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Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge

The Hollomon 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.

Learn more about the 2019 event and the winning teams on our Foster Blog!

KING 5 coverage highlighted some of the teams early on in the event and Geekwire shared news of the winners.

Join the 2020 Challenge!
The competition is open to undergrads and grad students at accredited colleges and universities across the Cascadia Corridor – Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia, as well as Alaska.

Prototype Funding Application Deadlines

  • Tuesday, November 19, 2019 round 1
  • Tuesday, January 14, 2020 round 2

Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge Official Deadline

  • Monday, February 10, 2020, noon

2019 Awards and Honors

Nanodropper won the $15,000 IntuitiveX grand prize for their affordable, universal eye dropperRead more about 2019 winners

Appiture won the $10,000 Herbert B. Jones Foundation second place prize for its camera-integrated mobile application that improves the early diagnosis of autism in childrenRead more about 2019 winners

Pulmora won the WRF Capital $5,000 third place prize for its easy-to-use emergency ventilator.Read more about 2019 winners

Nanodropper won the M&M Consulting Medical Device Prize which includes a full-day commercialization workshop (valued at $2,500)Read more about 2019 winners

Appiture won the $2,500 Kent & Lisa Sacia Digital Health Prize for having a high-potential practical digital application of their prototypeRead more about 2019 winners

DopCuff won a $1,000 JARL (Judges Also Really Liked) prize for its device that aims to improve how nurses obtain blood pressure readings in certain patients with end stage heart failure. Read more about 2019 winners

Insulin Anywhere won a $1,000 JARL (Judges Also Really Liked) prize for its portable device that allows diabetic patients to treat themselves for up to a week or longer following a natural disaster. Read more about 2019 winners

2019-20 Dates and Deadlines

1. Generate Your Idea & Form a Team

Health Innovation Practicum | ENTRE 445/545 | Thursdays 5:00-6:50pm, Fall Quarter.
Gain knowledge of current healthcare systems local to global, and hear from successful innovators. See Health Innovation Practicum tab.

Team Formation Events
Innovative? Have an idea? How do you find the right people to join your team? Ideation, figuring out your customers, scoping the competition, and pulling the pieces together. Check out events hosted by the Buerk Center. Pitch your idea, pitch your skills, meet students from disciplines across campus at these fun and casual meetup events.

Upcoming events
See Upcoming Entrepreneurship Events Webpage

Startup Tree |
Use throughout the year! Connect to other entrepreneurship students to build teams or gain advice from our industry advisors by asking them questions! This site also lists event and deadline updates from the Buerk Center. Check out the website here.

2. Build Your Prototype

Prototype Funding Applications | Application deadlines November 19, 2019 and January 14, 2020.
Funds are available for demonstration models or simulations that will help you showcase your idea. More information under the Prototype Funding Tab.

3. Apply

Submit a 5-7 page business summary for official entry into the HIC. Teams will be notified Yes/No by Thursday, Feb 20.

4. Finalists Pitch and Compete at the HIC!

After finishing the competition application, the following information is for accepted and competing teams.

Pitch Workshop for Finalist Teams | Wednesday, February 26
Attendance is mandatory for all teams in the Seattle area going to the finals on Mar 5.

1-Page Business Summary Due for Finalist Teams | Friday, February 28
Summaries sent to every judge before the day of the Challenge so they can decide which demos to visit.

HOLLOMON HEALTH INNOVATION CHALLENGE | Thursday, Mar 5, 1:00-6:00pm, HUB North Ballroom, University of Washington Seattle Campus.
Teams set up demos/simulations in the morning and pitch to a room full of judges early afternoon. Reception follows. Winners announced!


Watch the video above to learn more about HIC.

The Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge

This annual student (undergraduate and graduate) competition each March encourages innovative solutions for big problems the world faces today related to health. In the HIC, student teams from different schools and disciplines focus on a health or health care related problem, design a product, process, or service to fix that problem, and create a business summary that demonstrates the market interest and potential for their idea.

What is Your Idea?

Students can compete with any product, process, or service that highlights a new approach to wellness, to care and treatment, or to safety and access. Innovation is driving robust investment, more than $25 billion in 2017 according to the SEC across health care, biotech, and medical devices. This is an area where innovation can thrive!

