During the month of October, the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing will be accepting applications to its Innovation Accelerator, a new, yearlong program open to students and faculty.
The program aims to support the creation and testing of early-stage solutions to improve health and healthcare outcomes “with a priority on populations of greatest need,” the school said.
The projects can address any specific problem or need within healthcare, said Marion Leary, the school’s director of innovation. That could include anything from heart disease to the opioid epidemic to telemedicine.
“We’re purposefully keeping it very open,” Leary said. “I don’t know what we’re going to get, which is the really exciting part.”
The accelerator cohort, which in its first year will probably include about three groups, will get mentorship and coaching to develop their problem-solving innovation, as well as a stipend of up to $10,000 for research, Leary said.
Undergraduate and graduate students with at least one year left of their program and faculty are welcome to apply. They can collaborate with members of the university who are not in the nursing school, as long as the leader on the project is within the school.
Criteria for the application include:
- The potential of the proposed product or process to add value to health or healthcare
- Feasibility of the innovation and ability to practically implement
- Thoroughness of approach (timeline, milestones)
- Novelty of the innovation
- Strength of the team
- Potential for commercialization or sustainability of the proposed solution
The accelerator aligns with a push to prioritize innovative thinking within the program, Leary said. She has been teaching the class “Innovation in Health: Foundations of Design Thinking.”
Applications for the accelerator will be open during the month of October, and interviews will take place in November. The cohort will be chosen by the end of the year. In January, the accelerator will jump off with a pitch day.
The program will run during the entirety of 2020, and the winner will be chosen by a panel of judges late next year. Leary said she hopes the program grows to host a larger cohort in following years.
“The idea is to get them to start thinking about how they can solve problems in health and healthcare,” she said. “Healthcare innovation doesn’t happen in a silo.”