Recap: Top questions and answers from the Health Tech Venture Challenge info session

On September 12, innovators gathered at MATTER to learn more about the 2019 Health Tech Venture Challenge: A collaboration between Advocate Aurora Health and MATTER which launched in August and is currently seeking submissions for solutions that reimagine the aging experience.

At the event, leaders from Advocate Aurora Health included Nicole Paulk, senior vice president for strategy and innovation and Naveed Moosa, director of new business innovation. Bilal Naved, COO of MATTER startup and last year’s challenge winner, Clearstep (formerly Lytic), also joined to share his team’s experience collaborating with the health system.

The challenge focus was derived from Advocate Aurora Health’s overall purpose: To help people live well, across their lifespans and in any environment.

“You’ll notice that [our purpose] is not specifically focused on clinical care delivery. That is very deliberate,” Nicole shared at the event.

The Health Tech Venture Challenge is specifically seeking solutions that address one or more issues related to care coordination, social determinants of health and preventive care — solutions which will enable aging adults to live safely, independently and comfortably in their own homes and communities.

“We believe there are services we can provide to aging folks and their families that are beyond healthcare.” - Nicole Paulk, Advocate Aurora Health

“We believe there are services we can provide to aging folks and their families that are beyond healthcare,” said Nicole, “We know that a lot of what determines health outcomes is not occurring within our walls. It has to do with nutrition, with whether they’re lonely, if they have adequate housing…So we’re beginning to incorporate care models that consider all of those aspects. We see this challenge as a way to fuel that work.”

Want to learn more? Here are our key takeaways from the event’s top questions.

Why aging?
Because every day in the United States, about 10,000 people turn 65. This trend will continue for the next 19 years.

Naveed: “There’s a silver tsunami coming, and we’re woefully unprepared for everything that’s going to happen. We’re getting ahead of that.”

What does the ideal candidate look like?
Naveed: “What’s really, really important is your ability to collaborate with us…It [may be] a new space for [you] and for us, and that notion of being able to innovate together is really important.

“We must [also] move fast. Acceleration and speed-to-action are crucial.”

Nicole: “There are a number of solutions out there in this space. We’re looking for something that has a slightly different take on the problem. We’re beginning to develop a competency internally around human-centered design, so we really want to see a solution where the end-user and their unmet needs are being addressed, whether it’s the caregiver or the patient, or other family members.”

How advanced does my solution need to be?
Naveed: “It’s got to be beyond just an idea. You’ve got to have the beginning of something built…You need some level of organization, a business concept, the willingness to evolve…Part of that willingness to evolve is to know that there’s someplace you’re headed.”

Bilal: “Yes, we presented our minimum viable product (MVP), but we also presented our broad vision. From the feedback that we’ve been receiving, it was the MVP, but also that vision, because it aligned with [Advocate Aurora Health’s] vision for 2025. The vision is equally as important as the idea.

“We were, by far, the most early stage finalist…What we learned was that being honest with where you’re at and leveraging that actually served in our favor…We said that the advantage to us being early is that we’re moldable, so we can align our goals and understand where we best fit to build something together and to collaborate.”

“Winning the competition accelerated our growth. It immediately gave us visibility and brand value and speaks [to the fact] that the vision we’re going for is something that health systems want.” - Bilal Naved, Clearstep

How did Clearstep benefit from winning last year’s challenge?
Bilal: “Winning the competition accelerated our growth. It immediately gave us visibility and brand value and speaks [to the fact] that the vision we’re going for is something that health systems want.

“It also helped us to validate our approach because soon thereafter, we had about 30 to 40 hours of meetings…It can be really hard to get 30 hours of meetings with subject matter experts. That can take a year, and it was provided to us in a month to three months. That allowed us to find where within the system our solution was best positioned, what about our solution was most valuable to the system, and eventually identify the people who would raise their hand and say, ‘I want that.’”

What if my solution is too “niche” for this challenge?
Nicole: “Last year, we had a number of applications that weren’t a perfect it, but they were very valuable, and we’ve actually formed relationships with some of the companies that have applied even though they weren’t a perfect fit for the challenge.

“If you think you have something of value to add to the challenge — even if it’s not a direct hit — I would still encourage you to apply if you’re interested. There are many ways to connect with us, and there are many ways to learn from you.”

Applications for the Health Tech Venture Challenge are due Tuesday, September 24.

Other questions? Read the challenge FAQ or email