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2020 Healthcare Entrepreneurship Challenge Focuses on Equity

2019 Healthcare Challenge Second Place Winner Michael Lai '20 (c), with President Stuart Rabinowitz (l) and Executive Dean for Entrepreneurship and Business Development Stacey SIkes (r)

The Healthcare Entrepreneurship Community Challenge, an entrepreneurship competition with over $50,000 in cash and in-kind prizes, is now accepting innovative proposals to address a community health care problem in underserved communities in Long Island,  New York City, and the Hudson Valley region. The challenge seeks entrepreneurs with market-based products or services that address this year’s Challenge topic, “Advancing Health Equity.” 

Entrepreneurs must attend an informational webinar on March 20 at 5:00 pm EST and then will be required to submit a Letter of Intent that describes their business objectives and demonstrates their commitment to health equity.  Webinar registration is available at

The project is a partnership of Hofstra’s Center for Entrepreneurshipthe 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.

“Over the past two years, Hofstra University and its partners have supported more than 60 early stage companies with developing growth strategies so they can implement creative solutions to community health challenges in our region’s underserved communities. We look forward to working with a new cohort of entrepreneurs in 2020 to support their efforts to advance health equity,” 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 2020 Signature Sponsor, providing programmatic support to the participants and the majority of the cash prizes, as well as serving on the Steering Committee and providing mentorship.

“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 Community Health 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 improve the total health outcomes of individuals and their communities.”

The prizes packages are $28,000 for first place, $10,000 for second place, and $8,000 for third place.  Winners will be announced at the Regional Symposium and Pitch Competition on October 2, 2020 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, and Nixon Peabody, a full-service law firm with more than 600 attorneys who serve clients ranging from Fortune 100 companies to entrepreneurs.

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 2020 topic, “Advancing Health Equity,” requires attention to the conditions that affect people’s everyday lives.  This includes basic needs like housing, transportation, healthy food, and education by focusing on communities and our built and natural environments.

“This year’s Challenge focuses on the upstream challenges that impact the health of communities. By zeroing in on social needs, entrepreneurs will need to examine and address the causes of health inequity in our region,” 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: “The only way we are going to achieve a more equitable and healthy future is to fast track innovative ideas that address the risk factors and social determinants of health that are keeping communities from achieving their full health potential. This Challenge will do just that by mentoring a cohort of entrepreneurs who are committed to advancing health equity.”

All submissions will be reviewed by an expert panel of entrepreneurial instructors, who will also lead an intensive Bootcamp for selected entrepreneurs from June 3 through 5, 2020 at Hofstra University’s ideaHUb incubator.   The pitch competition and regional symposium will take place at Hofstra University on October 2, 2020.

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.

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