The New England Pediatric Device Consortium (NEPDC) has partnered with advocacy groups National Sleep Foundation and Graham’s Foundation, to create a “Target Challenge” grant opportunity that supports device development and commercialization of novel technologies that can improve diagnosis and detection of pediatric apnea.

“Each year, NEPDC sponsors Target Challenges to encourage innovation and new ideas in areas specifically identified as important ‘unmet needs’ for children,” says Ann-Christine Duhaime, MD, co-director of NEPDC, in a release.Richard Greenwald, co-director of NEPDC, says, “Our Target Challenge approach helps innovators focus on problems for which solutions will have a major impact on children’s lives, such as improving the detection and management of apnea associated with a variety of pediatric conditions.”

Although apnea monitors are routinely used in clinical settings and may be prescribed for in home use, existing commercially available devices have several practical and technical limitations that limit their effectiveness and utility, particularly when used for child care, the NEPDC states. Due to the prevalence of pediatric apneic events and their potential life-threatening significance, improvements are needed. Fortunately, several promising new advances in technology and sensing methods have emerged, offering an opportunity for innovators and care providers to come together and address this important issue.

“Devices designed specifically for accurate sleep measurement in infants and babies are critical not only to diagnostic integrity, but to parent peace of mind,” says David M. Cloud, CEO of the National Sleep Foundation. “Fortunately, we are seeing tremendous energy and innovation in smaller sensors for this special population. We are proud to be working with NEPDC on the Target Challenge and look forward to the creation of new technologies.”

Following an open call for device solutions, a panel of clinicians, entrepreneurs, and technologists from the three partnering organizations will evaluate submissions based on their likelihood to positively impact pediatric care, technical feasibility, and commercialization potential. The Target Challenge will provide up to 200 hours of in-kind service to each grant awardee and will distribute up to $60,000. Assistance from NEPDC’s network of engineers, researchers, clinicians, and entrepreneurs covers all aspects of commercialization, including technical, clinical, regulatory, and business support.

“Prescribed at home monitors should provide important peace of mind for parents along with data that can help them care for their preemies, but it’s more common that these devices keep parents frazzled and sleep deprived thanks to repeated false alarms,” says Nick Hall, founder and president of Graham’s Foundation, which empowers parents of premature babies through support, advocacy, and research to improve outcomes for their preemies and themselves. “We know there is a real need for improvements to monitor technology, and we’re excited that our community of parents will be helping to find a more effective solution for parents caring for preemies at home.”

Those interested in submitting medical device concepts must first register on-line and submit abstracts by August 1, 2015. Following abstract review, full proposals will be selected by invitation only through August 10, 2015.