NCATS Challenges and Prize Competitions Program

NCATS runs Challenges to find new and creative approaches to problems from innovative thinkers. Challenges are a flexible alternative to traditional funding mechanisms, such as contracts and grants. By using Challenges, NCATS can encourage collaborations, stimulate innovative ideas, and engage a diverse array of people from all across the country in developing successful solutions to government needs.

Double circle infographic with the outer circle containing 4 evenly divided sections called: Better Treatments, Novel Chemistries, Approved Drugs, and Innovative Technologies. Each section contains 4 icons associated with the name of each quarter. The inner circle contains the words Planning, Prototype Delivery, and Prototype Development. At the center of the double circle are the words Integrated Platform.

Learn more about Challenges.

Current Opportunities

2020 ASPIRE Reduction-to-Practice Challenge

Submission period: Nov. 30, 2020–Feb. 28, 2021

The goal of the 2020 ASPIRE Reduction-to-Practice challenge is to spur the development of a comprehensive integrated platform for translational innovation in pain, opioid use disorder and overdose. ASPIRE is supported through the Helping to End Addiction Long-term InitiativeSM, or NIH Heal InitiativeSM.
Learn more about Challenge.

Expired Opportunities

The 2020 Rare Diseases Are Not Rare! Challenge entrants created a gallery of social media and art submissions, from videos and poems to spoken-word performances and personal stories. Winners and honorable mentions have been announced. 

The 2018 ASPIRE Design Challenges encouraged innovative and catalytic approaches toward solving the opioid crisis by developing “A Specialized Platform for Innovative Research Exploration” (ASPIRE).

The 2018 Rare Diseases Are Not Rare! Challenge received nearly 50 submissions, including posters, videos, and poems from people around the country to help bring attention to rare diseases and encourage interest in medical research.


Subscribe to the NCATS Announcements Listserv.