RCCC’s Small Business Center is part of the Health Equity Innovation Challenge
Published at 12:00 on Sunday, January 8, 2023
The Flywheel Foundation has launched the Health Equity Innovation Challenge, which is sponsored by Atrium Health.
Additional organizations involved in providing research, subject matter expertise, community engagement, and entrepreneurial support include Cabarrus College of Health Sciences, Cabarrus Health Alliance, North Carolina Research Campus, El Puente Hispano, Racial Equity Cabarrus, Cabarrus Economic Development Corporation , The Chamber, Business Leader. in Cabarrus and at the Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Small Business Center.
The competition seeks solutions to problems that cause disparities in health care outcomes. The challenge will last three years and requires 20-30 companies. The application website is open and will accept applications until March 31 at www.healthequityinnovationchallenge.com.
The Flywheel Foundation is administering the challenge which requires successful applicants to prove the commercial viability and social impact of their solutions.
“The pandemic exposed disparities caused by social drivers that lead to health disparities and barriers to health care access,” Roy Hawkins Jr., president of Atrium Health’s North Market where the program is based, said in a news release. “We will focus on innovative entrepreneurial solutions to address leading indicators and drivers of health care disparities as opposed to systemic lagging indicators.”
“The Flywheel Foundation has been managing innovation accelerators and challenges for the past eight years,” said Jill Atherton, the foundation’s executive director.
Applications are invited for social and technological innovations that can be applied and commercialized with demonstrated potential for social and economic impact in the following priorities:
• Access: Improve access to colorectal screening, A1c screening, blood pressure screening and behavioral health, with reduced readmissions.
• Quality and outcomes: Eliminate inequalities in mortality, mental health and maternal and child health.
• Acute social needs: Support systems, community engagement, structural discrimination.
• Health drivers: Economic stability and upward mobility; food security and access to healthy foods; access to affordable housing and shopping areas; affordable transportation; affordable childcare, access and quality education.
Target populations are vulnerable communities such as African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Native Americans, and those at 200% of the federal poverty levels.
“Understanding these drivers and social indicators from the customer’s perspective within these communities is key to unlocking innovative solutions,” said Matt Roden, director of community engagement at Atrium Health.
The challenge calls for engagement with those populations in northern Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, Rowan, Stanly and Iredell counties for proof-of-concept testing. Local and regional applications will be given priority weighted evaluation, but the challenge will be marketed statewide and nationally.
Applications will then be evaluated by a review committee with representatives from partnering institutions, and finalists will be nominated to be one of 5-10 founding teams accepted into the accelerator starting June 5 at the Cabarrus Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Concord.
After the 12-week accelerator, companies will enjoy an 18-month residency at the Cabarrus Center with the support of the Venture Mentoring Service (VMS), an MIT-licensed program.
Additional benefits include:
• Access to research, subject matter expertise, client and investor presentations from sponsors and partner organizations.
•A $5,000 Spark grant in the form of non-dilutive funding.
• The opportunity to negotiate with the title sponsor for investment or another form of strategic partnership.
• Introducing additional investors for further funding through Flywheel’s New Ventures program.
“Founders can expect to experience an amazing program that equips them with the skills, resources and relationships needed to build high-impact businesses. Being a serial entrepreneur and having attended and worked in various accelerators and incubators, I can attest that this Health Equity Innovation Challenge is unparalleled,” said David Hunt, director of the accelerator.