Entry Requirements

Any student from a Any student from a Cascadia Corridor – Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia, as well as Alaska – college or university who is enrolled in a degree-seeking program can participate in the Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge (HIC). Teams must be student led. Cross-disciplinary teams are highly encouraged. The most successful teams have members with various skill sets from various departments, including built environments, law, engineering, business, policy, etc. Non-students can be members of a team, generally as advisers, but they can’t present at the HIC, nor can they receive prize money.

What is needed to enter?

What is needed to enter the Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge?
Prototype Funding, apply Nov -Jan (see Prototype Funding Tab)

All Entrants (see Dates and Deadlines tab)

  • 5-7 page Business Summary (DUE Feb 10, 2020)

Top Teams chosen to come to the final event

  • Mandatory Pitch Workshop (Wed, Feb 26, 2020, 5:30-9pm)
  • 1-page business summary (due Fri Feb 28, 2020)
  • 60-second Pitch (at the HIC, March 5, 2020)
  • Demo or prototype (at the HIC, March 5, 2020)

Your submission into the competition is distributed to a large group of community professionals who act as judges.

We strongly encourage any team with concerns regarding intellectual property such as patent or copyright potential to either contact their University’s intellectual property office (for University-developed discoveries) or competent legal counsel (for non-University related discoveries) before submitting their proposal into the competition.

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 summary.
Ultimately, protection of sensitive materials is the sole responsibility of the individual or team participating in the competition.


  1. Teams entering must have at least one full-time or part-time student on the team who is enrolled in a degree seeking program at an accredited college or university in the Cascadia Corridor – Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia, as well as Alaska. If you graduated the summer quarter prior to the year of the competition or later, you are considered a current student in the competition.
  2. The competition entry must be developed during the student’s tenure at the college or university. Students working with outside entrepreneurs must create their own original business plan and have responsibility for their own portion of the business.
  3. All submissions to the Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge must live up to the higher ideals of the University of Washington. The team’s idea must be appropriate for a university-sponsored event. The Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship reserves the right to disqualify any entry that is its judgment violates the letter or the spirit of the competition or exceeds the bounds of social convention.
  4. 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.)
  5. Eligible students can form a team with non-students, but for the sake of this competition, non-students will be considered as advisors.
  6. Students must have an ownership stake in the business or the potential for equity or employment.
  7. Only student team members are eligible to earn prize money. No payments will be made to non-students.

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

Judging Criteria

Screening Round Requirements

  • 5-7 Page Business Summary

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

What should be included in the 5-7 page business summary?

    • Examples:
    • Definition of the Problem
      • Who cares about this problem? What will be different if you solve this problem? What is the size of the problem?
    • Proposed Solution
      • What is your idea for solving the problem you are addressing?
      • What is unique about your solution.
      • Why would customers be excited enough to pay you for your solution?
    • 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?
    • Impact
      • Environmental
      • Energy Use
      • Social
      • Ethics
      • Equity
      • Healthcare Access
      • Supply Chain
      • Community
      • Employee Engagement
    • Questions you should address (use your own format and style)
      • 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?

Final Round Requirements

Top Teams that are invited to the final event must prepare:

      • 1-page business summary
      • 1-minute pitch, mandatory pitch clinic
      • Demonstration or prototype

If your team makes it past the screening round you will be invited to participate in the live half-day competition final event. There the Top Teams have tables set up trade-show style with their prototypes on display. A member of each team gives a 1-minute pitch to the audience of 150+ professionals who will be judging and the judges then circulate and learn more from teams before picking their top choices for the prizes.

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

What should be included in the 1-page business summary?

  • The criteria and contents for the 1-page business summary are the same as those for the 5-7 page summary (above), just shorter and more concise.

What matters for the 1-minute pitch?

  • How motivated, enthusiastic is the team?
  • Does the pitch convey the essential elements of the problem, the solution, and the market opportunity?
  • Does the team understand the problem/solution (from both technical and marketing perspectives)?
  • Has the pitch generated enthusiasm to see the demo?

