NSF announces 100 teams advancing to the VITAL Prize Challenge Discovery Round

The U.S. National Science Foundation announced that 100 multidisciplinary teams have advanced to the "Discovery Round" of the Visionary Interdisciplinary Teams Advancing Learning, or VITAL, Prize Challenge, a multiphase challenge supporting teams developing novel learning technologies with entrepreneurial training, customer discovery support, seed funding and mentorship to build K-12 learning innovations at speed and scale for adoption nationwide.

The teams, ranging from two to 10 members each, will embark on the first phase of a process to advance use-inspired innovations to equitably improve learning outcomes for all students and broaden learner engagement, particularly for students from historically marginalized groups. During the Discovery Round, these teams will receive training from NSF's Innovation Corps (I-Corps™) program to support them through customer discovery activities, entrepreneurial education and mentoring, with the goal of reducing the time it takes to bring technologies from the laboratory to the marketplace.

"The VITAL Prize Challenge will empower teams to quickly test and innovate solutions that could truly make a transformational impact," said Erwin Gianchandani, NSF assistant director for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships. "These projects represent the promise of infusing the education and learning landscape with new tools and technologies to support diverse learners nationwide."

The VITAL Prize Challenge, a $6 million prize challenge 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, 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.

Over the course of the challenge, participating teams will have the chance to receive over $70,000 in development and commercialization support and up to $250,000 in cash prizes per team. They will be supported through training, coaching, resources and funding to develop their marketable educational technology prototype and to simultaneously build capacities in entrepreneurship, research-based design, safeguarding learner privacy, learner variability, and inclusion and equity in the education marketplace.

Following the Discovery Round, several teams will advance to the Semi-Final Round, where they will partner with an educational mentor for prototype design, feasibility testing and initial development activities. In the Final Round, a subset of these teams will further prototype development and validation, culminating with a live Pitch Session to a panel of committee members, NSF staff, sponsoring partner representatives and private sector investors in learning technologies.

Learn more about the VITAL Prize Challenge at https://beta.nsf.gov/tip/vital-prize-challenge.