Disruptive Technology Initiative:

Pitch Contest 2017

Request for Proposals

Be part of creating the future of neuropsychology!

Technological breakthroughs are creating enormous potential for the future of neuropsychology and triggering opportunities to create novel strategies for both assessment and intervention. Cognitive fitness is growing into a multi-billion dollar industry. Targets have shifted from diagnosis and treatment of established diseases to early intervention, prevention, and cognitive enhancement. Ubiquitous mobile devices enable both active and passive sensing of our cognitive and emotional states, and “the Internet of things” promises to offer both assessment and intervention strategies previously unimaginable (“…my car/clock/refrigerator does that…”). In keeping with this trend, the AACN seeks to stimulate innovations capable of changing the landscape of clinical neuropsychology in fundamental ways.

To promote the development of such “disruptive technologies,” the 2017 AACN Annual Meeting in Boston (June 8-10) will feature a Pitch Contest (compare Shark Tank). The pitch ideas need to focus on neuropsychological assessment and/or intervention, prevention, or improvement of cognitive functions, and be accessible to broad populations across the United States or the world. Applications are being accepted in two categories:

  • Shoot for the Stars: Unleash your wildest ideas. Change the world. Transform the practice of clinical neuropsychology. Timeframe: 5 to 10 years.
  • Push Current Boundaries: Given current practices for assessment and treatment or prevention, what is the next logical step to transform neuropsychology? How can you bring new technologies to enhance the existing state-of-the-art? Timeframe: 1 to 2 years.

Share your ideas! The application is only one page long. The Principal Investigators of the two top-scoring applications within each category will have 5-minute slots in a plenary session on Thursday, June 8, 2017, from 12:15 pm – 1:45 pm, at our Annual Meeting in Boston, to pitch their ideas before a live audience and expert judges, including:

  • Alvaro Fernandez, MA, MBA, CEO of SharpBrains, a leading research organization that evaluates the world markets for brain assessment and training technology;
  • Adam J. Haim, PhD, Chief, Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Programs at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH); and
  • David Birnbach, Senior Lecturer, MIT Sloan School of Management, mentor in global entrepreneurship (G-Lab) and Enterprise Management (EM-Lab).

This is a rare opportunity to hone your pitching skills and get feedback from industry and federal government leaders in technology innovations that are focused on the brain and cognition. We hope the AACN Disruptive Technology Initiative’s Pitch Contest will be a valuable step in your path to developing successful business opportunities from your brilliant ideas!

Instructions for Submissions:

  • Application: The AACN Disruptive Technology Initiative Pitch Contest applications are designed to be brief but compelling. Applicants will submit their entries using the AACN’s abstract submission portal (the same portal used to submit abstracts for the poster sessions at our annual meeting, which will open January 1, 2017 and close at midnight (Pacific Standard Time) on March 7, 2017.
  • The Research Plan has a maximum length of ~1 page (3000 characters), and should include the following components:
    • Specific Aims: state concisely the goals of the proposed research and expected outcomes (~750 characters).
    • Research Strategy: Significance, Innovation & Approach: Why is your project important? How is it new? What is your strategy for creating the product or service and determining its validity or impact? Specify measurable outcomes, provide a timeline, and indicate why your project is feasible. (~1500 characters)
    • Commercialization Path: Who will purchase the product/service when available, what is the potential market, and how will the product be sold? How much will your project cost, how much will the product or service cost, and how much will it earn? (~750 characters).
  • Evaluation: All applications will be evaluated by the AACN Disruptive Technology Initiative committee and scored following criteria similar to those used for NIH grant reviews. Scored criteria include: 1. Significance; 2. Innovation; 3. Approach; and 4. Overall Impact. Each of these is rated on a 9-point scale (1 = exceptional; 9 = poor).  The “Overall Impact” category will be used to select finalists in each submission category; in case of ties the additional criteria will be used.  The four finalists each will have 5 minutes to present their proposal in the Pitch Contest to be held at the Annual Meeting in Boston, Thursday, June 8, 12:15pm-1:45pm, 2017.  Winners will be decided by a panel of expert judges, including Alvaro Fernandez and Adam Haim.
  • Why are we doing this? The AACN Disruptive Technology Initiative Pitch Contest aims to help our members develop ideas that can ultimately be funded through other mechanisms. There are many paths to launch new technology products and services with support from federal grants, state grants, angel funding, foundations, or other local groups or philanthropists. Our Pitch Contest was designed to follow loosely in the spirit of the National Institutes of Health Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) grant mechanisms. Indeed the SBIR/STTR program is called “America’s Seed Fund” (see https://www.sbir.gov/). This reflected our perception that many disruptive “startup” ideas from our members and their partners may not be ready for presentation to the venture capital (VC) market but may be ready for development as small grants, similar to the SBIR/STTR grants.  While the AACN does not have funds (yet) to support this research directly, we hope through the Pitch Contest to help our members develop and hone their ideas so that they can compete effectively for funding at federal and state agencies, through foundations, or privately.  We also hope the AACN Pitch Contest will help stimulate interest more broadly in developing technologies that can ultimately advance the discipline of clinical neuropsychology world-wide.
  • What distinguishes the two categories for submission? Submissions for the AACN Pushing Current Boundaries category are seen as “next step” developments that may incorporate technology into existing assessment or intervention strategies and in the process improve accuracy of diagnosis, precision of measurement, ecological validity, dissemination of findings, or other outcomes. The scope of these projects should be limited to goals that may be achieved within one or two years.  For further guidance, applicants may look to the detailed guidelines used by the NIH for the SBIR/STTR “Phase I” application process.  In contrast to the Pushing Current Boundaries category, the Shoot for the Stars competition is designed for submissions with larger scope and possible duration of execution (to be achieved within the next 5 to 10 years). Applications of this type are expected to target major issues, and transform the way clinical neuropsychology assessments and/or interventions are practiced today. Please note that specifying an approximate budget is still important to help reviewers assess feasibility; even though we are not funding these applications, it is critical in developing any pitch to specify what are your deliverables, what will it cost, and what are the anticipated returns?
  • Caveats and Disclaimers: This competition is being sponsored by the AACN purely to stimulate interest in technology development relevant to Clinical Neuropsychology and in no way comprises an offer of endorsement or support (financial or otherwise) of products or services that may be developed as a result. Applicants should further recognize that the AACN cannot be responsible for any intellectual property rights claims that may arise from participating in this competition, and applicants should carefully evaluate intellectual property rights issues for themselves, and the institutions from which they may be applying.
  • Deadlines:
    • Submission:
      • Portal Opens: Monday, January 1, 2017.
      • Portal Closes: Monday, March 7, 2017 – midnight Pacific time
    • AACN Review Process: Tuesday, March 8 through Friday, March 31, 2017
    • Notification of Finalist Status: Monday April 3, 2017
    • Finalists’ Pitch Contest: Thursday, June 8, 2017, 12:15 pm to 1:45 pm, Eastern Time
  • Awards: The winner within each category will be chosen by the judges at the Pitch Contest session, and recognition awards will be given at the end of this session.
  • Questions: rbilder@mednet.ucla.edu

Thank you for your interest. The submission deadline has passed.