About the Challenge

The Bay Area Global Health Innovation Challenge is an annual competition hosted by the University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University, and the HealthRoots Foundation for Global Health. We offer student teams from universities worldwide the opportunity to present their ideas for low-cost, high-impact, and scalable global health innovations.

Every year, following an open call for submissions, the top teams are invited to the San Francisco Bay Area for a one-day event to present their innovations to a panel of judges composed of potential investors, philanthropists, and experts in health, design, and global development, as well as the opportunity to participate in mentoring workshops with leaders from our partner organizations, and network with their peers from around the globe. These teams compete for the grand prize of $10,000 in seed funding, and unique mentorship, idea development, and exposure opportunities.

This year's Challenge partners are world leaders in health, design, tech and impact investing, who support the Challenge and participating teams in a variety of ways — offering team mentorship and guidance, expert submission reviewers, panelists and workshop leaders at the Challenge in May, and more. We're thrilled to welcome DRK Foundation, IDEO.org, Kaiser Permanente Design Consultancy, Medtronic Labs, and PATH to the Challenge this year. (And watch for more announcements soon!).

Past judges have included investors from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the founding CEO of Yahoo!, the Chief Strategy Officer of PATH, the President of Global Development at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Product Manager for Health at Facebook, the President and CEO of Bioness, Inc. as well as board members from the Global Health Research Foundation and the International Aids Vaccine Initiative. In participating in the Challenge, we seek to offer student teams the following:

  1. Exposure and sponsorship: Aside from the $10,000 grand prize to the winning team, all finalist teams will have the opportunity to pitch their ideas to high-level judges who are interested in supporting student teams who win them over with funding, mentorship, and other in-kind support opportunities. 

  2. Mentorship and networking: Finalist teams have the opportunity to network, not only with their peers from around the globe, but also with top Bay Area social investors, philanthropists, and educators who have committed to mentoring student teams through a series of workshops, talks, and one-on-one networking events to be held during the competition.

  3. Expert feedback: Ideas will be evaluated by top researchers and scientists in the field of global health hailing from from UC Berkeley, Stanford, other Bay Area schools, as well as technology and industry partners

 

2018 Application Process

  • January 23 - February 16, 2018 Application Round One: Team Registration (open to all).
  • February: Semi-finalist teams will be selected.
  • March: Application Round Two: Semi-finalist teams submit video/slide deck. Finalist teams will be notified and invited to the Challenge.
  • April: Finalist Team Mentorship & Development.
  • May: Finalist teams meet in San Francisco for networking events, mentorship and idea development, culminating in a Public Pitch Event & Award Ceremony.

    Visit the FAQ Page for more information.

 

2018 Focus Areas

This year, we have defined key focus areas in health (the need an idea addresses), and innovation (the approach by which it is addressed). Exceptional “Wild Card” ideas are accepted and encouraged, although priority will be given to ideas in our focus areas for the year. We are working closely with partners in impact investing, information technology, medical device development, design, clinical care delivery, and global health to develop unique learning, mentorship, and professional development opportunities for this year’s teams.

Participating teams will be asked to select one Health Category, and (at least) one Innovation Category for their submission. Expert reviewers, mentors, and judges from these fields and subject areas will be available before, and during the competition to the finalist teams. 

Health Categories

  • Humanitarian Health
  • Planetary Health 
  • Infectious Disease
  • Non-Communicable Disease

Innovation Categories

  • Product (Hardware)
  • Product (Software)
  • Diagnostics 
  • Data & Informatics
  • Human Centered Design
  • Service Delivery & Implementation
     

Challenge History

Students and early-career academic professionals have direct access to grants and academic support, coupled with community engagement and on-the-ground knowhow, however sometimes lack the expertise and experience to translate their ideas into market-ready, scalable, and sustainable solutions. The Bay Area Global Health Innovation Challenge seeks to serve as a bridge between ideas that originate in academia and the global health marketplace.

In the challenge’s inaugural year, held side-by-side with the 2016 Consortium of Universities in Global Health (CUGH) conference in San Francisco, more than 85 student teams, representing 13 countries participated. Submissions covered a broad variety of subject areas, ranging from a mobile application that sought to reduce the incidence of road traffic injuries, an RFID tracking device to increase immunization rates, and a self-administered screening device to estimate risk of cervical cancer and, if necessary help users locate and receive medical care.

The winner of the 2016 challenge was comprised of a team of undergraduate students from the University of Chicago who proposed a social enterprise to propagate mealworm farms that are constructed with recycled materials in impoverished and crowded urban areas. Their innovative use for this income-generating enterprise turned the cultivated mealworms into a protein-rich flour that can be sold to local bakeries, or sold as as a fertilizer to small-scale farms.

The winner of the 2017 challenge was a recent graduate from a doctoral program at the University of California, Berkeley who proposed a means for providing affordable and clean drinking water through technological and business innovations to those relying on contaminated groundwater as their main source of drinking water. As the challenge continues to evolve, we continue to seek and support projects with broad, multi-dimensional implications on human health, the environment, and the economy.

We will continue to host the event annually at Stanford and UC Berkeley, drawing upon the San Francisco Bay Area’s expertise in the innovation, social entrepreneurship, healthcare, and academic sectors. All student teams are expected to plan for their own travel and lodging should they be accepted to the challenge, and are encouraged to work with their schools to do so. In exceptional cases, funding may be available to support the travel of outstanding teams that lack the financial means to attend the event, especially those from low and middle-income countries.