Entrepreneurial challenge to build diversity and innovation
In both science and business, diverse perspectives are essential for innovation. Or as Dr. Hannah Valantine, former NIH chief officer for scientific workforce diversity, often reaffirmed, “Great minds think differently.” Recognizing that diverse scientific perspectives are important in identifying solutions to complex problems, NIA strives to support individuals from underrepresented backgrounds, whether they work in a lab or an office.
We remain committed to achieving this endeavor. Research has shown that underrepresented scientists and entrepreneurs — including women, racial and ethnic minorities, sexual and gender minorities, and people with disabilities — face unique challenges when applying for NIH Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants. To dive deeper into this issue, NIA recently conducted a focus group and published a request for information to help identify potential gaps and needs in federal support for diverse innovators.
To help bridge those gaps, NIA’s Office of Strategic Extramural Programs and Office of Special Populations launched the Healthy Aging Start-Up Challenge and Bootcamp to Foster Diversity and Accelerate Innovation earlier this month. Up to 20 finalists will be selected to participate in a four-month entrepreneurial bootcamp and compete to be one of up to five challenge winners who will each receive a $60,000 cash prize.
Competition, cash, and coaching
While SBIR/STTR funding can be critical to supporting early-stage research and development activities, the perspectives of experienced life sciences entrepreneurs are also essential. Bootcamp resources will include key tools for entrepreneurial success such as mentorship, coaching, workshops, grant application skill building, and peer-to-peer and industry network connections.
This challenge’s cash prize and resources will help participants launch start-ups and execute critical early-stage activities, such as developing a prototype or building an experienced team. The hope is to build a strong foundation of diverse start-ups that will consistently compete for future NIA SBIR/STTR funding for innovative technologies and products to promote healthy aging and combat aging-related diseases and conditions.
Check out the April 20 webinar and apply by May 23!
If all this gets your inner scientific “Shark Tank” competitive juices flowing, take the next step and attend our April 20 pre-application webinar to learn more and have your questions answered. After that, be sure to complete the application form and submit it to NIAstartupchallenge@mail.nih.gov before midnight on May 23.
Stage 1 finalists will be announced on June 30, and the bootcamp will run from July 18 through Nov. 18, 2022. For more information about this exciting entrepreneurial opportunity, visit Start-Up Challenge, email NIAstartupchallenge@nih.gov, or leave a comment below. We wish you the best of luck in turning your innovative ideas into reality!