UW Health Innovation Challenge

Watch the video above to learn more about HIC.

The Health Innovation Challenge is an exciting extracurricular competition that gives students the opportunity to come up with meaningful solutions to big problems the world faces today related to health.

Why participate?

  • What does it takes to bring a new idea to the world? You will find out.
  • Prototype funding is available for demonstration models.
  • Top-level professionals from the community will mentor you.
  • Work with an interdisciplinary team.
  • Prepare yourself for a career in the fast-changing world of healthcare and technology.
  • Win prizes up to $15,000 or more!


HIC Dates and Deadlines


Join the conversation & keep in the loop on dates and deadlines:

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Facebook: UWHealthInnovationChallenge

Questions? Contact Terri Butler at TLButler@uw.edu

AboutCourse InformationDates and DeadlinesRulesJudging CriteriaResourcesSponsors and Prizes


The common thread is INNOVATION, the Health Innovation Challenge builds on the strengths of colleges and universities in the Pacific to provide a platform for interdisciplinary student teams to work on new solutions to existing problems, new approaches to helping people live healthier lives, new opportunities for care and treatment, new products/services to market. Challenges spark creativity, design thinking, novel solutions, and the potential for new companies. This challenge, much like the Buerk Center’s well-regarded Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge, is designed for those students who are passionate about health innovation and are determined to make a difference.

Innovations in health and healthcare that promote, impact, and monitor health are creating a paradigm shift in our approach to healthy living. In the United States, healthcare has entered a period of unprecedented change with the Affordable Care Act and the “triple aim,” the emphasis on care that is safer, more efficient, and more accessible. Worldwide, the goal is clear: a healthier future that revolves around reducing infectious and noncommunicable disease, increasing the safety of care, lowering the cost of health care delivery, expanding access, and introducing technologies that bring greater health and wellness to the populous.

Course Information

Autumn 2016 (ENTRE 579/490 Health Innovation Practicum)
Dates: Thursdays 4:00-6:00 p.m.
Instructors: Emer Dooley emer@uw.edu & Sam Browd Samuel.Browd@seattlechildrens.org

The goal of this seminar is to help students innovate and create solutions to the toughest health challenges we face –on a domestic or global scale. Students will form cross-disciplinary teams around project concepts chosen by the class and present the team’s solutions to classmates and a panel of expert judges who will score the presentations. Although not required, teams are invited and encouraged to go beyond the class to compete in the 2017 Health Innovation Challenge. Learn more on the Health Innovation Practicum page.

2016-17 Dates and Deadlines

Health Innovation Practicum | Thursdays 4:00-6:00pm, Fall Quarter
Gain knowledge of current healthcare systems local to global, and hear from successful innovators.
Innovative? Find Your People | All at the HUB Room 145, 5:30-7:00pm. Wed Oct 19, Wed Nov 2, Wed Nov 9, Thu Dec 1. Meet students from diverse majors and form interdisciplinary teams to prepare for the HIC.
Panel of Past Participants | Wed Nov 9, 5:30-7:30pm, HUB 145
Hear from participants from past Challenges and see how far they’ve come.
Prototype Funding Application | Applications open Nov 14, DEADLINE Mon, Dec 12, 5pm.
Funds are available for demonstration models or simulations that will help you showcase your idea.

Health Innovation Challenge Panels | All events at the HUB Room 214, 5:30-7:30pm. Wed Jan 11, Tue Jan 24, Wed Feb 1. Essentials for teams, experts will cover the elevator pitch, market framework, customer development and finance.
Business Plan Practicum | Thursdays, 6:00-7:50pm, Winter Quarter
Speakers and resources that will help you understand how to build a business plan. Great preparation for the HIC!
Workshop | Thu Jan 26, 4:30-5:30pm
“Take Your Innovation to the Next Step,” Connie Bourassa-Shaw, Director, Buerk Center.
Mentor Connect Office Hours | January- February
Meet 1-on-1 with industry experts from technology, legal, marketing, and financial disciplines.
Team Registration | Jan 23 – Feb 6
Teams officially enter the HIC.
OFFICIAL ENTRY DEADLINE Screening Round | Mon Feb 6, 5pm
Submit a 5-7 page business summary for official entry into the HIC. Judges notify teams Yes/No by Feb 15.
Pitch Workshop for Top Teams | Wed Feb 22 5:30-8:00pm, HUB 214
Attendance is mandatory for all teams in the Seattle area going to the finals on Mar 1.
1-Page Business Summary Due | Thu Feb 23, 5pm
Summaries sent to every judge before the day of the Challenge so they can decide which demos to visit.
HEALTH INNOVATION CHALLENGE | Wed, Mar 1, 1:00-6:00pm, HUB Lyceum, University of Washington
Teams set up demos/simulations in the morning and pitch to a room full of judges early afternoon. Reception follows.


Health Innovation Challenge Rules

Teams that enter the Health Innovation Challenge must comply with the following criteria:

  • Teams entering must have at least one full-time student on the team who is enrolled in a degree seeking program at an accredited college or university in the Pacific Northwest, including Washington, Alaska, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana.. If you graduated in Summer quarter or later, you are considered a current student in the competition.
  • All submissions to the Health Innovation Challenge must live up to the higher ideals of the University of Washington. Your idea must be appropriate for a university-sponsored event. The Buerk Center reserves the right to disqualify any entry that in its judgment violates the letter or the spirit of the competition or exceeds the bounds of social convention.
  • If the team or company entering the competition is revenue positive, actual annual revenue cannot exceed $500k. (Please note this is different than the company’s projected revenue. This rule does not apply to projected revenue.)
  • Eligible students can form a team with non-students, but for the sake of this competition, non-students will be considered as advisors. Students must have an ownership stake in the business or the potential for equity or employment.
  • Only student team members are eligible to earn prize money. No payments will be made to nonstudents.