What should the demonstration or prototype table setup include?

  • 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?

What questions should be answered for the potential for impact?

  • Could this team and this solution have a substantial impact in the market? In healthcare? In people’s lives?
  • Is there a patent in the works?
  • What is the regulatory path, if necessary?
Interested in entering the Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge? Want to meet other students who want to join your team? There are multiple ways to find team members:

  1. Team Formation Events
  2. Startup Tree
  3. Health Innovation Practicum
  4. Capstone Course in Your Major

As long as you have one student on the team who is enrolled in a college or university in the the Cascadia Corridor – Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia, as well as Alaska, your team can enter the Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge.

Questions? Email Terri Butler at [email protected]

  • Team Formation Events “Find Your People”
    Many entrepreneurship events are held on the UW Seattle campus where students can come out and find others who have an interest in working on solving problems together. Many go on to enter the Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge, Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge, or Dempsey Startup Competition. Questions? Email Terri Butler, [email protected] See Entrepreneurship Events page for current information.
  • Startup Tree
    Find teammates through UW StartupTree online. Students log in with their UW net ID. In this web portal you will find some students who have an idea and need more team members to help out and you will also find students with specific skills who are interested in innovation and want to join a team. Think of it as a match-making site for innovators!
  • Health Innovation Practicum
    The fall quarter hands-on Health Innovation Practicum course is another way students can dive in and learn about health challenges while working on team-based projects. Many of the class teams decide to continue on into the extracurricular Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge where they will connect with mentors and further develop their concepts. Learn more in the Health Innovation Practicum: ENTRE 445/545 tab.
  • Capstone Course Teams
    You may be in an engineering, science, or other major that requires a capstone project as a degree requirement. Why not build on that capstone by bringing it in to the Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge where the visibility of your accomplishments can be increased and mentors you connect with can help you take it to the next level?

Health Innovation Practicum

Class: ENTRE 445/545 Health Innovation Challenge Seminar, Autumn Quarter, 2018, 2 credits
Class Hours: Thursdays 5-6:50 pm
Location: PACCAR 391
Office Hours: e-mail [email protected]  to arrange

Text:  Texts will be provided from those available through the UW library. Whenever possible these will be posted for students to download from the Canvas website

Instructor: William J. Canestaro, PhD, Managing Director, Washington Research Foundation/WRF Capital, [email protected]

Course description: This course is designed to give students an overview of the challenges that are necessary for any young business in healthcare or life sciences to consider. By the end of the course students should expect to have an awareness of the system of regulation of health technologies, the process of development for health technologies, and the economics of healthcare.

Course Learning Objective: Healthcare is an industry that, at its best, is built around strong reproducible science with healthcare providers acting as the patient’s agent. This places the consumer in a different position than other markets where they are more in control of their purchases. As such, those working in the area will need to have a grasp of the concepts of entrepreneurship as well as a strong understanding of when the traditional rules of economics and entrepreneurship no longer apply.

Teaching and Class Format

  • Before Class: Each week students will be given a brief reading and around 30 minutes of videos to view before class. These are intended to prepare students for the topic that will be covered in class and ensure that we have a productive use of time together.
  • During Class: As much as possible class time will be designed to be interactive to make the most of our limited time together. This may include discussions of a business case, an activity performed in groups or guest lectures.
  • After Class: After class you will be expected to complete a brief (300-750 words) writing assignment within your class team that will relate to the topic covered in the class. Additionally, you may be asked to identify and interview an expert with domain expertise on the topic covered in class and an awareness of your technology area.

Class Project and Work Outside of Class
In addition to attending and participating in all classes you will also be expected to complete some work outside of class both individually and as part of a team that will be assigned to you.

