With $145,000 in prizes for 2023, the DEBUT Challenge is open to undergraduate student teams working on innovative solutions to unmet health and clinical problems

The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) and VentureWell have come together to support and expand the Design by Biomedical Undergraduate Teams (DEBUT) Challenge, a competition that recognizes undergraduate excellence in biomedical design and innovation.

DEBUT challenges teams of students in undergraduate biomedical education to solve real-world problems in healthcare. Prizes of up to $20,000 will be awarded.

Strong DEBUT submissions will demonstrate a mastery of analytical and design skills and capabilities; the ability to manage the product development process; the ability to work effectively in teams; and technical communication skills.

Submissions will be judged on the following criteria:

  • Significance of the problem being addressed
  • Impact of proposed solution on potential users and clinical care
  • Innovative design
  • Working prototype

Additional prizes will be awarded to entries that also demonstrate:

  • Market potential and economic feasibility
  • Patentability

Each team will receive an Ideation and a Prototype Score. The Ideation Score will be based on the significance, impact, and innovative design criteria weighed equally. The Prototype Score will be based on the significance, impact, innovative design criteria, and working prototype criteria, weighed equally. The team’s final score will be the higher of the two. Prizes will be selected based on the final scores.


Ten DEBUT prizes (plus honorable mentions) will be awarded. Prize categories and amounts are listed below. For more details about each prize, please view the “Prizes” section of the application guidelines.

NIBIB-sponsored prizes include:

First prize: The Steven H. Krosnick Prize: $20,000
Second prize: $15,000
Third prize: $10,000
HIV/AIDS Prize: $15,000
Healthcare Technologies for Low-Resource Settings Prize: $15,000 located in the United States, U.S. territories or possessions.)
Technologies for Cancer Prevention, Diagnosis or Treatment Prize for $15,000
Rehabilitative and Assistive Technologies Prize for $15,000
New! Technologies to Empower Nurses in Community Settings Prize for $15,000

Additionally, five Honorable Mentions will be awarded with prizes of $1,000 each. All NIH prize winners will be offered commercialization training.

VentureWell-sponsored prizes include:

Venture prize: $15,000
Design Excellence prize: $5,000

These prizes are made possible with support from The Lemelson Foundation, in partnership with IEEE EMBS, the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), and the Council of Chairs of Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering Programs.

Ready to apply? Before you begin, please read the application guidelines.

Winning teams will be honored at an award ceremony during the Annual Meeting of the Biomedical Engineering Society, October 2023.

All applications must be submitted online and the application will open in early December.

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