Scope and vision

What is the main focus of the challenge?

Mission Daybreak is part of VA’s 10-year strategy to end Veteran suicide through a comprehensive, public health approach; the challenge aims to create an ecosystem of support for innovators and solutions that can advance this goal. Learn more about Mission Daybreak.

Who should solutions be designed for? 

To be effective, prevention solutions must meet individuals where they are, rather than take a one-size-fits-all approach. Solutions should target a specific Veteran population group or experience.

How is Mission Daybreak defining “Veteran”?

Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations defines a veteran as “a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable.” The challenge aims to serve all those who have served, regardless of their enrollment status or eligibility with VA.

Is this a one-time challenge, or are subsequent challenges planned?

At this time, VA only plans to run Phases 1 and 2 of Mission Daybreak.

What types of solutions is Mission Daybreak looking for?

Suicide has no single cause, and no single strategy can end Veteran suicide. Entrants are encouraged to submit any solutions they believe can directly or indirectly address Veteran suicide, particularly ones that address the challenge focus areas.

What does a successful solution look like?

To be effective, prevention solutions must meet individuals where they are, rather than take a one-size-fits-all approach. Innovators should demonstrate how their solutions meet each of the six evaluation criteria. Some solvers will have market-ready solutions, while others will have early concepts —the quality of the idea and potential for viability is more critical than present-day maturity.

What is the difference between Phase 1 and Phase 2?

Phase 1 is open to all eligible solvers to submit detailed concepts. Only the 30 finalist teams will advance to Phase 2, where they will build on their solutions in an eight-week virtual accelerator program. Phase 2 will conclude with an in-person Demo Day in November 2022.


For full eligibility guidelines, please review the rules, terms, and conditions

Mission Daybreak is a prize competition sponsored by VA under the authority of section 24 of the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980 (15 U.S.C. 3719), as amended by the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 (Pub. L. 111–358), hereinafter referred to as “COMPETES Act.”

Who is eligible to enter Mission Daybreak?

Pursuant to the COMPETES Act, at the time of entry, the individual entrant or team lead must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident of the United States or its territories. In the case of a private entity, the business shall be incorporated in and maintain a place of business in the United States or its territories. 

Can non-United States citizens be a member of or contribute to my team?

The primary entrant must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, or in the case of entities, must be headquartered in the U.S. Other team members do not need to be in the U.S. Any listed team members cannot be a resident or citizen of any U.S. embargoed countries.

Can VA employees enter Mission Daybreak?

Pursuant to the COMPETES Act, VA employees are not eligible to submit a solution or be part of a team. All other federal employees should consult with their respective ethics offices. Past VA employees who are not ineligible for any other reason stated in the rules, terms and conditions are eligible to enter. 

VA employees may support the challenge by serving on the Phase 1 review panel. To ensure challenge submissions are assessed by a diverse range of experts, Mission Daybreak invites leaders in suicide prevention, data analytics, Veteran advocacy, and community-based mental health to join the expert review panel. The review panel will assess submissions according to Phase 1 evaluation criteria and advance leading concepts to a multidisciplinary judging panel. 

Complete the Mission Daybreak review panel form to express interest. Panel members should be available from June 30 to July 22, and will be asked to assess up to seven concept papers of 10 pages or less.

Can federal and state employees enter Mission Daybreak?

A federal entity or federal employee may not act within the scope of their employment or work on their submission during assigned duty hours. Federal grantees may not use federal funds to develop submissions unless consistent with the purpose of their grant award. All non-VA federal and state employees must consult with their agency Ethics Official to determine whether the federal ethics rules will limit or prohibit the acceptance of a COMPETES Act prize.

I am supporting Mission Daybreak as a member of the review panel, judging panel, or as part of the accelerator. Am I eligible to enter?

Review panelists, judges, and partners or mentors in the Phase 2 accelerator are not eligible to enter or support solutions as a team member. 

I have already submitted or am planning to submit my solution to another grant or prize competition. Is it still eligible to submit to Mission Daybreak?

Yes, although other grants and competitions may restrict the usage of funds; check with other programs to see if restrictions apply. 

I have already implemented my solution. Is it still eligible to submit to Mission Daybreak?

Yes, solutions at any stage of development can be submitted.

Resources and prizes

In writing my concept paper, can I assume I (or the implementer) will have access to certain types of data?

Yes, the concept paper can and should detail the needed resources for viability.

Beyond the Phase 1 webinars, is there an opportunity to talk with specific VA researchers before the deadline to talk about potential data integration? 

Mission Daybreak will not provide one-on-one consultations during Phase 1. Entrants should identify needs related to data or other resources in their submissions. 