  • Preparation for Class: As mentioned above, you will be expected to prepare for class each week by completing the readings assigned for the week and watching the roughly 30 min of videos for each week. This will not be graded but will give you the appropriate background to participate in class discussions and activities. For weeks where we have invited speakers, you will be asked to submit questions that you have on the topic prior to class.
  • Domain Expert Interviews: One of the most important activities for any entrepreneur is identifying domain experts, learning from them, and assimilating their feedback into your overall strategy. To hone this ‘soft skill’ your team will be asked to complete at least 3 interviews (~30min) with domain experts over the course of the term. You should decide as soon as possible who will be responsible for each interview so that the effort of scheduling can be spread across the team. Your team will be responsible for providing a brief report of each interview as well as incorporating the feedback from these interviews into your final report.
  • Class Project and Presentation: Within your team you will be asked to complete a project that touches on all of the domains (background science, clinical research, regulatory considerations, economics and reimbursability, ethics) that we have discussed in class. There are 2 ways to complete this project. You can review a technology or healthcare area (pre-approved examples below, alternatives only by permission of the instructor) or you can review a single technology or business idea. You should incorporate your interviews in order to summarize your work throughout the term.


  • Class Participation and Pre-Class Questions (10%)
  • Peer Reviews (10%)
  • Interview Reports (15%)
  • Final Presentation (25%)
  • Final Paper (20%)
  • Weekly Reports (20%)


Objective: Introduce the course and expectations, give students an overview of each of the technology areas so that they can consider which area they will focus on for their project.

In-Class Activity: For the last 30 min of class, students will be divided into their groups. Within their group they will be expected to introduce themselves and rank which technology they would like to work on. Topics pre-approved for this include:

Technology Areas Healthcare Areas
Synthetic Biology Aging
Microbiome based diagnostics or treatments Mental health
mHealth Pricing transparency in healthcare
Internet of Things, connected bio-sensors, and wearables Access and Affordability of healthcare services
Vaccines for cancer or infectious disease, immunotherapy Rural health
Machine learning Women’s health
Blockchain and distributed ledger technologies Maternal health and safety
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Addiction prevention and treatment
Tele-Health Pandemic preparedness
Point-of-care diagnostics Environmental health and safety

Technologies outside of those included on the pre-approved list must be approved by the instructor. Additionally, students may suggest a concept or business idea that they would like to work on through all of the modules for the course.


Objective: Provide an overview of the US healthcare system. This will cover both a description of the healthcare system (how big and how money is spent, what do we get for that spend, etc.) as well as a brief history of how we arrived at our current system and how our system differs from other countries.

Before Class Preparation: Students will be expected to complete a brief reading giving an overview of the US healthcare system as well as read a case study that they will come prepared to discuss.

Watch: Khan Academy Healthcare System Overview
Read: Health System Tracker Health of the Healthcare System: An Overview
Read: Commonwealth Fund US Healthcare System Profile


Objective: Provide a basic understanding of what is patentable and what is not, the process for filing IP and understanding of how to read a patent.

Before Class Preparation: Students will be expected to watch the pre-recorded lectures posted to Canvas on the different types of intellectual property and how they are commonly applied in healthcare and the life sciences. Students will individually be expected to generate at least one question that they have after watching the videos. These questions will be uploaded to canvas and will serve as a starting point for the in-class discussion.

Watch: Crash Course IP (7 videos) IP Playlist
Watch: Lecture IP in Healthcare, important cases


Objective: Provide an overview of how medical technologies are regulated and what are steps need to gain ability for commercial sales.

Before Class Preparation: Students will be expected to prepare 3 questions for the panel of CEO’s and submit them via Canvas.


Objective: Provide an overview of different types of evidence (RCT’s, observational studies, Meta-analyses, diagnostic performance, etc.) used in healthcare and the metrics used to measure their outcomes.

Before Class Preparation: Students will be expected to watch the pre-recorded lecture that covers a description of the medical research enterprise, types of common study

Watch: Lecture
Read: Science Isn’t Broken
Watch: Scientific studies


Objective: Describe why healthcare is different from other types of markets and needs insurance. How do insurance companies work and get paid. Descriptive characteristics of the industry and coverage in the US after ACA. Brief review of reimbursement.

Before Class Preparation: Students will be expected to watch the pre-recorded lectures posted to Canvas on health insurance in the US. Students will individually be expected to generate at least three questions that they have after watching the videos. These questions will be uploaded to canvas and will serve as a starting point for the in-class lectures.


Objective: Provide a basic overview of how health economists evaluate new technologies. Why healthcare presents a case for market failure and can’t be regulated by a free market. Overview of cost-effectiveness.

