Home > NEI Challenge to Identify Audacious Goals in Vision Research and Blindness Rehabilitation > Challenge to Identify Audacious Goals in Vision Research and Blindness, FAQs

Challenge to Identify Audacious Goals in Vision Research and Blindness, FAQs

General Questions

  • What is the Audacious Goals Initiative? The Audacious Goals Initiative is an effort by the National Eye Institute to promote innovation in vision research. In support of the initiative, the NEI is challenging NIH staff, the broader scientific community, and the general public to submit a one-page description of an audacious goal that could potentially drive innovation in vision research for the next decade and beyond. To attract participation, the NEI has launched a prize competition called the NEI Challenge to Identify Audacious Goals in Vision Research and Blindness Rehabilitation. The most compelling audacious goals–as determined by panels of relevant subject matter experts–will be discussed and considered at the NEI Audacious Goals Development Meeting. The final set of audacious goals, developed at the meeting, will be used to inform and guide research priorities for the NEI and other vision research organizations.
  • Why does NEI want to identify a set of audacious goals? NEI is identifying audacious goals to enhance its strategic planning. Identifying audacious goals will encourage broad, long-term thinking beyond the current needs and opportunities that are identified in more traditional planning. The initiative will help establish a vision research agenda that will shape the breadth and direction of the eye and vision research supported by the NEI and other organizations in the U.S. and abroad.
  • What is an Audacious Goal? If attained, an audacious goal would fundamentally change vision research or vision care. We are looking for bold, innovative ideas from vision researchers and the greater community of scientists, clinicians, and engineers to address the NEI mission. Goals should have a broad impact and be considered reachable in about 10 years.
  • What other activities does the NEI conduct regarding planning? Since its formation over 40 years ago, the NEI has enlisted experts every five to seven years to assess recent progress and outline current needs and opportunities. The most recent report, Vision Research: Needs, Gaps, and Opportunities, represents input from more than 300 experts in vision research and blindness rehabilitation.
  • How does the identification of Audacious Goals relate to the recently published document Needs, Gaps, and Opportunities? This document reflects the current state of vision science. It is the latest in a series of national plans the NEI has issued about every five years and represents input from more than 300 experts in vision research and blindness rehabilitation. This audacious goals initiative enhances NEI strategic planning by gathering input from across the full spectrum of medicine, science, and engineering with a longer term perspective.
  • Why are you asking for long-term goals? The NEI is challenging vision researchers, the biomedical community, and the public to think about what may be possible rather than what specifically can be done now or what the next set of experiments in one lab might be. The goals will not be attainable now. There are barriers that must be overcome that will require attention and work by several individuals and groups in multiple disciplines over 5, 10 or maybe 15 years. Working toward the goals will necessitate overcoming some readily identifiable barriers, and will undoubtedly reveal new, unanticipated obstacles along the way.
  • How will NEI identify the set of audacious goals? We are reaching out as broadly as possible to gather a set of plausible ideas for discussion at the NEI Audacious Goals Development Meeting in February, 2013 (www.nei.nih.gov/Audacious). After that meeting, the NEI and its National Advisory Eye Council will finalize and publish a set of the most compelling audacious goals.
  • Why is NEI using a competition to award cash prizes for audacious ideas? The challenge authority provides us with a new tool, not only to stimulate vision researchers to think differently, but to reach out more broadly to individuals in disciplines that do not typically participate in our planning and research. We expect the challenge will attract new people with new perspectives.
  • Will NEI hold an NEI Challenge prize competition every year? No. The NEI Challenge focuses on long-range goals of about 10 years and beyond.


  • Who is eligible to compete in the NEI Challenge? Can individuals not eligible to receive a prize still submit ideas? The challenge is open to all U.S. citizens and permanent residents except for NIH employees (see www.nei.nih.gov/challenge/howtoenter). Ineligible individuals cannot compete in this challenge but are welcome to submit ideas for audacious goals to the NEI by email (for instructions, see www.nei.nih.gov/Audacious)
  • Is research experience required to submit a goal? Anyone who meets the eligibility criteria can submit ideas to the challenge. There is no restriction regarding research experience.

