By SUSANNAH FOX
Imagine this: You and your colleagues know there are problems to be solved. You have resources to offer, such as funding, access to experts, and publicity.
You are pretty sure there are people with great ideas out there, asking questions, defining the scope of the problems you care about, seeing things that you can’t see. Some people are even forging ahead, developing solutions on their own, but you don’t know how to connect with them.
You need an intake valve for new ideas, a honeypot to attract problem-solvers. So you launch a prize competition.
If you have escaped all the buzz around prize competitions and grand challenges over the last decade or so, don’t worry. KidneyX has a wonderful FAQ, including:
What is a prize competition?
A prize competition is a method of problem-solving that describes a problem (usually to the general public) and offers a prize or prizes to whoever comes up with the best solution(s). Prize competitions are a good way to attract ideas and skills from a wide range of fields.
I served as a volunteer judge for the KidneyX Patient Innovator challenge and was bowled over by the creativity of the submissions, both those who won and those who did not. It reminded me to welcome people into the health innovation conversation who may not think of themselves as inventors, but who deeply understand the community at the center of a crisis. The “need-knowers” as Tikkun Olam Makers call them.
By JOHN EL-MARAGHY
Catalyst @ Health 2.0 is proud to have worked with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to address issues in substance misuse and artificial intelligence through two exciting innovation challenges. Following the finalists’ live pitches at the Health 2.0 Annual Conference, Matthew Holt and Indu Subaiya had the pleasure to interview leaders from the six companies that placed in the top spots across both competitions.
First Place Winners
RWJF Opioid Challenge: the Grand Prize award went to Sober Grid, a social network designed to support, assist, and educate those suffering from addiction and substance misuse. The Sober Grid platform incorporates a suite of geolocated support, a “burning desire” distress beacon, and coaching tools. For those looking to get help and support, the Sober Grid platform is a fantastic free utility.
The best way to get your startup noticed is to have your product validated by experts in the industry. As a young startup connecting with that community of experts can be quite difficult. Participating in a developer challenge can not only lead to funding and credibility but provides a valuable testing ground for products.
What is a developer challenge? These virtual competitions build on the concept of their in-person cousin the code-a-thon/hack-a-thon, prompting teams to develop technologies to address some of healthcare’s most complex issues. Over 3 – 6 months teams work on design concepts and prototypes for a variety of challenges sponsored by all types of organizations from charitable foundations to for-profit companies. Final submissions are judged by a panel of industry experts and winners are awarded cash prizes.
Health 2.0 has run over 75 challenges in the past 4 years and awarded over $6M in funding to burgeoning digital health companies. But its not only money that draws teams to these competitions, participants gain validation of their product, publicity and market access.Reflecting on the past few years, we want to share the successes of these challenges.
Ready? Here we go!