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AMA return to crowdsourcing with new open innovation challenge

08.28.2014
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At the start of this year the American Heart Association (AHA) embarked on an open innovation challenge to try and improve the readmission rates of patients who are hospitalised due to heart failure.  Figures suggest that around 25% of such patients are readmitted to hospital within 30 days.  The AHA open innovation challenge was seeking an early stage product that uses consumer technology to help either prevent or manage cardiovascular disease and stroke.

The $25,000 winning prize was awarded at the associations Health Sciences Innovation Investment Forum in NYC in March.  Such was the success of this initial foray into open innovation that the ASA are back for more.  They have launched the Chicago Open Innovation Challenge in conjunction with the medical crowdfunding platform MedStartr.

The challenge will come in two stages.  Stage one will ask contestants to complete an application form outlining how their technology can help manage or prevent heart disease.  This is a pretty small initial hurdle to clear, with applications closing on the 12th September.

Applicants will then be judged by a panel of AHA judges, who will select ten finalists to go through to the next stage.  This will run from the 30th September to the 5th November, and will involve each finalist attempting to raise as much money as possible on MedStartr for their particular project.  To prevent those with wealthy backers from distorting the competition, the rules state that only 30% of funding can come from people already known to the founders.

At the closing date in November, the finalists will be judged on both how much money they raised (30% of the final decision) and how much social media buzz they generated (20%), with the judges having the final say (50%).  The top three projects will then be invited to pitch their ideas to the Heart Innovation Forum in Chicago, which will feature an audience full of venture capitalists and various other influential people from the medical world.

The competition is open to any company that has thus far raised less than $5 million in funding, and has less than $150,000 in revenue.  As the challenge is being run by the Midwestern branch of the AHA, the entrants must also have some kind of presence in Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Iowa or Wisconsin.

The prize itself isn’t that lucrative, but the exposure via the crowdfunding element and the awards presentation itself could be very valuable to a fledgling company.  This will be one to watch.

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