Noted healthcare accelerator Health Wildcatters recently hosted its third hackathon in the Texas Healthcare Challenge (TXHCC) series, but this time, with a twist: The focus was solely on women.
The WISH (Women in Science & Healthcare) hackathon involved over 100 women in science and healthcare fields. It was co-organized by the SoGal Foundation, powered by an award from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and sponsored by Children’s Health, the Southwestern Medical Foundation, IBM, and Texas Health Resources.
“We had tremendous interest in this hackathon, and we were not disappointed with the results,” Health Wildcatters CEO Hubert Zajicek said in a statement. “We saw 13 teams form and pitch ideas as wide ranging as access to care to mental health awareness and patients’ choice of pharmacy to ideas on how to deal with an epidemic like the coronavirus outbreak.”
The 13 teams were comprised of physicians, researchers, and community leaders, who all pitched a range of health-related solutions to vie for the more than $5,000 in cash prizes and $300,000 in-kind prizes.
Two teams took the top $900 prize: FlexRx, with a solution allowing patients to control pharmacy choice, and Cancer Cruiser, a clinic-in-a-bus concept to bring healthcare to consumers.
Seven finalists winning $400 per team included:
- #imatter, a youth suicide and prevention tool;
- Clean-icians, a handwashing compliance tool;
- Mind Map, a mental health solution for enhancing the usefulness of therapy sessions;
- Chimera, a solution addressing the gender gap in clinical studies;
- The Lab Avengers, lab simulation software for optimizing clinical laboratories;
- #Free My Pain, a digital tool for opioid addiction prevention; and
- The Match Makers, a tool for assisting the transition from academia to industry.
Cancer Cruiser, FlexRx, and #imatter also each received $100,000 in IBM cloud credits. Cancer Cruiser completed its award sweep by also taking the popular vote crown.
The focus on women, especially around startups and entrepreneurship, is significant. Although the amount of venture capital going to all-female founder teams is currently at an all-time high $3.3 billion, it’s still a relative drop in the bucket representing only 2.8 percent of all capital invested in the startup ecosystem, according to Pitchbook.
“We need to address the funding gap at several levels,” said Rachel West, WISH co-director and SoGal Dallas Lead, in a statement. “The goal is to equip female entrepreneurs with education, support, and mentoring at all stages. By partnering with the ecosystem to develop events like WISH, we can develop a support network for women entrepreneurs early- on in their journey and build on the pipeline in the startup ecosystem to be more inclusive and diverse.”
You might recognize the SoGal Foundation, a platform for the empowerment and education of diverse entrepreneurs and investors, when its Global Pitch Competition stopped by Dallas in November. Dubbed the “largest worldwide startup competition for women and diverse entrepreneurs,” the event provided founders with the chance to pitch to an all-star panel of investors.
The #WISH2020 hackathon is the first of many steps to offer guidance and encouragement for an important demographic, West said, adding that diversity is a team effort and the collaborative spirit in the Dallas community that brought the event to fruition was inspiring.
The event included entrepreneurial journey presentations from a group of CEOs, too: Dr. Smriti Zaneveld (Lazarus 3D), Kristen Valdes (B.Well), and Sulagna Bhattacharya (Nanoscope Technologies).
Volunteer directors for #WISH2020 included: Avery Spencer, Rachel West, Mike Gillespie, Kim Whatcott, Lily Chou, Tyler Piazza, Lance Manning, Esha Vaid, Anna Savelyeva, Karine Pozo, Andrea Lipton, Lindsey Settles, and Hubert Zajicek. Judging the event were Lauren Tyra (Green Park & Golf Ventures), Neta Batscha (RA Capital), Lisa Flesher (VP of Children’s Health), Katherine Lusk (Chief Information & Exchange Officer of Children’s Health), and Brittany Lebling (Southwestern Medical Foundation).
Meet the WISH teams
All photos courtesy of Health Wildcatters.
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