below).
    • Describe the tools, technologies and protocols that would be needed to develop the proposed solution.
    • Clearly state how the proposed solution would advance discovery and development of novel treatments for pain, opioid use disorder and overdose.
  • Innovation and Team
    • Include an “innovation statement” that discusses the advantages and potential pitfalls of the proposed approach, and how and why combining technologies or protocols may provide advantageous results; highlight cross-discipline integration of approaches. 
    • Describe the ability of the individual or team to execute the proposed solution.
    • If the team consists of multiple experts residing in different locations, include a brief statement to describe how the team was structured and how exchange of knowledge, ideas, and solutions was facilitated among team members.
  • Research Design and Methods
    • Include preliminary data, if applicable.
    • Provide an overview of the design.
    • Describe methods and analyses used, including any new methodology used and why it represents an improvement over the existing ones.
    • Describe any strategy to establish feasibility and address the management of any high-risk aspects of the proposed design.
    • Discuss the way in which the results will be collected, analyzed and interpreted.
    • Include estimated timeframes, supporting precedents and any special resources that would be needed.
    • List potential difficulties and limitations and how these could be overcome or mitigated
    • If applicable, address protections of human subjects, and compliance with policies related to use of human stem cells, biosafety issues and use of technologies covered by patents or other intellectual property protection.

Please review the Judging Criteria for the Challenge(s) you selected and address the criteria in your submission.

Section 3

Biographical Sketches (5-page maximum; this does not count toward the 4- and 12-page limit for Challenges 1 - 4 and Challenge 5, respectively.)

For each individual, whether participating solely or as a member of a team, a biographical sketch of relevant experience and expertise, including applicable publications, must be included. You may use the NIH Bibliographic Sketch format (see Pease provide sufficient evidence of your technical competence and describe skills and experiences that are relevant to the challenge.

Section 4

References (Include only the most relevant citations; this section does not count toward the 4- and 12-page limit for Challenges 1 - 4 and Challenge 5, respectively.)

Please use APA style for citations and references.