Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Innovation Challenges Blog Post Announcing Semi-Finalists



The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has underscored the need for efficient and innovative emergency response. Major health organizations, such as the American Hospital Association, have provided resources that can be utilized for organizational preparedness, caring for patients, and enabling the workforce during the pandemic.

As COVID-19 brought to light the lack of emergency response preparedness in the health care system, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and Catalyst saw an opportunity to highlight digital health’s potential to support health care stakeholders and the general public. RWJF and Catalyst partnered to launch two Innovation Challenges on Emergency Response for the General Public and Emergency Response for the Health Care System. 

The Emergency Response Innovation Challenges asked innovators to develop a health technology tool to support the needs of individuals as well as health care systems affected by a large-scale health crisis, such as a pandemic or natural disaster. The Challenges saw a record number of applications— nearly 125 applications were submitted to the General Public Challenge and over 130 applications were submitted to the Health Care System Challenge. 

An expert panel of judges across the health tech, venture capital, design, and emergency response industries evaluated the entries and selected five semi-finalists from each challenge to advance to the next round. Congratulations to:

Emergency Response for the General Public Semi-Finalists:

  • Fresh EBT by PropelA technology tool for SNAP families to address food insecurity & economic vulnerability in times of crisis.   
  • CovidSMS CovidSMS is a text message-based platform providing city-specific information and resources to help low-income communities endure COVID-19.
  • Front-Line Force- A platform that connects volunteers 1:1 with front-line healthcare workers to complete tasks for them in crises.
  • Binformed CovidataBinformed is a clinically-driven comprehensive desktop + mobile infectious disease, epidemic + pandemic management tool targeting suppression and containment of diseases such as COVID-19.
  • Evva HealthHub-and-Spoke model and A.I. Community Coordinator for individual and community-level personalization of support and resource coordination.

Emergency Response for the Health Care System Semi-Finalists:

  • QventusQventus is a patient flow automation solution that applies AI / ML and behavioral science to help health systems optimize resources for Covid, create effective capacity, and reduce frontline burnout.
  • Path CheckPath Check provides privacy first, free, open source solutions for public health to supplement manual contact tracing, visualize hot spots, and interfaces with citizen-facing privacy first apps.
  • Tiatros IncThe first mental health and social support platform that combines clinical expertise, peer communities and scalable technology to advance mental wellbeing and to sustain meaningful behavioral change.
  • Hikma HealthHikma is the first affordable, lightweight, mobile, cloud-based EHR that provides dynamic data insights to physicians in refugee and under-resourced settings.
  • University Hospitals Ventures UH Innovates is a crowdsourcing platform for University Hospitals’ 30k employees to generate, iterate, and implement ideas in real-time, within crisis response and beyond.

The semi-finalists for the Challenges will be awarded $1,000 each to further develop their application or tool. After Phase II, three finalists from each Challenge will be chosen to compete at a virtual pitch hosted by Catalyst @ Health 2.0. They will demo their technology virtually to an audience of investors, provider organizations, health plans, tech companies, foundations, government officials and members of the media.  Judges will select the first, second, and third place winners live after a series of short demos from the finalists. The winners will be awarded $25,000 for first place, $15,000 for second place, and $5,000 for third place.

For further updates on the semi-finalists of the RWJF Emergency Response for the General Public and Emergency Response for the Health Care System Challenge and other programs, subscribe to the Catalyst @ Health 2.0 Newsletter, and follow Catalyst on  Twitter @catalyst_h20.

Catalyst @ Health 2.0 (“Catalyst”) is the industry leader in digital health strategic partnering, hosting competitive innovation “challenge” events, as well as developing and implementing programs for piloting and commercializing novel healthcare technologies.