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Got a brain-related invention? NIH wants you

The search is on to find the brainiest entrepreneurs in the world.

The Neuro Startup Challenge is an international competition that asks teams of graduate-level students and experienced entrepreneurs to create a plan for bringing promising brain-related inventions to market.

The goal is to create new startup companies that could help the National Institutes of Health commercialize its research.

The challenge was launched in August by the NIH in collaboration with the Heritage Provider Network (a network of accountable-care health care providers) and the Center for Advancing Innovation, a nonprofit focused on accelerating research and commercialization.

Each team in the challenge will choose to focus on one of 16 unlicensed brain-related inventions that were conceived and developed by researchers at the NIH. The Center for Advancing Innovation selected those 16 from the NIH’s portfolio because they were identified as having the greatest marketable potential.

The teams will then progress through a variety of rounds, each designed to mirror the stages of commercializing an invention.

The NIH inventions that are eligible for the challenge include therapeutics, diagnostic tools, medical devices and other brain-related products that address life-threatening, rare or debilitating conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.

The inventions all attempt to cure or prevent neurological disorders.

Each team must include representative from multiple disciplines. At least one team member must have business experience, such as an MBA student or someone in the business community.

One team member must have medical or scientific experience, such as a med school student or someone working in the life sciences industry. There also must be a “seasoned entrepreneur” — someone with experience raising capital and founding a startup in the life sciences, biomedical or health information technology sectors.

One individual may satisfy multiple criteria.

In January, winners (five teams per invention) will be selected to move on to the second phase of the challenge: creating a detailed business plan and making a live pitch in front of a panel of judges.

Each team will receive $2,500 to put toward the next round. Funding is provided by the Heritage Provider Network and the Center for Advancing Innovation.

Marylanders are well-represented on the judging panel, which is comprised of more than 120 accomplished professionals from across the globe. About a dozen of them are from Maryland-based companies, universities, research institutions or other organizations.

“We all have the common goal of ensuring that discoveries made at NIH are ‘translated’ when the scientific advances have the potential to benefit the public and have been well vetted,” said Story Landis, director of the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, in a statement.

The deadline to enter the challenge — via the website — is Nov. 31.

About Alissa Gulin

Alissa Gulin covers health care, education and general business at The Daily Record.