Challenge prize

Each of the three winning teams will each receive a cash prize and a six-month membership at MATTER.

  • 1st place: $15,000
  • 2nd place: $10,000
  • 3rd place: $5,000

One of these three winning teams will also have the opportunity to pilot their solution with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois.

What is health equity?

Every person deserves an opportunity to be as healthy as possible. Health equity means reducing and, ultimately, eliminating disparities in health.

Unlike equality, which treats everyone the same despite disparate outcomes, equity takes people’s different histories, challenges and needs into consideration. Consider the following:

  • The average life expectancy in Chicago’s Loop is 85 years. For residents of West Garfield Park, the average is less than 69 years. [1]
  • Rural communities experience higher age-adjusted death rates and a higher number of potentially excess deaths from the five leading causes compared with urban areas. [2]
  • Lower-income households are three times more likely to die “from anything” than households earning more than $115,000. [3]

Submission criteria

This challenge is open to university researchers, students, entrepreneurs and existing startups of all stages. Solutions can range from early stage concepts to on-market products, and may include services, digital technologies or tools.

Read the Health Equity Innovation Challenge FAQ for more information.

Challenge timeline


Submission process

Have an idea? Submit a 3-minute pitch video by November 12, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. CT. Three to five finalists will be invited to participate in a live pitch event at MATTER in Chicago, Illinois.

All finalists will have the opportunity to get feedback on their ideas from leading experts in health equity at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, as well as from Chicago-based hospitals, health systems and community organizations.

Finalists will pitch their solutions to the panel of judges on December 3, 2018. Finalists must be present to win.

Read the Health Equity Innovation Challenge FAQ for more information.

Areas of interest and inspiration

This challenge is open to all creative ideas and solutions for advancing health equity. Below are a few examples that challenge participants may consider.

Reduce disparities in health and health care
Some populations experience worse health than others. How can we use data and analytics to reduce disparities and advance health equity?

Increase access to care
Getting the right care is challenging when a person lacks insurance or when health care services are far away. How might we improve access to care for groups with poor health outcomes?

Help people find the right resources
Navigating the health care system is a challenge. How might we make it easier for people to find and access culturally appropriate resources and services so they can better manage their conditions and lead healthier lives?

Address the social determinants of health
Health starts where we live, learn, work and play. How might we address the social and economic conditions that adversely affect quality of life and health outcomes?

About our partners

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) is committed to expanding access to quality, cost-effective health to as many people as possible in Illinois. BCBSIL is dedicated to innovation and exploring, nurturing and activating future possibilities to make the health care system work better for our members and our communities.

Executive sponsors

“Health equity is not just the right thing to pursue; it makes good business sense and aligns with our corporate purpose.” — Dr. Derek J. Robinson, Vice President & Chief Medical Officer, BCBSIL

  • Dr. Derek J. Robinson, Vice President & Chief Medical Officer
  • Joel Farran – Senior Vice President & Chief Brand Officer
  • Addison McGuffin – Vice President, IT Innovation & Engagement
  • Carl McDonald – Divisional Senior Vice President, Treasury, Finance and Business Development


MATTER, the premier health care incubator and innovation hub, includes 200 cutting-edge startups from around the world, working together with hospitals and health systems, universities and industry-leading companies to build the future of health care. Together, the MATTER community is accelerating innovation, advancing care and improving lives. For more information, visit and follow @MATTERhealth.


[1] “FAQs.” West Side United, 28 Feb. 2018,
[2] Garcia MC, Faul M, Massetti G, et al. Reducing Potentially Excess Deaths from the. MMWR Surveill Summ 2017;66(No. SS-2):1–7. DOI:
[3] “Ten Fast Facts About Health Disparities.” Sage Communications, July 2017,

MATTER, an independent company, is collaborating with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois to sponsor the Health Equity Challenge.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, a Division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company, an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association