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Healthcare Entrepreneurship Challenge Seeks Proposals

President Stuart Rabinowitz with Elnaz Sarabchian, CEO of MedAux, which won first place in Hofstra's 2018 Healthcare Entrepreneurship Community Challenge

The Healthcare Entrepreneurship Community Challenge, an entrepreneurship competition with over $60,000 in cash and prizes, is now accepting innovative proposals to improve wellness in under-served communities in Long Island,  New York City, and the Hudson Valley region. 

The challenge seeks entrepreneurs with market-based products or services that address a community health care problem around this year’s Challenge topic, “Creating Wellness.” The deadline to submit proposals is March 15, 2019. Applications can be submitted at www.nyhealthchallenge.com.

The project is a partnership of Hofstra’s Center for Entrepreneurship, the School of Health Professions and Human Services, the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, the Frank G. Zarb School of Business, and Northwell Ventures, the investment arm of Northwell Health. The three-year entrepreneurship training program is funded by a $485,000 federal grant from the selective Regional Innovation Strategies program administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration.

“Hofstra University and its partners are seeking creative solutions to community health challenges in our region’s underserved communities. By encouraging entrepreneurs to focus their talents and energy on creating wellness, we can improve healthcare outcomes and make significant contributions to the future of our regional economy,” said Stacey Sikes, Executive Dean of Entrepreneurship and Business Development at Hofstra University.

Northwell Health, New York State’s largest healthcare provider and private employer, is the 2019 Signature Sponsor, providing programmatic support to the participants and the majority of the cash prizes, as well as serving on the Steering Committee.

“Addressing the underlying factors that contribute to health disparities in so many communities throughout the metropolitan area requires us to engage differently – and think differently,” said Ram Raju, MD, senior vice president and chief community investment officer at Northwell Health. “Given the level of talent that exists throughout the region, I’m confident that we can identify innovative solutions that will expand access to care and improve outcomes.”

The prizes, which include cash and in-kind services, are $26,000 for first place, $18,000 for second place, and $13,000 for third place.  Winners will be announced at the Regional Symposium and Pitch Competition on September 24, 2019 at Hofstra University.

In addition, the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University is sponsoring the $5,000 Community Impact Award for diverse entrepreneurs to seek solutions to the problems of providing healthcare in underserved suburbs.

The cash prizes are also sponsored by Digital Remedy, a global digital marketing firm founded by Hofstra Board of Trustees member Mike Seiman; Ernst & Young, one of the world’s largest accounting firms focused on building a better working world for their people, clients, and communities; Nixon Peabody, a full-service law firm with more than 600 attorneys who serve clients ranging from Fortune 100 companies to entrepreneurs; and the NuHealth Foundation, which furthers NuHealth’s healthcare delivery to hundreds of thousands of Long Islanders, including those who are underserved, uninsured and overlooked.

Additionally, Intelligent Product Solutions is providing prototyping consulting services as an in-kind prize, and Hofstra University’s Center for Entrepreneurship is sponsoring in-kind prizes including technical assistance, incubator space, and marketing support.

Each year, a steering committee comprised of public health, business, and venture capital experts selects a different community healthcare topic. The 2019 topic, “Creating Wellness,” challenges entrepreneurs to propose innovative solutions promoting emotional, occupational, physical, social, intellectual, and spiritual wellness.

“This year’s Challenge aims to address both the traditional and non-traditional sectors that contribute to overall wellness such as housing, transportation, education, built environments, criminal justice, financial literacy and community economic development,” said Martine Hackett, an associate professor of health professions at Hofstra and co-chair of the steering committee.  

Said committee co-chair Anthony Santella, associate professor of health professions: “With the goal of joining together to build health equity, our Challenge will invest in entrepreneurial approaches to resolve what happens outside of health care environments.”

All submissions will be reviewed by an expert panel of entrepreneurial instructors, who will also lead an intensive Bootcamp for selected entrepreneurs from May 29 – 31, 2019 at Hofstra University’s new state-of-the-art business incubator, the ideaHUb.  

New York residency is not required to participate, but entrants will be required to attend events at Hofstra University and conduct customer discovery activities in the Challenge target area. The 2018 cohort included over 40 teams from the United States and Canada, with winning pitches from MedAux, Playback Health, and Benefit Kitchen in first, second, and third places respectively. Participating teams have since showcased at national conferences, participated in other competitions and received private investment. 

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