Fitbit Health Equity Research Initiative

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Program Description

Fitbit and Fitabase are announcing the availability of products, services and expertise to research teams investigating novel and promising approaches to health disparities research. The goals of the program are to support underrepresented early career researchers who are actively investigating health disparities while aiming to improve health outcomes in underserved populations. By putting additional resources in the hands of health disparities investigators and encouraging wearable research in the field, we hope to generate new evidence and methods for addressing health disparities while building trust in communities often absent from human health research.

Important Dates

Item

Date

Open Call Program Announcement Wednesday, April 14, 2021
Informational Webinar Wednesday, April 28, 2021, 11am PST
Stage 1 Application: Letter of Intent due date Friday, May 28, 2021, 5pm PST
Anticipated Notice of Invitation to Full Application Process Beginning on Wednesday, June 16, 2021
Stage 2: Full Application due date (invite only) Friday, July 16, 2021, 5pm PST
Anticipated Award Announcement Wednesday, August 4, 2021
Anticipated Performance Period August 2021 – December 2022

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s available to researchers in this program?

Awards will be tailored to the research and population needs described in the application and may range in size and scope. The number of projects supported will depend upon the applications received, with a total commitment of up to $500,000* in Fitbit and Fitabase products and services. While we will aim to award the most promising projects with the greatest potential impact, we encourage research projects of all sizes to submit a letter of intent.

Available products and services:

  • Fitbit devices, including smartwatches, trackers and scales**
  • Fitbit services, including memberships to Premium and Health Coaching
  • Fitabase’s real-time data collection and monitoring platform***

*This is a supplemental award and does not include a monetary contribution.
**Fitbit can make a custom online storefront available to researchers who would like to enable participants to redeem a fully subsidized device and have it shipped to a location of their choice. If your study would benefit from this capability, please include an additional $7 for each device.
***All awardees will receive access to Fitabase’s platform services and an estimate of these costs does not need to be included in Letters of Intent or subsequent application details.

Here are some examples of potential scenarios for how Fitbit products and services could be utilized. Each applicant should tailor their letter of intent to their specific study needs.

Example A
Researchers need Fitbit Sense smartwatches and a 12-month membership to Health Coaching for 100 study participants.

Fitbit Sense 100 x $299.95 = $29,995
Fitbit Health Coaching 100 x $54.99 x 12 months = $65,988
Total to include in proposal: $95,983

Example B
Researchers need Inspire 2 trackers and Aria Air scales for 1,000 study participants.

Fitbit Inspire 2 1,000 x $99.95 = $99,950
Fitbit Aria 1,000 x $49.95 = $49,950
Total to include in proposal: $149,900

Example C
Researchers need Charge 4 trackers, Aria Air scales and a 12-month membership to Health Coaching for 500 study participants.

Fitbit Charge 4 Tracker 500 x $149.95 = $74,975
Fitbit Aria Air Scale 500 x $49.95 = $24,975
Fitbit Health Coaching 500 x $54.99 x 12 months = $329,940
Total to include in proposal: $429,890

 

Where can I learn more about using Fitbit devices and services in research?

We hosted an informational webinar on Wednesday, April 28th. Couldn’t make it to the webinar? Watch it on demand here.

You can also learn more from the following online resources:

What is Fitbit looking for in applicants?

Applicants should Applicants should not
  • Be an early career investigator
  • Be employed and/or affiliated with an educational or non-profit organization
  • Have a research project aimed at reducing health disparities in underrepresented and underserved populations in the United States
  • Be prepared to leverage Fitbit devices and services as an intervention to improve health outcomes 
  • Have access and experience working with underserved populations 13+ years old within the United States
  • Have core funding secured or under review to advance proposed research
  • Be willing to adhere to Fitbit’s Research Pledge
  • Have their organization’s approval to enter into a giveaway  agreement with Fitbit and Fitabase
  • Be prepared to initiate research within 6 months of award announcement
  • Be prepared to do their own analyses
  • Be prepared to share outcomes within 21 months of giveaway announcement
  • At least one principal investigator should be from a historically underrepresented group in STEM, such as African American/Black, Alaska Native, Hispanics, Native American, Native Hawaiian, Native Pacific Islander persons, persons with disabilities, persons from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, and women and girls. 
  • Be an established career investigator
  • Plan to only leverage Fitbit devices as a measurement tool
  • Be employed and/or affiliated with a for-profit organization
  • Be employed and/or affiliated with a foreign or international organization

 

What does the application process look like?

Our goal is to make the application process as streamlined as possible to reduce burden to interested investigators and their teams. In the first stage, applicants are invited to submit an electronic letter of intent (“Letters of Intent”) describing their research needs for devices and services. Once Letters of Intent are reviewed, we will invite the most promising to submit a full application as part of the second stage (“Full Applications”). Following a review of the Full Applications, we will announce one or more awards.

