On November 4, 2022 at the Samsung Executive Briefing Center, the 30 Mission Daybreak finalists presented their suicide prevention solutions at Demo Day, an in-person showcase event. 

At Demo Day, finalists had the opportunity to speak about their solutions with challenge judges and representatives from VA, VSOs, and policy institutes. The judges bring a diversity of perspectives and experiences — from Veterans and clinicians to social workers and technical experts. Amazon provided additional support for the event.

Following the finalist showcase, VA leadership delivered closing remarks to attendees. Dr. Matthew Miller, Executive Director, VA Suicide Prevention, Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, discussed how the challenge is inspiring unique suicide prevention solutions specifically designed for Veterans to drive real impact in addressing this health crisis. Following Dr. Miller’s remarks, Dr. Carolyn Clancy, Assistant Under Secretary for Health for Discovery, Education and Affiliate Networks, Veterans Health Administration, talked on the importance of addressing the multifaceted issue in innovative ways that can accelerate and scale suicide prevention solutions — and the high bar that Mission Daybreak has set for future programs. 

Members of the Mission Daybreak judging panel along with VA’s Innovation Ecosystem and Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention teams.

Photo credit to April Renae.

Advancing a diverse range of suicide prevention solutions for Veterans

As suicide prevention is a complex problem, Mission Daybreak is fostering solutions across a broad spectrum of focus areas. 23 of the finalist teams include a Veteran or Veteran family member, and their solutions range from early-stage concepts to market-ready tools and programs, across focus areas:

  • Four (13%) finalist solutions address lethal means safety.
  • Eight (27%) seek to integrate with or build off the Veterans Crisis Line.
  • Five (17%) utilize extended reality solutions.
  • Additional solution concepts use artificial intelligence and machine learning to better identify and care for Veterans in crisis.

Accelerating development through the Phase 2 virtual accelerator program

Leading up to Demo Day, finalists participated in a virtual accelerator program designed to help them develop ambitious but achievable roadmaps for prototyping, iteration, testing, and evaluation. The accelerator helped finalists strengthen their solutions to better reach and serve Veterans through:

  • Webinars, panels, and Q&A sessions. Virtual interactive learning modules from experts focused on topics relevant to solution refinement and planning.
  • Mentorship. Access to expert mentors to ask questions and receive feedback throughout the accelerator.
  • Technology partner support. Access to resources from partners including Microsoft and Amazon, such as platform credits and technical assistance.
  • Exclusive data sets. Access to custom synthetic VA datasets to strengthen and refine solutions.
  • Networking opportunities. Opportunities to collaborate, share expertise, and learn from fellow finalists.
  • Pitch prep. Individual coaching sessions from Amazon for finalists in preparation for Demo Day.

By partnering with private industry and nonprofit organizations that can provide further support and incentives, Mission Daybreak is fostering solutions capable of preventing suicide on a large scale.

What comes next: Mission Daybreak to award $11.5 million to winners

Mission Daybreak judges are evaluating finalists’ submissions according to the Phase 2 evaluation criteria. Phase 2 will award $11.5 million in prizes in December 2022: Two first-place winners will each receive $3 million, three second-place winners will each receive $1 million, and five third-place winners will each receive $500,000.

Following the challenge, VA may engage with select solutions through contracts, Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs), or other partnership vehicles.

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