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APPLY FOR

BRAINSTORM NEUROSCIENCE
PITCH COMPETITION™

about our funding

Apply BrainStorm Neuroscience Pitch Competition is the vehicle used by Mind Science to fund early-career researchers teamed with senior primary investigators, working on pilot studies to help them obtain grants for further research, with an additional element of a pitch video designed to incentivize the building of skills in translating complex neuroscience for a general audience.

We believe providing opportunities for early-career scientists to fund their work, and hone their communications skills is critical to the advancement of science.

BrainStorm is also a powerful educational opportunity for our audience of lay people as they learn – directly from researchers during their pitches – the intricacies of brain function, and how their research projects can harness the power of the brain to improve treatment of neurological deficits as well as optimize the human experience.

Specifically, Mind Science seeks to fund research that will lead to significant advancements in the science of consciousness and/or improvements in the health and well-being of humankind. Fields of inquiry include, but are not limited to: neuroscience, cognitive science, psychology, resiliency, philosophy, biology, artificial intelligence, sleep and dream research, creativity, education, neuro-ethics, and experiential/subjective studies.

For further information on funding opportunities, please contact Mindy Cohen at mcohen@mindscience.org.

research funding opportunities

apply for funding

BACKGROUND

About Mind Science
Mind Science has always sought to leverage its resources to pursue what our founder Tom Slick called the “vast potential of the human mind”, using the scientific method. We believe the study of human consciousness that leads to improvements in the health and well-being of humankind is the best way to honor his intent. We are committed to finding novel ways in which to do so, funding research on the neuroscience of consciousness since 2004.

We believe we can have the biggest impact on the field of consciousness studies with a focus on contributing to the pipeline of researchers, beginning with early-career neuroscientists. We strongly believe providing opportunities for young scientists to fund their work and hone their communications skills is critical to the advancement of science.

about brainstorm neuroscience pitch competition

 
We have chosen the “pitch” model for research funding because of its audience participation format, which emphasizes the importance of the pitch presenter’s excellent communication of their work to a lay audience. There are two rounds of video pitches: semi-finalists will create a 5–7-minute video to be evaluated by the Mind Science Scientific Advisory and Education Committees, alongside peer review results in order to determine 3 finalists. Finalists are guaranteed $30,000 in funding. Finalists will then create a 5-7 minute pitch video for online voting by the general public to determine the recipient of an additional $10,000 Audience Choice award. For a look at previous BrainStorm Competitions please click here.

The Competition has a specific focus on funding for early-career researchers teamed with senior primary investigators, working on pilot studies to help them obtain grants for further research, with an additional strategic goal designed to incentivize the building of skills in translating complex neuroscience for a general audience. We firmly believe that if a scientist can answer the “so what” question about their work, the layperson’s scientific literacy is increased, enabling a direct connection between your research and the potential for solutions to some of the most intractable problems facing our species.

Because of the strategic goals for BrainStorm, proposals MUST include the participation of an early career scientist (undergraduate, graduate student, post-doc), who will be expected to submit the proposal and present in the research team’s final pre-recorded pitch for the general public who will cast votes online.

APPLICATION PROCESS

Mind Science has issued an open RFP for research proposals focused on original research, or the meaningful compilation and interpretation of existing research data, resulting in significant advancements in the science of consciousness and/or improvements in the health and well-being of humankind.

Fields of inquiry include, but are not limited to: neuroscience, cognitive science, psychology, resiliency, philosophy, biology, artificial intelligence, sleep and dream research, creativity, education, neuro-ethics, and experiential/subjective studies.

Formal submissions are initially reviewed by the Mind Science Scientific Advisory Committee to determine scientific merit and fit for our funding priorities. Proposals advancing to the second round will be sent for formal peer review, and the research team will be asked to submit a short video presentation (5-7 minutes) by the early-career member of your team that the Mind Science Scientific Advisory and Education Committees will evaluate to assess the presenter’s skills in verbally translating their work for a layperson. This video does not need to be highly produced, as the Committee will grade it on content and the ability to communicate your work to a lay audience – not the production value.

Proposals reaching the finalist stage will receive feedback on presentations and coaching resources for the final pre-recorded pitch video. The final pitch will be a 5-7 minute (7-minute limit strictly enforced) pre-recorded video, which can include up to 7 slides. The winner of the Audience Choice award will be announced on October 20, 2022. Excellent, creative storytelling is key to engaging voters.

FORMAL PROPOSAL requirements

 Project Title for the Lay Public, Investigators, Institution and Credentials
Project title for the lay public (to help non-scientists understand what your project is about), names of the Principal Investigator(s) and Co-investigator(s), with institutional affiliation, contact info and a CV for each investigator. (No page limit) In addition, in the event your proposal is chosen as a finalist, we will need a summary of your credentials including links for biographical websites, social media, awards won, and previous talks given to use in Mind Science communications. (One paragraph)

Project Summary for the Lay Public
Mind Science has a philanthropic goal to increase the scientific literacy of the lay public and therefore requests a description of the proposed research that succinctly states the major aspects of the proposed project in a way that is understandable by a variety of audiences. In short, write your project summary as if you were explaining it to 8th graders. Avoid jargon. It should not exceed 2-3 concise paragraphs. In the event the proposal makes it to the final round, this summary will be used in Mind Science communications. It is critical that the description should directly answer the “So What” question: why is your research important? In explaining your idea, and the problem you are trying to solve, how does it relate to consciousness and/or how will your unique approach lead to improvements to the health and well-being of humankind? (1/2 page)

Research Strategy
Six-nine page description of the proposed research, in accordance with the NIH formatting guidelines. If your project includes human subjects please include a contingency plan in case of delays due to Covid-19 restrictions. This section should include: Specific Aims (1 page), Significance/Background (1 to 2 pages), Innovation (1/2 to 1 page), Approach (3 to 4 pages), Risk and Limitations (1/2 page), and Timeline (1/4 page).

