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image of judges at florida blue pitch competition

Students pitch health innovations at 10th annual Florida Blue Pitch Competition

TAMPA – An in-ear wearable technology device that continually monitors brain health. A mental health and wellness app that gives college students affordable access to coaching. A care package that contains items to help children and families process trauma through mental healing activities.

These are some of the prize-winning health innovation ideas presented at the 10th annual Florida Blue Pitch Competition, held on April 28 at the USF Health Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation in downtown Tampa.

The annual competition is hosted by the USF Center for Entrepreneurship at the Muma College of Business. More than 80 college students across Florida applied for a chance to pitch their health innovation idea in this year’s contest, organizers said.

image of pitch finalists

Fourteen applicants representing six universities were named finalists and given the chance to present their ideas to a panel of judges working in the healthcare and tech industries. The 2023 topics included mental health and stress, the high cost of hospitals, the siloing of data, rural accessibility, transparency pricing, maternal/infant care, and any open topic in healthcare.

The 2023 winners are:

  • Meditrack Geo — Sarah Schellhase, a biomedical engineering senior at the University of South Florida, won first place and $20,000 with Meditrack Geo.
  • Eufinity Wellness — Aashi Faldu, a biology student at the University of Florida, took second place and received $10,000. Faldu is founder of Eufinity, a mental health startup app that provides college students with anonymous, affordable, and accessible mental coaching.
image of niura pitch
  • Niura — Dang Nguyen, a biomedical engineering senior at USF, placed third and won $5,000. Nguyen co-founded Niura, a company that pioneers earbuds with electroencephalogram technology for continual monitoring of brain wave signals to detect brain abnormalities such as epilepsy and early-stage neurological disease indicators.
  • Bree’s Boxes — Sabrina Ruff, an entrepreneurship junior at Florida Gulf Coast University, won the $2,500 Special Award. These themed boxes include items geared to the five senses that allow the brain to process trauma or grief through mental healing activities.

The annual competition is a statewide contest open to students from every college and university in the state. Each year, organizers provide a list of healthcare challenge topics that applicants should address.

image of brees boxes pitch

This year’s judges were Christian HG Brown, an investor in Human Capital Solutions and a member of the Board of Advisors at the USF Center for Entrepreneurship; Jason Swoboda, the director of innovation at Tampa General Hospital; Matthew Tierney, the regional finance and analytics leader at Florida Blue; and Mark Hunter, the founder, CEO, CFO and director of many companies, and an angel investor in over 150 tech start-ups.

Mary Maloney, a brand strategist for Revealing Genius, gave the keynote address.

In the past 10 years, more than 300 students from over 20 different colleges and universities have competed for cash awards provided by Florida Blue.

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