Startup competitions seeking addiction solutions

Steven Loeb · October 19, 2018 · Short URL:

They include FDA Innovation Challenge, The Opioid Hack-A-Thon 2018 and CODE4PA CODEATHON 2018

If you're a startup seeking opportunities to get funded, educated or connected, startup competitions are a great resource.

Vator has been holding its own competitions, using VatorX, to find and filter for the best startups. We've had some very successful and notable winners in the past that have gone on to raise big funding rounds including Thumbtack, DogVacay, Pokitdok, Grovo, Udemy and Apartment List, to name a few.

Anyone can list their program as VatorX is one of the most comprehensive listing guides to startup competitions, challenges, accelerators and programs. Click here to list your program!

As part of our weekly series, we'll look at top competitions with big cash prizes, as well as competitions that have teed up the most promising startups, to finding popular startup competitions you need to know about. 

Here are some of the startup competitions that are focused on addiction solutions:


Description: "As part of important efforts to address the epidemic of opioid misuse and abuse, the FDA launched an innovation challenge on May 31, 2018, to spur the development of medical devices, including diagnostic tests and digital health technologies (mobile medical applications) to help combat the opioid crisis and achieve the goal of preventing and treating opioid use disorder."

Prize: Applicants selected for the Challenge will work directly with the FDA to accelerate the development of and eventual review of marketing applications for innovative products, similar to what occurs under the Breakthrough Devices Program. In addition, Breakthrough Device designation will be granted to those devices that meet the statutory criteria for designation without submission of a separate application.

Previous winners: First competition



Description: "The Challenge goal is to support research ideas that would further an understanding of neurobiology as it relates to Substance Use Disorders (SUD) and that are intended to be the basis for the development of a new and potentially successful start-up."

Prize: The Challenge will offer up to ten awards of $10,000 each and provide mentorship support from NIDA entrepreneurship experts

Previous winners: Not specified


HRSA logo

Description: "Women who are pregnant or new mothers struggling with Opioid Use Disorder face a variety of barriers in obtaining safe and effective care and treatment. Women and families in rural and under-resourced communities are particularly affected."

Prize: The Addressing Opioid Use Disorder in Pregnant Women and New Moms Challenge will award $375,000 in prizes to support tech innovations to improve access to quality health care, including substance use disorder treatment, recovery, and support services for pregnant women with opioid use disorders, their infants, and families, especially those in rural and geographically isolated areas.

Previous winners: None yet


Description: "The University of California Institute for Prediction Technology (UCIPT) is hosting the Opioid West Hack-A-Thon+ 2018, featuring the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This event will bring event participants to the forefront of the tools and strategies being developed to help solve the opioid crisis, one of the leading public health crises in the US today."

Prize: Top prize of each track: $5,000 + mentorship + travel expenses for winner teams t meet with key stakeholders

Previous winners: Not specified


Description: "In October 2017, the opioid crisis was declared a national public health emergency. Its time academics, healthcare professionals, and government officials band together to combat this ever growing issue. The hackathon is a 3-day event in which cross-functional teams brainstorm an idea, create a prototype of concept, work through innovation process with help from our network of mentors, and then pitch your idea to a panel of judges."

Prize: Not specified

Previous winners: NarcanRN, Mile$tone, SafeCap


Description: "Can you create technology enabled tools to help support and connect individuals affected by opioid addiction?"



  • Semi-Finalists (5) - $5,000

5 semi-finalists will move forward to Phase 2. Upon another round of evaluation, 3 finalists from Phase 2 will move on to pitch their solutions live at the Health 2.0 2018 Fall Conference. 


  • First Place - $50,000
  • Second Place - $15,000
  • Third Place - $10,000

During Phase 2 of the innovation challenge, finalists will be awarded several promotional opportunities to showcase the top-ranking solutions and gain visibility in the health tech space. Opportunities include the following:

  • Interview to be published on The Health Care Blog, one of the most widely read blogs focused on health tech, with over 100,000 unique views per month
  • Promotion through the RWJF and Health 2.0 media channels
  • Exhibition pavilion at Health 2.0’s 12th Annual Conference in September 2018
  • Individual Pitch-Coaching Sessions with Health 2.0 to ensure teams are “stage ready” for the live pitch event
  • Opportunity to demo your technology in front of a captivated audience of 2,000 investors, provider organizations, health plans and members of the media at the Health 2.0 Annual Fall Conference. Following this one-hour event, the room will be available for post session networking.

Previous winners: Sober Grid


Description: "Code4PA is a codeathon that encourages learning, collaboration, growth, innovation, and fun among PA’s network of technical talent. Through a series of collaborative events, teams will utilize state and local data to generate ideas, designs, prototypes and/or apps to increase transparency and efficiency for public engagement with the government.

This year’s theme is to help Pennsylvania turn data into insights for the Opioid Epidemic."

Prize: Grand Prize of recognition with the Governor’s Office, photo and press release, video on website and lunch with key Commonwealth staff.

Special Prize categories will be recognized for:

SAP’s Veterans Challenge Use Case Award: SAP Prize Package

  • SAP Swag Bag
  • HarrisLogic Butterfly Board
  • 5 hours of business lifecycle coaching package with C-level HarrisLogic Executives
  • SAP Design Thinking Training

IBX Warm Handoff Use Case Award: Independence Blue Cross Foundation Prize Package

  • $1,000
  • Up to 80 hours of mentoring from Independence resources
  • 6 months of office space at the Independence Center for Health Care Innovation

Best Use of Esri Technology: Esri Prize Package

  • 1 year ArcGIS Developer subscription/license valued at $1500-$1800 per person for up to 5 people

Best Use of Datasets/API: Socrata Prize Package

Humanity Award: Scattergood Prize Package

Best Prototype/API: Harrisburg University Prize Package

Innovation Award: Cisco Prize Package

Best Use of a Use Case/Visualization: Tableau Prize Package

Best Team Award: Code4PA Prize Package

Previous winners: KnowPA


Description: "Ohio Invites Global Technology and Innovation Community to Advance Solutions to Curb Drug Abuse and Addiction"

Prize: $200,000

Previous winners: Apportis, Brave Technology Coop, DynamiCare Health, Innovative Health Solutions, InteraSolutions, Prapela,, Vuronyx Technologies

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