Using Challenges to Find Solutions
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What is a Challenge Competition?
A challenge competition poses a problem or question to the public and requests a practical solution; rewards are offered for solutions that meet the criteria set out by the sponsoring agency. Challenges can serve as an alternative to the traditional grant-making process and a means to advance the cutting edge of research.
Why Use Challenges?
When used effectively, challenges can save an agency money (an agency pays only for successful solutions) and might produce solutions to problems that have proven difficult to solve through other means. Like other means of supporting research, they have the potential to advance the state of knowledge and technology or streamline the delivery of market-ready solutions.
Challenges at NIJ
Before posting a challenge, NIJ addresses several key issues to ensure that a challenge is the right vehicle to support a research and development effort. These include clearly defining the problem or research question to be addressed, identifying the target audience of potential participants, defining the criteria and processes for judging and selecting challenge winners, and anticipating any intellectual property concerns.
NIJ has issued a number of challenges. Select a title below to learn more.
NIJ has no open Challenges. Visit
Challenge.gov to see a full list of available Challenges from across the government.
Crime Forecasting Challenge
- Initial data released: September 1, 2016
- Submission period was open from February 22-28, 2017
- We anticipate announcing winners on June 30, 2017
Gun Safety Technology Challenge
- Stage 1 submission period: October 7, 2015-January 5, 2016
- Stage 2 submissions were invited on February 12, 2016.
- Stage 3 submissions will be by invitation only.
This Challenge was closed before testing in stage 2 and no winners were selected.
Randomized Controlled Trial Challenge in Criminal Justice Agencies
- Submission period: July 30, 2014-Jan. 5, 2016
This challenge closed without any award made.
Data Visualization Challenge: Using Data to Improve Justice
- Phase I submission period: Oct. 15, 2014-Jan. 30, 2015
- Phase II submission period: May 4, 2015-Aug. 3, 2015 (Note: This challenge closed without any award made
SORNA Challenge: Developing Strategies to Measure the Implementation Costs and Public Safety Benefits of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA)
- Submission period: July 1, 2013-Oct. 31, 2013 (Note: This challenge closed without any award made.)
Ultra-High Speed Apps: Using Current Technology to Improve Criminal Justice Operations
- Phase I submission period: Sept. 27, 2013-Feb. 14, 2014
- Phase II submission period: May 9, 2014-Oct. 15, 2014
- Winners announced: July 20, 2015
Delivering Mission Critical Voice Communications for Law Enforcement and Public Safety Responders in the COTS LTE Environment
- Phase I submission period: Sept. 20, 2013-Feb. 14, 2014
- Phase II submission period: Sept. 8, 2014-Nov. 20, 2014
Body Armor Challenge: How Long Does Body Armor Really Last?
- Phase I submission period: Sept. 14, 2012-Dec. 14, 2012
- Phase II submission period: March 16, 2013-May 16, 2013
Date Modified: December 21, 2016