Why are there two stages to the application process?

We want to be mindful of the resources your organization spends on preparing for Fitbit’s Health Equity Research Initiative. Through a two-stage application process, we hope to save you time and communicate the status of your potential for an award earlier.

Will details of the submission be kept confidential?

No. Fitbit and Fitabase will not treat your Letter of Intent, Full Application or accompanying materials as confidential or proprietary, and the details of those may be shared with internal or external experts to evaluate your proposal. You must not submit any proprietary or confidential information in your Letter of Intent, Full Application or accompanying materials. If your organization is selected to receive products or services, the information related to your project may be made available to the public.

How will Fitbit ensure researchers protect the privacy and security of participant user data? 

Fitbit has always been committed to protecting consumer privacy, putting users in control of their personal data, and working hard to keep your data safe. Organizations who receive an award under this initiative are required to comply with our Research Pledge, which specifies commitments we require from researchers to help protect and respect participants in research studies. 

How will the information I or my organization submits as part of the application process be used?

Your and your organization’s information, including any personal information in your letter of intent, application or related materials (such as name, mailing address, phone number, and email address), may be processed, stored, shared or otherwise used by Fitbit and Fitabase within the context of the application review process and provision of the products and services by Fitbit and Fitabase awarded in support of the initiative. Any such information processing, storing, sharing or use will be done so by Fitbit in accordance with its privacy policy and by Fitabase in accordance with its privacy policy.

Who owns the intellectual property created by the recipients?

We believe that projects supported by this program should be able to benefit everyone. If you are selected to receive products or services, a standard giveaway agreement will require that any intellectual property created by you in connection with your project be made available to the public for free under a permissive open source license.

What are the terms of the program?

Full application terms can be found here.

What information should I include in the Letter of Intent?

  • Your Letter of Intent should include the following:
    • Descriptive title of proposed research 
    • Name(s), address(es), and telephone number(s) of the investigator(s)
    • Names of other key personnel
    • Names of participating institution(s)
    • Optional: A description of obstacles or challenges you’ve faced in your career or research
    • In 500 words or less:
      • A description of the project’s aims and objectives
      • A description of the community served
      • A project, analysis and publication timeline
      • A description of current core funding status
      • A description of Fitbit’s inclusion and relevance to the proposed project
      • A description of the Fitbit device(s) and service(s) requested 
      • A description of Fitabase’s inclusion and relevance to the proposed project

How will Letters of Intent be evaluated?

Letters of Intent will be evaluated across four categories:

  • Potential impact of the research
  • Utilization of Fitbit and Fitabase devices and services
  • Overall feasibility of the research
  • Core funding status 

If I’m invited to submit a Full Application, what are the requirements?

Full Applications by invitation should include the following:

  • Project narrative that details the goals, objectives and milestones of the proposed research, specifically:
    • Overall impact
    • Significance
      • Does this project address key health equity related problem(s)?
    • Approach, Process & Methods
      • What are the key research questions and aims?
      • What are the proposed methodologies and analyses?
      • What is the target population and setting?
      • Literature review
      • Plans to protect participants from research risks and obtain IRB approval
    • Innovation
      • How will this project improve or create new approaches related to addressing health disparities? 
      • How will specific features of Fitbit and Fitabase devices, services and data be leveraged?
    • Fitbit devices and services budget 
      • Based on retail cost, define quantities needed in each category: 
        • Smartwatch 
        • Tracker 
        • Scale 
        • Premium membership
        • Health Coaching membership
    • Environment
      • How will the applicant’s organization and resources enable success?  
      • Describe any distinctive aspects of the organization that will enable project success
      • Are there any collaborations supporting the project?  If so, please describe roles and responsibilities.
  • Investigator(s)
  • Key Staff Qualifications
  • Current funding or funding under review
    • Supply primary funding agency and grant details 
  • Project work plan and timeline
  • Letters of Agreement, Endorsement, or Support
  • Memoranda of Understanding(s)

Can I submit more than one Letter of Intent?

Institutions, non-profit organizations and fiscal sponsors can submit multiple letters of intent for different studies, but investigators should only submit one Letter of Intent.

If I’m not invited to submit a Full Application or I do not receive an award, will I receive an explanation as to why?

We are unable to provide explanations for unsupported projects.  

Is this a one-time program?

We hope to continue to make Fitbit’s Health Equity Research Initiative available again, but have not made a formal decision and may make changes based on program learnings.

What support will be provided to awardees?

We will work closely with awardees to reasonably support study design along with device and services enrollment.

What support will not be provided to awardees?

We will not provide financial, analytic or authorship support.