The Center for Behavioral Health + Smart Technology’s

National Innovation Contest


The Center for Behavioral Health + Smart Technology’s National Innovation Contest invites contestants who can formulate creative new ideas that can solve the inventor’s dilemma to simultaneously improve health and reduce health care spending.  Win up to $10,000 and an expense-paid trip to Pittsburgh to meet with entrepreneurs, investors, and UPMC executives and attend our health technology conference.

new date 9 15 2016


Contest Details

 Round 1                    Round 2                 Round 3

How to make a video                               Frequently Asked Questions

Submit Here

In October 2015, The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a Viewpoint paper that identified several obstacles to developing cost-lowering health care technology in the United States.  It described the central barrier as the inventor’s dilemma.  The authors stated, “The inventor’s dilemma is that creating a product that improves health is not enough.”  To succeed, the product “must also be able to generate a healthy return on investment (and) the surest way to generate (it) is to increase health care spending, not reduce it” (JAMA. 2015;314:1447-48).

Among the solutions proposed in the JAMA Viewpoint to help solve the inventor’s dilemma was the use of prizes to entice creative thinkers to develop novel strategies that address this issue.  Contests offering incentive prizes have long been used to encourage a wide variety of non-traditional participants and approaches, and to attract public attention to the problem at hand.  Prominent examples include the Longitude Prize offered by the British Navy to develop an accurate chronometer for navigation at sea; the Orteig Prize to the first aviator to fly non-stop between New York and Paris awarded to Charles Lindberg; and the Netflix Prize to develop a software algorithm that substantially improves the accuracy of predictions about how much someone is going to enjoy a movie based on their past viewing preferences.

In 2014, the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at the University of Pittsburgh launched the Pitt Innovation Challenge (PInCh).  PInCh contests are designed to: (1) incentivize multidisciplinary teams to solve clinically relevant problems; (2) select high-value proposals through a novel review mechanism; and (3) support highly innovative projects with funding, project management, and resources.  Now entering its third year, PInCh and its spin-off competitions have been a popular success.  However, entrants have been limited to teams comprised of University of Pittsburgh faculty members.

Contest Details and Prizes

The Center for Behavioral Health + Smart Technology’s National Innovation Contest is a three-round prize competition open to anyone living in the United States regardless of their affiliation with the University of Pittsburgh.  Individuals or teams entering Round 1 will upload a three-minute, narrated PowerPoint that describes their idea and how it addresses the inventor’s dilemma on a website created for this Contest.  Submissions selected for Round 2 will then submit a brief written document to expand on their team’s idea.

We will select up to five submissions as finalists for Round 3.  Round 3 finalists will each be awarded a $2,500 prize and the opportunity to pitch their ideas before a panel of investors, entrepreneurs, and UPMC executives in Pittsburgh, PA, on the evening of November 10, 2016.  There, judges will select one Round 3 proposal for an additional $7,500 prize ($10,000 total).  The following day all Round 3 finalists will have the opportunity to meet privately with members of our judging panel for further feedback on their ideas.  This may include the possibility of developing their submissions into working prototypes and other ventures beyond our contest.

Our Contest will also provide travel, lodging, ground transportation, and conference registration for up to two members from each finalist team to travel to Pittsburgh from anywhere within the continental United States. (up to $2,500 per team).

Round 1

To enter, click on the “Submit Here” link that will direct you to the Powered by PInCh website.  Here you will create your profile and submit all materials for your project.  Round 1 will close to new submissions on Tuesday, August 30, 2016 at 5:00 p.m. EST  Monday, September 5, 2016 at 11:59 p.m. EST. 

To be eligible for Round 1, you must submit a link to a three-minute narrated PowerPoint description of your project.

Your video submission must meet the following requirements:

  1. It must be three minutes or less in length.
  2. It must describe a problem or new area requiring exploration in the field of behavioral health.
  3. It must propose a solution that can be scaled and is feasible to prototype for further evaluation.
  4. It must summarize how your proposed solution solves the inventor’s dilemma.
  5. It must be posted on a video sharing website (e.g., YouTube, Vimeo).  When posting your video on a hosting site, please:
    • Disable comments
    • Ensure the video settings allow download
    • Remove all copyrighted materials (e.g. background music)

If your video is password protected, please provide the password along with the video link.


Round 2

If your idea is selected to advance to Round 2, we will notify you via email by Friday, September 16, 2016.

To submit a Round 2 entry:

  1. Login to the Powered By PInCh website.
  2. Upload your project package before the Round 2 submission period closes on Friday, September 23, 2016, at 5:00 p.m. EST Monday, September 26, 2016, at 5:00 p.m. EST.

Submission Requirements

The project package for Round 2 will include:

  1. Project description (up to three pages)
    • Title
    • Executive summary (200 words or less)
    • Problem statement
    • Solution description
      • Describe the approach/methodology for developing your solution.
      • Highlight the novel aspect(s) of your solution compared to other existing solutions.
      • Describe the typical user of your solution and the number of potential users (market opportunity).
      • Discuss the feasibility of your solution (how you envision your solution being scaled-up and provided in the real world).
      • Describe your solutions’ technology requirements (e.g., user accessibility, technology requirements).
      • Summarize how your solution addresses the inventor’s dilemma.
  2. References (optional, one page)
  3. Team members (name, experience, and expertise they bring to the team; (two pages)

 Page format must follow:

  1. One-inch margins
  2. Minimum 11-point font for text
  3. Document saved in .PDF format
  4. May include color, figures, tables, images


Round 3

We will notify you by email on or before October 7, 2016 if your project is selected as a Round 3 finalist.  To continue as a Round 3 finalist and be awarded $2,500, we may ask you to submit a brief response to reviewers’ comments, and at least one member of your team must agree to come to Pittsburgh to pitch your solution to the inventor’s dilemma before a panel of investors, capitalists, entrepreneurs, and UPMC executives who will select the winning contestant the evening of November 10, 2016.  

A member of your team must be present for your idea to be eligible for our $7,500 prize.  Our Center will work with you to arrange your travel, lodging, and conference registration that we will cover in addition to your prize award (up to $2,500 per team; see FAQ).

All invited Round 3 finalists will also have the opportunity to meet privately the next day with members of our judging panel and other interested parties for further feedback on their ideas.  This may include the possibility of developing their submissions into working prototypes and other ventures beyond our Contest.

To submit a Round 3 entry:

  1. If applicable, upload your brief response to reviewers by Friday, October 21, 2016 at 5:00 p.m. EST via the Powered by PInCh website.
  2. Prepare a five minute pitch to present at the Final Round 3 pitch event on Thursday, November 10, 2016.

Pitch Requirements:
Your pitch at the Round 3 event must meet the following requirements:

  1. The pitch must be five minutes or less in length.  Afterwards, you will receive an additional five minutes to answer questions from the judges (total: 10 minutes).
  2. A maximum of two team members may deliver the pitch.
  3. No PowerPoint slides will be permitted for the pitch.
  4. Props are allowed and an easel with a flip chart will be provided to support your presentation.

We look forward to receiving your creative submissions and strategies for addressing the inventor’s dilemma!

Thank you,

Bruce L. Rollman, MD, MPH
Director, Center for Behavioral Health and Smart Technology

John Maier, MD, PhD
PInCh Program Director

Rasu Shrestha, MD, MBA
Chief Innovation Officer, UPMC
Executive Vice President, UPMC Enterprises

Sakena Washington, MFA
Program Administrator, Center for Behavioral Health and Smart Technology