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.

Learn more about Challenges.

Several rows of colored paper dolls stand with their hands raised.

Image Credit: Tiina Urv, NCATS

Open Challenges

2020 Rare Diseases Are Not Rare! Challenge
Submission Period: February 29, 2020–April 30, 2020
If you know 10 people, chances are you know someone with a rare disease. There are about 7,000 different rare diseases that affect an estimated 30 million people in the United States. NCATS seeks creative approaches to raising awareness about rare diseases and the need for expanded research and patient support. Learn more about the Rare Diseases Are Not Rare! Challenge.

Closed Challenges

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.


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