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USF to host healthcare innovation competition

Tampa, FL (May 9, 2013) — Next week, innovators from across the state will gather in downtown Tampa to share their ideas for revolutionizing the quality and delivery of healthcare -- and they may receive a chance to make those ideas reality.

On Tuesday, May 14, at the Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation (CAMLS), nine students from USF will be pitching their ideas for innovations in healthcare, along with 10 non-student innovators from across Florida. Each presenter will receive $1,000 simply for presenting, but will also have a chance to be selected for the Florida Healthbox Accelerator Program -- an incubator-type program that identifies high-potential healthcare technology startups and provides them with the resources, support, and network to enable rapid development and growth. Two Healthbox executives will be on the panel at the event that will evaluate the presentations, along with local business professionals and USF faculty.

Florida Blue and the USF Center for Entrepreneurship are partnering to promote this program to encourage early-stage healthcare innovation and entrepreneurship in the state of Florida. Center for Entrepreneurship Director Michael Fountain said the event is focusing on innovation in order to make the biggest possible impact in the Florida healthcare industry.

"We told Florida Blue, 'We really want to change the ecosystem here in Southwest Florida and throughout the state, and the only way we're going to do that is if we go back to the earliest stages,'" Fountain said.

Each participant will present for eight minutes and then take seven minutes of questions. The presentation will need to address a challenge currently faced by the healthcare industry. The innovations fit into three main categories, Fountain said: medical devices, medical instruments, and medical software.

This year, Healthbox has two 16-week accelerator programs in Chicago and Florida and will provide $50,000 to entrepreneurs in the program to fund their development. The Florida program begins in July. While no presenter at Tuesday's event is guaranteed entry into the Healthbox Accelerator Program, the criteria for selection were based on the accelerator program requirements.

"They have to be laser-focused on what's new and different about the innovation, identify a solution for solving a problem in healthcare, and articulate how this new innovation will positively impact the quality and delivery of healthcare," Fountain said.

Fountain, a successful entrepreneur who has successfully commercialized medical and diagnostic products such as sustained release anti-cancer drugs, dermatologic products, and vaccines for the prevention of human and animal diseases, said he is excited to see what students and businesses bring to the table.

"What this shows is that USF, at the student level, is doing an exceptional job of developing new innovations that are worthy of consideration," Fountain said. "The criteria were identical for the open competition and the students. When the evaluators took a look at this, they didn't know whether it was a student or a company in the community."

The Center for Entrepreneurship is a nationally ranked, interdisciplinary center, and is part of the USF Muma College of Business, in collaboration with the USF College of Engineering, the Morsani College of Medicine, and the Patel School of Global Sustainability.