Grand Challenges Demo Days Brings Shark Tank Excitement to HRSA

HRSA's Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) hosted the Grand Challenges Demo Days at HRSA headquarters over two days last week, and announced the Phase 2 winners of the MCHB Grand Challenges at the end of the event. The Challenges are prize competitions seeking innovative technology solutions to critical maternal and child health issues:

Prior to Demo Days, the top entries from Phase 1 of the four Challenges each won a share of a $100,000 prize per Challenge. They used this seed funding over the past six months to build out and test their ideas, with the help of experts in the field who served as mentors to the teams.

During Demo Days, teams in all of the four challenge areas demonstrated their innovations to a panel of judges in a format much like the reality show Shark Tank, where contestants have just a few minutes to make a winning pitch. Judges were all federal employees and experts in the field. The teams competed for a share of a $125,000 prize per Challenge and an opportunity to move to the third and final phase of the competitions.

“This is an important opportunity to show how government and the public can work together,” said HRSA Acting Administrator Tom Engels, who, along with MCHB Associate Administrator, Michael D. Warren, MD, MPH, FAAP, kicked off Demo Days, met with the teams personally and announced the winners at the end.

HRSA Acting Administrator Tom Engels and MCHB Associate Administrator Michael Warren meet with the teams competing in the MCHB Grand Challenges Demo Day
HRSA Acting Administrator Tom Engels and MCHB Associate Administrator Michael Warren meet with the teams competing in the MCHB Grand Challenges Demo Day.

 

Demo Days also included two lively panel discussions with leaders in the fields of health technology innovation and commercialization, as well as two showcase sessions for teams to network with the panelists, judges, HRSA staff, and each other.

“The process is meant to really energize around the thought of innovation to bring new stakeholders to the table. I would dare say there are folks who are Phase 1 winners who are here today who have never applied for a HRSA grant or a federal grant before and that this is a new way of engaging,” Dr. Warren told the event’s more than 200 attendees.

Date Last Reviewed:  September 2019