BETHESDA, MD--(Marketwired - Dec 23, 2014) -  More than 70 teams composed of 568 students and entrepreneurs have been accepted to compete in the Neuro Startup Challenge, an open innovation competition designed to bring promising brain-related inventions to market. The challenge has teams competing to commercialize 16 National Institutes of Health-conceived and -developed inventions involving therapeutics, diagnostics, prognostics, and medical devices for a range of brain diseases.

"We are thrilled about the high quality teams from 96 universities that have entered the challenge," said Dr. Merkin, Founder and CEO of the Heritage Provider Network (HPN). In addition to post-docs, PhDs, law and business students, team leaders have added venture capitalists, clinical research outsourcing organizations, law firms and serial entrepreneurs on their teams to increase their probability of success. Each team required a seasoned entrepreneur as well as two graduate students.

The challenge was launched in August 2014 by HPN in collaboration with NIH and the Center for Advancing Innovation. The teams selected to enter the challenge are from universities, research institutes, and hospitals from the United States and abroad. More than 20 percent of the teams are from outside the US. In addition to deliverables due at the end of each of the three phases of the challenge, teams will participate in 40 rigorous entrepreneurship and start-up training sessions.

The first phase of the challenge requires the teams to develop elevator speeches, a 350-word executive summary outlining potential commercial products and a company vision. These products will be posted online from January 12-16, 2015, to be voted upon by the public. 

Winners of the elevator speech phase will move on to compete in the second phase of the competition in which teams will develop a 10-page business plan and 20-minute "live" pitch presented to a panel of judges. Winners of the business plan phase will receive $2,500 per team provided by the Heritage Provider Network, and they will move on to phase three of the competition: the startup phase. The startup phase requires the remaining teams to launch their start-ups, including incorporating their business, applying for licenses, and raising seed funding.

"This is an excellent model for commercializing NIH technologies, while also providing real-world, hands-on experience in creating start-up businesses to all of the Challenge participants and creating the next generation of entrepreneurs," said Dr. Joseph M. Conrad III, NCI Technology Transfer Specialist and NIH Coordinator for the Neuro Startup Challenge. 

The Center for Advancing Innovation (CAI) evaluated the teams who wanted to enter the challenge on more than 40 criteria. "We wanted the teams that were accepted into the challenge to look like successful startups; therefore we rigorously evaluated the teams based on criteria that VCs, foundations and others would use to provide funding," said Rosemarie Truman, Founder and CEO of CAI. "Based on the extraordinary effort the teams have devoted so far, I expect novel, creative and differentiating approaches to the elevator speech phase and invite people who have an interest in neuroscience to vote and provide constructive feedback." 

For more information about the challenge and how to vote, please visit:


Heritage Provider Network, Inc. (HPN) is on the cutting edge of the accountable care model of healthcare delivery: coordinated, patient-doctor centric, integrated health care systems that represent the future of health care in the United States. HPN and its affiliates operate in California, New York and Arizona providing high quality, cost effective healthcare to more than 700,000 individuals.


The Center for Advancing Innovation (CAI) is a global public-private partnership non-profit focused on creating a virtuous circle of innovation and driving growth breakthroughs through novel, creative paradigms and models. CAI's mission is to accelerate and increase the volume of technology transfer, translational research, commercialization and entrepreneurship in various fields of research, including biomedical research, to make more research available to the world for educational and innovation purposes, improve the economy and positively impact world health. For more information about CAI, please visit


NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit: