Pitching pediatric innovation at SXSW Interactive

Pitching pediatric digital health innovationsJudy Wang, MS, is a program manager in the Telehealth Program at Boston Children’s Hospital.

A major theme at Taking on Tomorrow 2014 was the difficulty in making the business case for innovation in pediatrics, since the market size is small relative to the adult market. Muna AbdulRaqqaq Tahlak, MD, CEO of Latifa Hospital in Dubai, was among many who urged innovators to collaborate and aggregate their data to make the most impact.

It’s in that spirit that the upcoming Impact Pediatric Health Startup Pitch Competition (March 16) was born. Hosted by organizers of the South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) conference in Austin and the four top pediatric hospitals in the country—Boston Children’s, Cincinnati Children’s, Texas Children’s and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia—the event will identify the most promising digital health and medical device innovations for pediatrics.

Pediatric innovators: Learn more and apply to pitch your idea at www.impactpediatrichealth.com. Applications are due no later than January 31.

SXSWi (March 13-17) is the world’s leading festival for emerging technology and digital creativity, so it’s a great venue to highlight innovation in pediatrics, especially in digital health and wearables. In 2014, more than 33,000 people attended from more than 80 countries. Speakers this year include Martine Rothblatt (United Therapeutics), George Church (Harvard Medical School) and Anne Wojcicki (CEO and cofounder of 23andMe). SXSWi has also added the SX Health and MedTech Expo, focusing on such topics as the economic potential of the digital health industry, big data in health care and the use of 3-D bioprinting and biometrics.

Similar to Taking on Tomorrow’s “Innovation Tank,” Impact Pediatric Health will give selected innovators and up-and-coming startups three minutes pitch their ideas to a judging panel consisting of venture capitalists and executives from each of the four pediatric hospitals. The panel will be headed by Shirley Bergin, chief operating officer of TEDMED, with ABC “Shark Tank” investor and entrepreneur Mark Cuban as emcee.

Dan Nigrin, MD, MS, chief information officer at Boston Children’s Hospital, will be part of the panel. “We expect to see compelling innovations in patient safety, mental health, remote monitoring, prematurity, population management, and treatment compliance,” he told me. “We hope to see new deals and alliances to bring these ideas to life.”

John Brownstein, PhD, on the faculty of Boston Children’s CHIP program, looks forward to seeing pediatric projects get some traction. A “serial innovator” in the population health space, Brownstein formed a disease-tracking informatics startup, Epidemico, that was recently acquired by Booz Allen Hamilton.

“Pediatrics tends to get overshadowed by adult medicine, so it’s absolutely great that there’s a event aimed at seeding new ventures around the health of kids,” he told me. “To have a common mission across multiple world renowned hospitals is pretty unique, since health care institutions tend to be pretty insular. It’s exciting to see so many people coming to the table.”