Submitting an Entry

  • Can I submit more than one goal? Yes, as long as they are unique goals, and not restatements of the same goal.
  • Do I need to submit through my institution’s grants and contracts office? No. Submissions are by individuals, not institutions.
  • Can more than one person submit together? We encourage discussions and team submissions. However, each cash prize and associated travel funds can only be awarded to an individual. Teams will have to pick a representative.
  • Can I include figures/images/charts in my submission? No.
  • Can I cite publications or discussions with colleagues in my submission? Please do not include any identifying information in your entry, as we will de-identify submissions during judging.

Judging Process

  • How will entries be judged? Entries will be de-identified and judged by a panel of experts in vision research and related disciplines (see www.nei.nih.gov/challenge/selectionofwinners).
  • What criteria will judges use to evaluate submissions? Judges will use the following criteria to rate submissions:

    i. Relevance. Is the goal relevant to the NEI mission?
    ii. Audaciousness. Is the goal bold, daring, unconventional, or exceptionally innovative?
    iii. Scope. Is the goal broad and/or far-reaching?
    iv. Impact. Will attainment of the goal have a powerful influence on any aspect of the NEI mission?
    v. Feasibility. Are obstacles and barriers identified that must be overcome so that the goal is potentially achievable over the longer term such as 5-10 years or beyond?

  • How will NEI handle multiple entries on the same topic? The judges will determine the best entries based on the criteria outlined for the challenge even if several are submitted in the same area. Once selected, the NEI may consider inviting authors of similar ideas to the NEI Audacious Goals Development Meeting (www.nei.nih.gov/Audacious).
  • Will there be various prize categories (e.g., research, efficiency/productivity improvement etc.)? No.
  • Will the judging process be open to the public/press? The initial judging process is confidential. To avoid bias, all entries will be de-identified prior to review.
  • Is there a process to appeal results? No, the selection by the judges is final. De-identified entries will be evaluated by a panel of impartial, knowledgeable judges.
  • How many prizes will be awarded? NEI will award up to 20 prizes.
  • Once selected what will happen to the winning ideas? Winners will be notified and invited to participate in the NEI AG Development Meeting, which will take place February 24-26, 2013, near Washington, D.C. The winning entries will be posted on the NEI website.


  • Will the presentations at the AG Development Meeting be open to the public? We anticipate that a public webcast will be available during the plenary sessions. However, small group discussions of the Audacious Goals at the meeting will not be webcast.
  • Can an individual win multiple prizes? Yes. However, an individual can only receive up to $2,000 for travel expenses.
  • Can winning contestants claim prize money even if they cannot attend the NEI Audacious Goals Development Meeting? Yes, but winners are expected to lead discussions of their idea at the meeting. NEI will provide up to $2,000 in travel expenses for each winner.
  • If winners are not available to present their ideas at the meeting, who will present those ideas? We expect that winners will be enthusiastic to participate and lead discussions of their idea. If not able to attend, we will work with them to select a discussion leader.
  • To what extent will winning contestants be involved in activities designed to meet the goal? Once the goals are identified, all, including winners, are encouraged to work to address the challenges of these goals. These goals likely will not be addressed by work on a single project or a single laboratory.
  • Will winners receive additional compensation if their ideas make it to the final set of audacious goals? The NEI will not provide any compensation beyond the NEI Challenge cash prize and travel expenses. Contestants must agree that a winning entry submitted to the NEI Challenge may be discussed, modified, further developed, or combined with others at the NEI Audacious Goals Development Meeting. There is no ownership of the winning entries that are eventually identified as audacious goals.

Audacious Goals Development Meeting

  • Will the NEI Audacious Goals Development Meeting be open to the public? The meeting will be open to the public using an interactive videoconference (via the internet). Invited experts will participate in small group discussions of the Audacious Goals at the meeting. For additional information, visit (www.nei.nih.gov/Audacious)
  • How are ideas being gathered? There are two primary sources for ideas - either a prize competition, the NEI Challenge to identify Audacious Goals in Vision Research and Blindness Rehabilitation, or for those ineligible to compete in the competition, we are asking for ideas by email (see www.nei.nih.gov/Audacious to determine eligibility).
  • Once identified, how will NEI implement audacious goals? The NEI has a number of tools at its disposal to spur researchers in the U.S. and abroad to work toward addressing the goals. These include a variety of mechanisms for conducting and supporting research, research networks, and training.
Last Reviewed: 
October 2012