What is the prize pool for Mission Daybreak? What is non-dilutive funding?

The Mission Daybreak prize pool is $20 million throughout Phases 1 and 2. Non-dilutive funding means that the challenge will not take any equity or ownership in solutions. 

How are we required to use prize money?

There are no restrictions on the usage of funds.

Are prizes taxable?

Prizes are taxable under U.S. and relevant international law. No withholding will be assessed by the prize administrator on behalf of any entrant claiming a prize. Please see the rules, terms, and conditions for more information. 

If I am awarded a prize, am I prevented from applying for future grants or funding?

There are no restrictions on future grants or funding associated with accepting Mission Daybreak prizes. However, other grants and competitions may have restrictions.

Will finalists or winners receive a contract with VA?
Mission Daybreak does not guarantee contracts with VA after the challenge.

If I win, will I need to sign over my idea to VA or can I implement the program myself?

Solvers maintain rights to their solutions and there are no requirements for implementation after the challenge. 

Veterans’ experiences

Why are Veterans disproportionately affected by suicide? 

Veterans face many challenges after serving, including adapting to civilian life, finding a sense of purpose, and managing mental health, grief, and trauma. 

How can I ensure my solution accounts for the perspectives and needs of Veterans? 

Suicide prevention is a complex problem, and Veterans do not exist in a vacuum. Solvers should carefully consider all risk and protective factors for Veterans, from the individual to the societal level. Many resources on the Resources page highlight the various perspectives and needs of Veterans, including VA’s PREVENTS roadmap that specifically calls out risk and protective factors on page 15. 

How much focus should we place on our personal experience in our proposal? For example, if we have utilized the Veterans’ Crisis Line or have previous experience as a VA employee?

Mission Daybreak aims to bring fresh thinking to help address Veteran suicides, and your unique perspective, experience, and understanding of this challenge is important. It is also important to validate your assumptions through research and interacting with other members of the community. 

Data and technology

What data sources should we consider integrating into our solutions? 

Solutions can integrate any number of data sources into their solutions, including those directly or indirectly related to Veterans and suicide prevention. Solvers should explore the Resources page to identify potential data sources for their solutions. 

Will Mission Daybreak provide data to solvers? 

Mission Daybreak will not provide data to solvers in Phase 1. However, there are a number of informational resources available on the challenge website, and the VA open data portal contains ~1800 open datasets that solvers can incorporate into their solutions. Additional data resources may be provided in Phase 2. 

What is synthetic data? 

Synthetic data is artificially manufactured rather than generated by real-world events. Algorithms are used to mimic real-world data that support solution development and test methodologies before real-world implementation. It does not contain any real data or real identifiable data, meaning people’s privacy is preserved.

How should solvers think about the balance between privacy and functionality when designing their solutions?

Privacy and functionality are both crucial, and neither should be overlooked. Solvers developing data-driven solutions should consider all relevant best practices and policies, especially if handling personal data and/or health data. 

How can solvers ensure that their solutions will be applied equitably and not have unintended consequences? 

Solvers should note that one of the evaluation criteria is ensuring an ethical approach. Furthermore, using Veteran-centered design approaches when developing solutions and ensuring they are grounded in evidence-based or evidence-informed research may help to mitigate unintended consequences.  



What should my submission include?

Solvers should respond to the prompts in the challenge submission form and upload a concept paper that addresses each of the six content areas listed, including solution description, Veteran impact, evidence framework, implementation plan, needs identification, and team description. 

What are the file and formatting requirements for the concept paper?

Submissions should be no longer than 10 pages, and should be formatted with 1-inch margins (2.5 cm), single or double-spaced, using Times New Roman font with minimum 12-point size for prose and minimum 10-point font for tables and charts. Appendices can be included but are not guaranteed review. The challenge has not set any further requirements for formatting.

Can I include links in my concept paper?

Links can be included but will be treated as appendices and are not guaranteed review. 

Can I review my submission after I submit it?

Once a submission has been submitted, it can be accessed but not adjusted. Solvers can save the submission as a draft and make adjustments at any time prior to the 4:59 p.m. EDT deadline on July 8. If an amendment is needed after submitting and before the deadline, email hello@missiondaybreak.net to re-open the submission for access.

Can I enter multiple submissions or participate on different teams?

Yes, solvers may submit more than one solution or be part of multiple teams. However, each submission should represent a substantially distinct solution that meets the submission requirements and evaluation criteria. 

Do I retain intellectual property rights to concepts I submit to Mission Daybreak?

Solvers will retain all rights to their intellectual property but submission materials will become property of VA. 


What is the Phase 1 evaluation process?