Before Class Preparation: Students will be expected to watch videos describing some of the core issues in health economics and how technology developers attempt to quantify the value of their inventions.


Objective: Provide an understanding for how teams raise money for early stage ventures. What types of resources exist. How does a typical VC financing get structured and what are risks and benefits for taking equity funding. Difference between convertible notes and priced equity rounds. Brief thoughts on valuation.

Before Class Preparation: Students will be expected to read 1-2 articles on funding for early stage health technologies and watch the pre-recorded lectures on types of investment vehicles and how they operate.

Watch: Khan Academy Videos 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6
Read: How Venture Capital Works


Objective: Provide an overview of the business model canvas in healthcare. Provide examples of different business models for health start-ups.

Before Class Preparation: Students will be expected to complete background reading on the business model canvas and how it is used in healthcare.


Objective: Students will present on their technology areas covering all of the domains covered in the class.

Final Paper: Each team will submit a final paper reviewing the domains covered in the class. Teams will be expected to incorporate feedback from the weekly assignments into their final paper.

Prototype Funding for teams entering the Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge

Prototype funding can spur development and help convey your idea to a broader audience. We have funding available to teams that are entering the Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge this year to help with creating a physical model, object, or device.

Student teams are invited to apply for funds that can be used to:

  • Purchase materials
  • Rent equipment
  • Hire short-term workers with high level skills beyond the team’s capacity

Teams must commit to entering the Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge if accept prototype funding.

Awards are generally between $500-$2500, although other requests will be considered.

Funds can NOT be used for:

  • Marketing or Posters
  • Business cards
  • Displays
  • Signage
  • Computers
  • Digital devices
  • Legal or professional fees

Information you will need to complete the application:

  • Current student team member’s information. (We understand this may change.)
  • Description of the problem you are attempting to solve.
  • Description of the solution you are proposing.
  • Description of the prototype you will build to demonstrate your solution.
  • A budget estimate (itemized list) to build your prototype. Changes are expected but any major changes must be approved by a competition manager.

Resources to Help You

Resources to help you with your 5-7 page business summary for entry into the Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge include:

Entrepreneurship Events

Attend an event to meet other students interested in entrepreneurship and the competitions. Visit our Entrepreneurship Events page.

Startup Resources

Need help figuring out where to do market research, how to write up a business summary, or prepare an elevator pitch? Links to great resources can be found on our Startup Resources page.


  • Buerk Center weekly newsletter – receive the latest updates and reminders
  • Cambia Grove – A regional hub hosting events that bring together health providers, entrepreneurs, and others to bring positive change to health care. Cambia events page.
  • Life Science Washington – A regional organization with workshops and an internship posting page for biomedical, medtech, and biotech companies. Life Science events page.

Startup Tree

Connect to other entrepreneurship students to build teams and learn from each other. Learn more about UW Startup Tree.


Health Innovation Practicum | ENTRE 445/545 | Thursdays, 5:00-6:50pm, Fall Quarter. Team-based course covering the fundamentals of healthcare and startups. The course is helpful, but not required for entering the competition. See Health Innovation Practicum tab.
Business Plan Practicum/Resource Nights | ENTRE 440/540 | Tuesdays, 6:00-7:50pm, Winter Quarter. Speakers and resources that will help you understand how to build a business.

Sponsors and Prizes

2019 Prizes:
$15,000 IntuitiveX Grand Prize
$10,000 Herbert B. Jones Foundation Second Place Prize
$5,000 WRF Capital Third Place Prize

Thank you to our 2019 Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge sponsors for their generosity and dedication to helping students achieve their potential.

Game Changers:
The Hollomon Family
Herbert B. Jones Foundation
Premera Blue Cross
Kent and Lisa Sacia
UW Foster School of Business
UW College of Engineering

Fenwick & West
WRF Capital

Amazon Catalyst
K&L Gates
Perkins Coie
M&M Consulting
UW Department of Biology
UW Department of Bioengineering
UW Medicine

Questions? Contact Terri Butler via email: [email protected] or phone: 206-685-5538.

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

Attend an event

Connect with the Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge