I’ve been participating in some of the reviews for applications to present at the Health Data Initiative Forum on June 9 sponsored by the Institute of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health. I gotta say, it is a lot of fun being the evaluator and hearing some really passionate entrepreneurs describe their health technology projects.
Many of the apps/teams/projects being presented are early-stage ideas, ones that are in the prototyping phase (but past the “just an idea” phase). It’s actually been incredibly interesting watching the teams pitch their prototypes and apps on how to improve public health. Many of the projects are awesome and impactful – but sadly I’ve got no money to invest in these projects. In fact, I don’t think the government should play the role of an investor – this is tax-payer money after all and should be used somewhat conservatively. However, the one thing the Department can do is help connect the projects with the right people to make things happen. For example, we can make connections between app developers, government agencies, and industry players where some of their apps can be supported or be distributed to more users.
So what do I personally look for when reviewing the pitches?
- Does the project fulfill a demonstrated need and provide a tangible benefit to users?
- Are customers better off after utilizing your project?
- Sustainability and scalability – does the project have potential beyond your prototype or beta-test base?
- How far along are you – are you just an idea or did you make something?