Ten child health innovations headed to SXSWi

Impact Pediatric Health child health innovation
(U.S. Army/Lori Yerden via Flickr)

Innovation in pediatrics is alive and well. On March 14, at the South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) festival in Austin, Tex., Impact Pediatric Health will run its second annual pitch competition for digital health and medical device startups. Based on the ten child health innovations to be pitched, it promises to be as inspiring as last year’s event.

Judges include representatives from the four founding hospitals — Boston Children’s Hospital, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Texas Children’s Hospital and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia — and from Sesame Workshop, whose recently announced Sesame Ventures plans to support companies that “help kids grow smarter, stronger and kinder.”

John Brownstein, PhD, chief innovation officer at Boston Children’s and one of the judges on the panel, agrees with that mission. “When it comes to innovation, pediatrics is often a second thought or gets left out altogether,” he says. “I’m extremely impressed with the landscape this year and the breadth of startup ideas.”

At last year’s event, Kezia Fitzgerald, founder of CareAline Products, was the big winner for her fabric sleeves and chest wraps to hold intravenous lines and catheters in place. Emcee Mark Cuban — the ABC “Shark Tank” celebrity and owner of the Dallas Mavericks — vowed to donate 1,000 pieces imprinted with the Mavericks logo to Dallas children’s hospitals, and made good on this promise in January.

These companies are all aiming at critical pediatric health priorities. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Seattle Children’s Hospital and Stanford Children’s Health are also supporting this year’s event. The 10 finalists, which will compete for a $50,000 prize, are:


No1Babyscripts, a tool that monitors expectant mothers using Internet of Things medical devices (like connected weight scales and blood pressure cuffs) and connects them to their obstetricians.


No2Brain Power, a neuro-assistive device for autism using an augmented-reality smart-glass artificial intelligence system to help children learn self-control and other cognitive and social skills.


No3Cognoa, offering a screening tool for parents to see if their child’s development is on track, based on machine learning algorithms and digital therapeutics for speech, socialization and sleep.


No4Cohero Health, a platform to improve respiratory care through mobile devices that engage and empower patients, measuring lung function and tracking adherence.


No5LIFEbubble, a device that stabilizes neonatal umbilical catheters and protects the catheter insertion site to prevent catheter-associated bloodstream infections.


No6Nanofiber Solutions, a new care paradigm involving the development of tissue engineered vascular grafts for arteriovenous access for kidney disease.


No7Qidza, whose BabyNoggin teaches parents how to assess developmental milestones at home and connect with experts if needed.


No8Sense.ly, a mobile-first, virtual healthcare assistant platform that helps clinicians care for and communicate with their patients.


No9Totohealth, an award-winning mobile innovation that utilizes mobile technology to save lives of mothers and children.


No10Voiceitt, offering Talkitt, which translates incoherent sounds into clear speech in real time, allowing the speech-disabled to communicate using their own voice.


Startup CEOs will have three minutes to pitch how their company is solving unique healthcare needs of children, from babies to teens. The emcee and judges then get to ask questions. The winner will receive a set of prizes as well as the opportunity to meet one-on-one with the presenting pediatric hospitals.

“These companies are all aiming at critical pediatric health priorities, so it looks like we will be hard pressed to choose a winner,” says Brownstein. “The commitment of these startups to take on challenges in pediatrics is absolutely commendable.”