Note: The Director of the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship reserves the right to make the final determination of the eligibility of submitted business ventures.

The Health Innovation Challenge considers all submitted prototypes and business plans as confidential and treats all team matters accordingly. However, we cannot guarantee confidentiality for proprietary matters.

Therefore, we strongly encourage any team with concerns regarding intellectual property, copyright, or patent confidentiality to either contact their University’s intellectual property office (for University-developed discoveries) or competent legal counsel (for non-University related discoveries). The University of Washington, the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship, the Foster School of Business, and the organizers of the competition are not responsible for any proprietary information and/or intellectual property included in a submitted business plan.

Ultimately, protection of sensitive materials is the sole responsibility of the individual or team participating in the competition.
Questions? Contact Terri Butler, TLButler@uw.edu

Judging Criteria

5-7 Page Business Summary
Due Date early February

The first hurdle on your path toward the Health Innovation Challenge finals is to submit a winning business summary so your team is selected one of the teams who are invited to participate in the final Challenge.

How do you know what to include in your business summary?

Each 5-7 page Business Summary will be judged on:

  • Definition of the Problem
    Who cares about this problem? What will be different if you solve this problem?
  • Team
    Who are the individuals on the team? Do they have the skills to solve the problem? Have they engaged advisors, mentors, and experts from the community or industry?
  • Business Summary
    • Have you defined the problem?
    • Have you clearly described the proposed solution?
    • If there is a demo, what is it? (prototype, simulation, proof of concept, poster, video)?
    • Is the solution original or is it a novel application of an existing product or service?
    • Has the team researched and described the market opportunity and the competitors?
    • Has the team interviewed potential customers? How many? What did they say?
    • What is the scope of the opportunity (dollars, units produced, global impact)?
    • Does the solution fit the problem? Does it demonstrate an appropriate balance between the cost of the solution and its impact on the problem?
    • What is an estimate of the cost to produce?
    • What is the estimated timeline for development leading to launch of the product/service?

1-Page Business Summary
Due Date one week before the Health Innovation Challenge final round.

The Top HIC Teams that present on the day of the Health Innovation Challenge finals will be judged on their 1-page business summary, their pitch, their demo or prototype, and the potential for impact.

  • 1-page business summary: same criteria as for the 5- to 7-page summary (above)
  • 1 minute pitch to the judges:
    How motivated, enthusiastic is the team?
    Have they been able to convey the essential elements of the problem, the solution, and the market opportunity?
    How well do they understand the problem/solution (from both technical and marketing perspectives)?
    Have they generated enthusiasm to see their demo?
  • The demo or prototype:
    Does the Demo work? If it is not yet complete, could it work?
    Has the team provided test results and validation?
    Can the team describe the process and how it works?
    Can they describe how it could be improved?
    Is this solution efficient? Does it make optimal use of resources?
    How practical is this solution? What would it cost to make?
    Is this original work? Is it a novel application of an existing product? Is it off-the-shelf?
  • Potential for Impact:
    Could this team and this solution have a substantial impact in the market? In healthcare? In people’s lives?

Resources to Help You

Resources to help you with your business plan include our HIC panels of experts , office hours with experts available for 1-on-1 meetings, and Resource Nights on Thursdays.

Office Hours

Dates TBD January-February, 2017

Take your innovation challenge team to the next level by signing up for half-hour, one-on-one appointments with experts in our Office Hours series. Expertise includes legal, regulatory, marketing, financial, business summary critique, etc. Available to teams entering the HIC, EIC, and/or BPC competitions.
Medical device teams, this is a must!

Book your appointment online through MentorConnect.
NOTE: MentorConnect requires a UW login. If you are a student at another college or university, please contact Amy Sallin at asallin@uw.edu
. Students only!

Health Innovation Panels

Dates TBD in January and February 2017

Resource Nights Thursdays

Attending Resource Nights provide a great way to quickly pick up on business knowledge to help with your business summary. This can be taken as a class for UW students or is open to students and the public who just want to sit it. Can’t make it in person? Classes will be streamed live and the links posted afterward. More information and the Resources night schedule.

SEBA’s Science and Technology Showcase and Last Chance Team Formation Night

January 2017, date TBD

If you’re a student putting together a team for one of the competitions or a student who would like to join a team, take this opportunity to meet the participants and winners of SEBA’s Science and Technology Showcase (taking place just before the networking gets going) for a chance to meet potential teammates.

Sponsors and Prizes

2016 Prizes:

$10,000 Grand Prize sponsored by the Hollomon Family
$5,000 Second Place Prize sponsored by the Herbert B. Jones Foundation
$2,500 Third Place Prize sponsored by CoMotion


Thank you to our 2016 Health Innovation Challenge sponsors for their generosity anddedication to helping students achieve their potential.

Game Changers:

Jim and Timmie Hollomon
UW Foster School of Business
UW College of Engineering


Devindra and Manisha Chainani
Fenwick & West
Herbert B. Jones Foundation
Providence Health and Services


K&L Gates
Perkins Coie

Friends of the Health Innovation Challenge:

UW Bioengineering

Questions? Contact Terri Butler via email: tlbutler@uw.edu or phone: 206-685-5538.