References
References should be listed in order of appearance. (No page limit)

Budget and Justification
The purpose of this section is to present and justify expenses required to achieve the project aims and objectives, and to indicate other significant sources of funding. The budget is $30,000, scalable to $40,000. Include what you will add to your project to make it more robust if you win the Audience Choice award of $10,000. (One page limit)

Deliverable Product
Statement of deliverable product (i.e. publishable article, data as the basis for a publishable book, pilot data for subsequent funding by NIH, NIMH, or similar funding entities, etc.). (1/2 page limit)

Evaluation Criteria
Finalists will be determined following initial review by the Mind Science Scientific Advisory Committee, subsequent rigorous peer review, and a final decision by the Mind Science Scientific Advisory and Education Committees. Final determination of the Audience Choice award of an additional $10,000 (for a total of $40,000 in funding) will be determined following online voting by the general public for the pre-recorded online pitches. You will be evaluated on how clearly you communicate your work to a lay audience, as BrainStorm is focused on scientific communication. Quality, originality, and relevance to the advancement of the science of consciousness and/or improvement of the health and well-being of humankind will be key factors in the evaluation process. It is important to note that proposals will be reviewed by both scientific and non-scientific professionals. Awards will be reviewed free of bias. Each section of the proposal will be scored based on the NIH scoring system. All proposals and results of peer and science committee review will be kept confidential. The content of your final pre-recorded pitch video presentation, however, will be presented online.

Use of Funds and Restrictions
Research funds are restricted to actual costs, with no more than 5% indirect costs. Actual costs may include salaries for staff/assistants and salary supplements for Co-Investigators. Under special circumstances related to the goals of the research, salary supplement for Principal Investigators may also be appropriate.

Period of Performance
The period of performance (term of the award) is 12 months, beginning with the first of the month following the date of award. We realize, especially during the current pandemic, that circumstances may arise which delay previously anticipated progress. In this case, awardees are encouraged to communicate with Mind Science as soon as possible to make alternate arrangements satisfactory to the researcher and Mind Science.

Submission
Completed proposals should be submitted electronically through the Good Grants portal: https://brainstormnpc.grantplatform.com by 11:59 pm (CDT/GMT -5) on Monday, May 9, 2022. If you have any questions, please contact Mindy Cohen, Program and Communications Director, at mcohen@mindscience.org or 210.821.6094 x201. No email submissions will be accepted. Submission deadlines are firm.

Checklist of proposal requirements, in order
Project Title for the Lay Public, Investigators, Institution, and Credentials (No page limit)
      Project Title for the Lay Public
      Names of the Principal Investigator(s) and Co-investigator(s)
      Institutional Affiliation
      Contact Information
      CV for each investigator
Project Summary for the Lay Public (1/2 page)
Research Strategy (not to exceed 9 pages total)
     Specific Aims (1 page)
     Significance/Background (1 to 2 pages)
     Innovation (1/2 to 1 page)
     Approach (3 to 4 pages)
     Risk and Limitations (1/2 page)
     Timeline (1/4 page)
References (No page Limit)
Budget and Justification (One page limit)
Deliverable Product (1/2 page limit)

Submission and Awards Calendar
RFP issued – March 15, 2022
Submission deadline – May 9, 2022 11:59 pm (CDT/GMT -5)
Video round semi-finalists notified – Early June 2022
Peer Review – June and July 2022
Semi-finalist video submission deadline – July 27, 2022 11:59 pm (CDT/GMT -5)
Finalists announced – Late August 2022
Finalist video pitch coaching – September 2022
Finalist video submission deadline – October 3, 2022 11:59 pm (CDT/GMT -5)
General public online voting for pitch videos – October 10 – October 17, 2022
BrainStorm Neuroscience Pitch Competition Award Ceremony – October 20, 2022 7:00 pm (CDT/GMT -5)

HELPFUL HINTS

Finalists must be able to arrive in San Antonio on Tuesday, October 18, 2022. Travel, meals, and accommodations will be provided for you. Please note: Flights out of San Antonio do not allow for departure the same day as BrainStorm, so please anticipate departing on Thursday, October 20, 2022.

If you are a finalist, you will be invited to and expected to participate in media outreach in advance of a donor reception during your stay in San Antonio.

Speakers’ final presentations will be posted on our social media platforms and YouTube channel. Please take care when deciding what pieces of your story you want to share if you have proprietary information.

Speakers may not have a commercial agenda. Your project could result in a product to be developed but we don’t want solely product pitches.

No political or religious agenda.

In semi-finalist and finalist videos, speakers can include slides to supplement, but no more than 7, containing primarily pictures, easily understood graphics or video and judicious use of text.

Focus more time and energy on delivery, telling your story, and engaging the audience. Avoid jargon and data-heavy slides.

Use emotion to drive your story. A little humor goes a long way. If applicable, tell a story (surprising, funny, or a unique anecdote) personalizing your journey.

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