Twelve weeks to design the artificial intelligence (AI) tools of the future. That’s what VA’s National Artificial Intelligence Institute (NAII), in partnership with Veterans Health Administration Innovation Ecosystem’s (VHA IE) Care & Transformational Initiatives (CTI) portfolio, is giving 12 weeks to innovative organizations around the country to develop solutions for some of VA’s most pressing problems through the NAII Artificial Intelligence Tech Sprint.

This year’s AI Tech Sprint is focusing on how VA can identify, reach, and support Veterans outside of the VHA healthcare system.

The AI Tech Sprint began January 4, after 60 applications from the private sector and academia were received through Challenge.gov. Those 60 applications were evaluated and selectively trimmed down to 40 teams and then organized into four cohorts based on specific topics: Mental Health, Oncology, Imaging, and General Health Care. Since then, the teams have been hard at work developing their AI-driven innovations and will reveal their solutions when the Tech Sprint culminates in a Demo Day on April 2, 2021.

“The AI Tech Sprint gives VA a way to quickly and effectively collaborate with outside partners to develop new and advanced techniques to allow VA to better reach those Veterans who are outside the system but may be struggling. CTI is excited to partner with NAII on this incredible work that will change and save Veteran lives,” said Amanda Purnell, Ph.D., emerging tech data specialist, Care and Transformational Initiatives.

Developing solutions to impact Veteran lives

The AI Tech Sprint is not just for brainstorming, but to develop concrete solutions that will impact Veteran lives. To that end, the competition awards a grand total of $100,000 in cash prizes (First place: $50,000, Second place: $25,000, Third place: $10,000, Three honorable mention/unique commendations: $5,000 each) to help the winning teams implement their ideas. Alongside that monetary support comes the ability to work closely with VA on their projects, to include providing early access to a novel synthetic data set and contact with experts and researchers that can help teams expand and build out their AI concepts. If the project is deemed a success from there, the team will be matched and introduced to a relevant outside agency or even partner directly with VA to pilot and implement its AI innovation.

Tech sprints are a common tool used by the tech industry to quickly develop new practices, tools, and products. The NAII AI Tech Sprint, now in its second year, is successfully doing the same for VA and the Veterans they serve. Stay tuned to learn more about the incredible AI concepts coming out of this year’s event.


Allison Amrhein is the director of operations for the VHA Innovators Network and communications lead for the VHA Innovation Ecosystem.

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Published on Mar. 5, 2021

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One Comment

  1. Larry Russ March 15, 2021 at 10:47 am

    The VA is a criminal organization that targets conservative Veterans. First by fabricating mental illness and then denying healthcare

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