The U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command

xTechBOLT - Graphic xTechBOLT - Graphic Alt
Total Money Offered: $1,000,000
Challenge Topic: Brain Operant Learning Technology
Partner Agency: The U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command
Submission Dates: August 11, 2020 — October 16, 2020
Winner Announced: December 2, 2021
Who Can Submit: United States-based companies or organizations


Vanderbilt Univeristy
Enhancement of Classroom Medical Learning in the Army
Drexel University
Neuroergonomic Training with Interpersonal Brain Interfaces
EEG Based Learning Accelerator
University of California at Berkeley
High-Resolution, High Dimensional Functional Mapping
Future Self-Avatar and Personalized Training


The U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command (USAMRDC) is announcing the xTech Brain Operant Learning Technology – xTechBOLT – prize competition. The prize competition is designed to incentivize industry to develop and demonstrate the use of one or more tool(s) (e.g., QEEG, fMRI, MEG, BIOMRK, NIRS, PET, MEA, SPECT, or other) to locate, track, and trace four types of learning traits, including explicit and implicit knowledge, from exposure to storage, and use those neural pathways to capture emotions and empathy and research a proof of concept mechanism (software or hardware, or both) that could be developed to promote optimal retention and access to memories.   

The goals for this competition are to understand the effects of emotion and empathy on learning and memory and the functional roles played by various brain regions and their mutual interactions in relation to emotional and empathetic processing and effect on both implicit and explicit learning.  Understanding these effects will help build the United States Military of the future, by revolutionizing how we teach and train Warfighters, how we build better medical providers, and how we utilize novel brain operant learning technologies.   

The Army (and more broadly the U.S. Department of Defense) seek “path finding” teams and technologies through this competition. Therefore, xTechBOLT is not interested in low-risk, repackaged approaches of tried and true techniques. We aim to find early-stage innovations with the potential to dramatically improve military training outcomes with novel hardware- and/or software-based technologies.

The prize authority the competition falls under is Title 10, US Code (USC) Section 2374a.

Problem Statement

  • xTechBOLT is seeking participants to use one or more tool(s) (e.g., QEEG, fMRI, MEG, BIOMRK, NIRS, PET, MEA, SPECT, or other) to:
    • Locate, track, and trace four types of learning traits including explicit and implicit knowledge from exposure to storage, and use those neural pathways to capture emotions and empathy from exposure to storage;
    • Research a proof of concept technology which may include software or hardware, or both that could be developed to promote optimal retention and access to memories.
  • Applicant technologies must be independently verified as either: mature Basic Research, at a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 2, and ready to move into Applied Research; or can be verified at a TRL for 3 or 4,
  • Applicant technologies must have an executable strategy to mature to a TRL of 6 and
  • Applicant technologies must have a transition strategy, for movement to a Program Management Office (PMO).

Schedules and Prizes


August 1 - October 16, 2020

Up to 10 winners


All eligible entities shall submit a concept white paper and accompanying video up to 3 minutes in length outlining their use of one or more tool(s) (e.g., QEEG, fMRI, MEG, BIOMRK, NIRS, PET, MEA, and/or SPECT) to locate, track, and trace four types of learning traits including explicit and implicit knowledge from exposure to storage, and those neural pathways capturing emotions and empathy.

White Paper must clearly communicate understanding of the topic, tools, and technologies related to the neurobiology of operant learning, considering and applying emotion and empathy factors, and describe fully a proposal to deliver a technical solution based on emerging science, novel discovery and modern detection methodologies


November 30 - December 4, 2020

Up to 5 winners


Selected applicants will conduct an live public presentation at the virtual I/ITSEC Conference. Applicants will present their technology concept and team ability to the Army xTechBOLT Panel. The technology pitch shall outline their technology (with a justification for the tool choice (e.g. QEEG, fMRI, MEG, BIOMRK, NIRS, PET, MEA, SPECT, or other) used in identifying operant brain pathways and identify the software or hardware, or both that will advance the human learning process, applicability (the potential impact on Revolutionizing the Military Health System (MHS) and Army Medicine), and presentation quality (the ability to communicate the concept so as to be understood by a diverse audience). Each applicant will have 15 minutes to pitch, followed by 10 minutes for questions and answers with the xTechBOLT Panel.

November 2021

Up to 5 winners

1st Place: $500,000

2nd Place: $125,000; 3rd Place: $75,000; 4th Place: $50,000; 5th place: $25,000
Up to 5 finalists will be invited to conduct an in-person Proof-of-Concept Demonstration to a panel of Army subject matter experts and the public at the 2021 I/ITSEC Conference in Orlando, Florida.

Judging Criteria

Each concept white paper will be reviewed by an xTechBOLT Panel including Warfighter, acquisition, and research and development subject matter experts. Up to 10 applicants with the highest ranking concept white papers will receive a prize of $10,000 and advance to the Semifinals: Technology Pitches.

The concept White Papers will be evaluated using the detailed evaluation criteria found on the contest submission page. Judging criteria for the semifinals and finals will be sent out to participants invited to those rounds.

How to Enter

White paper submissions must adhere to the following requirements:

  • All concept white papers must be submitted using the template found on the registration page, “xTechBOLT_WhitePaper_Template.doc”Any proposals submitted in a format other than that provided by the template will not be reviewed. 
  • Provide an optional Vimeo URL on the contest registration page to a video supporting your application. Production value does not matter at all, and the can be used to briefly explain the concept, introduce your team, or to otherwise demonstrate the technology concept proposed.  MAXIMUM of 3-minutes for the video's length.
  • Please list your company name, and proposal title EXACTLY how you would like them to appear on any contest marketing materials, recommend clear and concise proposal titles to give readers and potential stakeholders understanding of how your technology would benefit the Army.


The efforts described in this Notice are being pursued under the authorities of 10 US Code (USC) 2374a (Prizes for Advanced Technology Achievements).  While the authority of this program is Title 10, US Code (USC) Section 2374a, a concept white paper submitted to the xTechBOLT program may generate interest by another Army organization for a funding opportunity outside of this program (e.g., submission of a proposal under a Broad Agency Announcement). The interested Army organization may contact the applicant to provide additional information.

All xTechSearch submissions are treated as privileged information and contents are disclosed to Government employees or designated support contractors only for the purpose of evaluation and program support.

Intellectual Property

The Army is a strong proponent of deliberate intellectual property (IP) rights and management by the private sector and the Department of Defense. For the xTechBOLT program:

  • The Federal Government may not gain an interest in IP developed by an applicant without the written consent of said applicant;
  • Nothing in this xTechBOLT prize competition shall diminish the Government’s rights in patents, technical data, technical information, computer software, computer databases, and computer software documentation that the Government had prior to this xTechBOLT prize competition, or is entitled to, under any other Government Agreement or contract, or is otherwise entitled to under law; and
  • The Federal Government may negotiate a license for the use of IP developed by a registered applicant in the prize competition.


US Army Medical Materiel Development Activity (USAMMDA) xTechBOLT Team

Email:  usarmy.pentagon.hqda-asa-alt.mbx.xtechsearch@mail.mil