1776 Challenge Cup Gives Best and Brightest Startups a Chance to Win Big

By Sarah Sonies

Sixteen competed, but only two could win. In what proved to be both a competition and an impromptu lesson on prosthetics, health care startups from all over the world pitched their ideas Thursday night for a chance to win $150,000 in prizes and funding.

Called the Challenge Cup, the competition is part of the Challenge Festival. Produced by startup incubator 1776, the festival is a week of events in Washington, DC, showcasing innovators from around the world who seek transformative solutions to global challenges.

Held May 10-May 17, the first annual festival culminated in the Challenge Cup Global Finals, where 64 international startups from 16 cities around the world were selected by the 1776 team to share their ideas in four areas: energy, education, health, and smart cities.

Announced Saturday night, the Challenge Cup grand prize was awarded to San Francisco startup HandUp, a company that allows people to make small online donations to homeless individuals or other neighbors in need. The company partners with community organizations, like shelters or service organizations, to help create plans for the distribution and use of the money.

The Health Semifinals, presented by Challenge Festival partner MedStar Health, featured startups across the spectrum of care delivery improvement, from innovative uses of big data, to quality improvement initiatives, to physician referral models.

Startups pitching included BeTH (Benevolent Technologies Health), a company that works on improving the cost and comfort level of prosthetic and orthopedic products by reformatting the user experience; Dorsata, digital conversion software designed to enable physicians to utilize improved care pathways through EMR integration; CareMerge, a digital care coordination site geared towards seniors, whose mobile app and web apps allow senior living communities to simplify their care coordination efforts with facility staff, physicians, hospitals, and families; and ReferralMD, which tracks and monetizes health care referrals.

Many of the startups are partnering with teaching hospitals, medical schools, and health systems to improve care delivery, including UVA Health System, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine (Dorsata), Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine (BeTH), and Ichan School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ReferralMD).

Thursday’s two winners, Chicago-based @CancerIQ and Israel-based @MediSafeProject, were each awarded $100,000 and $50,000 respectively and moved on to the Global Challenge Cup Finals on Saturday, May 17.

To see the full list of all 64 Challenge Cup startup competitors and to read full interviews with the health finalists, please visit the Challenge Cup website.

ssonies1Sarah Sonies is associate editor of Wing of Zock. She can be reached at ssonies@aamc.org or on Twitter @ssonies.