NSF News

NSF announces 54 teams picked for the VITAL Prize Challenge Semi-Final Round

The U.S. National Science Foundation announced that 54 teams have been selected to advance to the Semi-Final Round of the Visionary Interdisciplinary Teams Advancing Learning (VITAL) Prize Challenge. The $6 million, multiphase challenge supports teams developing novel learning technologies with entrepreneurial training, customer discovery support, seed funding and mentorship to build K-12 learning innovations for adoption nationwide. The VITAL Prize Challenge is made possible through a partnership between NSF and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Schmidt Futures and the Walton Family Foundation and administered by the global education nonprofit Digital Promise.

The 54 teams moving on from the Discovery Round to the Semi-Final Round will receive an additional $20,000 in research and development funding to support the costs associated with early solution development. The teams chosen for the Semi-Final Round span the challenge's three technology tracks, including 17 teams developing learning technology concepts to advance mathematical literacy to promote a future STEM workforce; 15 teams advancing measures and tools that can dramatically increase the speed and utility of student learning information for educators, students and families; and 22 teams advancing other innovations to support diverse communities of K-12 student learners and teachers.

"NSF is thrilled to support these technologies and innovations that will impact diverse learners," said Erwin Gianchandani, NSF assistant director for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships. "The grassroots, multidisciplinary projects advancing to the Semi-Final Round today show great promise for transforming education through new ideas, tools, technologies and systems."

During the Semi-Final Round, teams and their educator partners will have approximately three months to make significant progress toward the design and feasibility of an early working prototype. A judging panel of field leading experts across educational research, practice and technology will review and select a subset of the teams to participate in the Final Round. These teams will further develop, validate and refine their prototypes for impact across the education marketplace. The top three leading concepts from each technology track will then participate in a live Pitch Session to a panel of committee members, NSF staff, sponsoring partner representatives and private sector investors in learning technologies. Ultimately, teams will earn first, second and third place in each technology track.

The VITAL Prize Challenge received over 300 submissions across the three K-12 technology translation tracks: Rapid and Continuous Learning Assessment; Mathematical Literacy to Promote a Future STEM Workforce; and Other Innovations in Translational Learning Technologies. A judging panel of over 50 leading experts across the domains of educational research, practice and technology as well as technology translation assisted in reviewing and ranking the submissions. In April, 100 multidisciplinary teams were chosen for the Discovery Round, during which they received entrepreneurial education and mentoring. 

To learn more about the VITAL Prize Challenge, visit https://new.nsf.gov/tip/vital-prize-challenge.