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NIH to Award $1M in Prizes for New Maternal Health Diagnostic Tests

NEW YORK ─ The National Institutes of Health on Tuesday announced it is offering up to $1 million in cash prizes for innovative diagnostic technologies to improve maternal health globally.

The program, called the NIH Technology Accelerator Challenge for Maternal Health, will seek to spur and reward the development of prototypes for low-cost, point-of-care molecular, cellular, and/or metabolic sensing and diagnostic technologies, the NIH said.

The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering will manage the competition in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and with support from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the NIH Office of Research on Women's Health.

Prototype devices submitted to the competition should be able to guide rapid clinical decision-making, improve patient outcomes, and help prevent maternal morbidity and mortality, NIH said. Further, the prototypes should be fully integrable with digital health platforms and diagnose at least two pregnancy-associated conditions including infections, hypertensive disease, hemorrhage, or placental issues.

Program participants will compete for a first-place prize of up to $500,000, a second-place prize of up to $300,000, and a third-place prize of up to $150,000. Semi-finalists may receive additional prizes of $50,000 and honorable mentions, NIH said.

Further, the Gates Foundation will separately review winners and honorable mentions and consider them for follow-on support. Recipients may receive grant funding and/or in-kind support in the form of consultations and partnerships for clinical data collection, software development, scale-up, and manufacturing, NIH said.

The medical research agency's announcement occurred in conjunction with a White House Maternal Health Day of Action.