An expert review panel will assess submissions and advance leading concepts to a multidisciplinary judging panel. Judges will recommend 30 finalists and 10 Promise Award winners to VA’s award-approving officials. 

Will you favor certain types of submissions or organizations during the evaluation process? 

All submissions will be evaluated according to the Phase 1 evaluation criteria, and there is no advantage given to any submission, team, or organization type.

How will you ensure submissions are judged equally?

Reviewers and judges will recuse themselves from evaluating any submissions deemed to present a conflict of interest. Clear evaluation criteria will be provided to ensure that the reviewing and judging processes are consistent and fair. 

What is the difference between the review panel and the judging panel?

The review panel includes experts from across academia, industry, and nonprofits. The judging panel is composed of leaders in suicide prevention and clinical innovation at the VA. 

How have you ensured diversity on the review panel and the judging panel?

Across both panels, Mission Daybreak aims to reflect the breadth of gender, race, and other backgrounds present in the Veteran population. The judging panel must be composed of VA employees. To ensure challenge submissions are assessed by a diverse range of experts, Mission Daybreak invites leaders in suicide prevention, data analytics, Veteran advocacy, and community-based mental health to join the expert review panel. The review panel will assess submissions according to Phase 1 evaluation criteria and advance leading concepts to the judging panel. 

Complete the Mission Daybreak review panel form to express interest. Panel members should be available from June 30 to July 22, and will be asked to assess up to seven concept papers of 10 pages or less.

Who from the review panel will review my submission?

Each submission will be reviewed by three reviewers: a technical expert, a Veteran or family member of a Veteran, a suicide prevention coordinator or mental health professional.

Are there a certain number of finalist spots reserved for a particular submission or solver type?

There are no quotas for any categories of solutions, and submissions will be assessed solely on the evaluation criteria

How can I participate in the review panel?

If you are not entering a submission for the challenge, you can fill out the interest form if you would like to contribute time and expertise as a reviewer.

Forming a team

How many people are required to be on a team?

Teams may consist of an individual or of multiple team members. There is no minimum or maximum limit on team sizes, and no preference will be given based on team size.

What range of expertise are teams expected to have?

Teams are expected to have the expertise required to develop, test, and implement their solutions.

How can I join a team or find team members to collaborate on a submission? 

You are encouraged to join the solver community to identify collaboration opportunities. Once signed up, your information will be shared with all other members of the community, and you will in turn receive regular updates to the database throughout the open submissions period. 

Can I enter Mission Daybreak if I join the solver community?

Yes. The solver community is provided as a resource to all Phase 1 innovators, and you can enter a submission with or without any potential collaborations you identify through it. 

Can winning teams collaborate or combine their solutions, or are they expected to go and develop their solutions separately?

Teams that advance to Phase 2 can add new members, collaborations, and partnerships to their team. If two or more finalist teams combine, one of the teams must be identified as the primary entrant.



What is the Phase 2 accelerator?

The accelerator is a virtual, eight-week program to help teams rapidly advance their concepts into refined solutions. As part of the accelerator, finalist teams that advance to Phase 2 will have access to opportunities for peer collaboration, mentorship and networking, educational sessions, and technical guidance. 

Who is required to participate in the accelerator?

The 30 finalist teams selected in Phase 1 will advance to the Phase 2 accelerator. At least one member of each finalist team will attend the in-person Demo Day.

What is the time commitment for the accelerator?

The accelerator will take place over the course of eight weeks with mentorship and webinars each week. With the exception of set times for webinars, finalists will progress at their own pace. Recordings of webinars will be made available within a week of the webinar.

Will the accelerator resources be released to the public following Phase 2?

Accelerator resources will be tailored specifically to the teams participating in Phase 2, and therefore will not be released to the public.

Demo Day

What is Demo Day?

After Phase 2 submissions, finalists will present their refined solutions at Demo Day, a live pitch event in November 2022. Demo Day will feature a closed-group question-and-answer session with judges; presentations to stakeholders, investors, and partners; and time for networking. Following Demo Day, judges will evaluate submissions according to Phase 2 evaluation criteria. 

Where is Demo Day? Will it be virtual or in-person?

At this time, Demo Day is planned to be in-person in a city in the Northeastern U.S. Teams that advance to Phase 2 will need to send at least one representative and may use Phase 1 prize money to cover travel costs.

At what level are solutions expected to be by Demo Day?

Each finalist’s refined solution in Phase 2 must demonstrate progress since Phase 1 and include an ambitious yet achievable roadmap for prototyping, iteration, testing/validation, and evaluation.

Are you a Veteran having thoughts of suicide or concerned about one?
Contact the Veterans Crisis Line for confidential 24/7 support: Dial 988 then press 1, text to 838255, or chat online.