Money & Business

Crowdfunding To Help Decide Next Big Thing in Heart Health

By / Feb 10, 2014 (photo by bilderheld/Flickr)

Through the Open Innovation Challenge, the American Heart Association hopes to get closer to its goal of improving Americans’ cardiovascular health by 20 percent by 2020.

The key to crowdfunding success? Pull at the heartstrings of your audience.

That’s what the New York City affiliate of the American Heart Association aims to do in its first-ever Open Innovation Challenge, a program that is part of the AHA’s Health Science Innovation and Investment Forum.

In the multistage program that both crowdsources ideas and crowdfunds a handful of finalists, AHA hopes to identify—and lay a foundation for developing—innovative technologies in the field of heart health.

“We made a call to entrepreneurs in the health sciences space and asked them to use consumer technology to design something that will help the AHA achieve its 2020 impact goals, which are to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent and reduce heart-disease-related deaths by 20 percent by the year 2020,” said Jarod Hector, AHA’s director of development.

The group received over 45 submissions when the program opened in November, and they worked to narrow the field down to 10. Projects range from a medical-record binder with an embedded audio recorder that can capture a doctor’s orders to a medication-adherence system that uses text messaging to remind patients or their caregivers that it’s time to take their pills.

Three winners, to be chosen later this month, will receive grants totaling $25,000 and be asked to present their projects at the forum on March 6. That selection process is rather innovative in and of itself.

“The three winners are going to be determined through a combination of factors,” Hector explained. “Everything from the total number of shares on social media to scores from a panel of experts who will review the projects to how much they are able to raise through our crowdfunding platform will be looked at.”

No matter the final standings, the money the 10 entrepreneurs raise will be theirs to keep and put toward their project.

“Promotion is a large part of it,” said Hector. “We are promoting the Open Innovation Challenge as a whole, but it’s really up to the individual entrepreneurs to really utilize the resources they have to promote their project and drive traffic toward the website. It’s also a function of how good the project is, and how well it resonates with the audience that you’re trying to serve.

“It’s only the first year, so there’s a lot of trial and error with this right now,” he said. “But this is really all part of a larger conversation that we’re trying to have around encouraging innovation in the health sciences, and that’s what we ultimately hope this challenge does.”

Rob Stott

Rob Stott is a contributing editor for Associations Now. More »

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