Innovation Clinic Day 1: Innovation Tournaments

Innovation Clinic Day 1
Innovation Clinic host Christian Terwiesch (l) and co-organizer Brian Litt.

One key piece of the Mack Institute’s mission is to enable innovation across the Penn community. To that end, on November 7th the institute hosted the first of its Innovation Clinics, a workshop series aimed at the intersection of medicine, engineering, and business.

The goal of this and subsequent clinics is to help establish and empower a community of innovators on Penn’s campus. The pilot was led by Christian Terwiesch, Andrew M. Heller Professor and Mack Institute Co-director, and co-organized by Brian Litt, Director of the Center of Neuroengineering and Therapeutics. Attendees included faculty, postdoctoral fellows, masters’ students, and doctoral or MD trainees interested in or currently developing new medical devices and technologies.

The clinic started with an overview of innovation tournaments as a way to generate and evaluate new business opportunities, whether for small, new ventures or big, established enterprises. After discussing the theory of innovation tournaments, the group set out to actively engage in an ideation exercise in the style of an accelerated mock innovation tournament.

Innovation Clinic Ideation
Clinic participants sketching out their ideas.

First, attendees paired off for “speed dating” sessions to brainstorm new ideas for software, services, devices, and apps that would improve healthcare delivery. Then participants took to the classroom walls, sketching out their concepts and moving about the room to refine and comment on each other’s ideas. Next came the lightning round: individuals had exactly one minute or less to pitch their improved ideas before the group voted on the most promising ones. Finally, they discussed the challenges and opportunities of moving these ideas forward.

The second Innovation Clinic, led by Executive Director Saikat Chaudhuri on December 5th, picked up where the first clinic left off, going into greater detail about how entrepreneurs could take their ideas to market and compete (or collaborate) with established players.

Michelle Eckert is Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the Mack Institute, where she works to engage students, researchers, and corporate partners in opportunities for collaboration. Michelle received her B.A. in Art from Valparaiso University in 2007. Her background includes two AmeriCorps terms of service working to teach mathematics, computer literacy, and job readiness skills to out-of-school youth in Philadelphia, focusing particularly on promoting access to post-secondary education.

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