From the Judge’s Perspective

April 2, 2018

BioEnterprise recently interviewed two inaugural Medical Capital Innovation Competition (MCIC) judges about their experiences and advice for teams competing in MCIC 2018, April 23-24, 2018.

Sunnie Southern is the founder and CEO of Viable Synergy, a healthcare marketing and commercialization company providing turnkey marketing programs and advisory services that enable healthcare providers, technology firms, and global healthcare organizations to develop, launch, and grow their businesses. Previously, Sunnie founded Innov8 for Health, a global health innovation program based in Cincinnati.

Dr. Anil Jain is vice president and chief health informatics officer for IBM Watson Health, a specialist in Internal Medicine and former Health IT executive at Cleveland Clinic, and co-founder of Explorys, a Cleveland-based big data healthcare analytics company acquired by IBM.

Why did you agree to serve as judges for the first MCIC in 2017?

Sunnie:
I am passionate about working with entrepreneurs and organizations to start and grow businesses that improve people’s health and our healthcare systems. I met Matthew Miller from BioEnterprise during the inaugural Cleveland Medical Hackathon shortly after I moved to Northeast Ohio from Cincinnati. When he asked me to serve as a judge and mentor for MCIC. I was honored and thrilled to support his efforts.

Anil:
I’ve spent more than 20 years in Northeast Ohio in healthcare informatics innovation, and have collaborated with BioEnterprise during that time. I readily agreed to be a judge at MCIC, given the opportunity to make new friends, see old colleagues and connect to potential opportunities through the Competition.                                                                  

Sunnie:
I agree. For me as a new healthcare entrepreneur in the region, this was an amazing experience to be able to connect to an incredible group of people including selection committee members, judges, mentors, and of course, the participants. These were really smart people and it was an incredible selection process.              

 

What should collegiate and professional teams do to improve their chances of winning at MCIC?

Anil:
Teams must take very complex ideas and simplify them so everyone can understand their importance. Even the most technical innovations should be described by how they may save and/or change lives.

Sunnie:
True. They should make sure they are solving real problems and clearly explain who would benefit from solving the problem.

Anil:
This issue of communication is really important. Teams should simplify their messages, avoid technical jargon and try to stay out of the weeds. Not everyone is an expert in their area so keeping messages simple and digest-able across all audience levels is key, as is humility.

Sunnie:
Teams also need to have a clear, understandable and sustainable business model with a viable solution. They will need to explain how their solution is better or different from the way the problem is being solved today and how their solution fits into current workflows. It is also essential that the team explain why they are the best people to solve the problem. Customers and investors are looking for people they can trust to “get the job done”. 

Anil:
Collegiate teams should be clear about what other talent and team members they will need to bring together. Of course, professional teams should also clearly describe why they need the financial support and how it will change what they will do.

 

How can teams best succeed at MCIC?

Sunnie:
By simply remembering that it’s not only about winning the money – it’s about the opportunity to get objective feedback on your innovation from clinicians, healthcare business experts, and innovation leaders. It is a chance to interact with representatives from Cleveland Clinic Innovations and leaders of University Hospitals and the MetroHealth System. This type of access would be nearly impossible for most companies without the Competition.

Anil:
Exactly. The teams should not equate success with winning the competition. The key is presenting their ideas, getting feedback, getting people excited about what they are doing, and networking. That is the most significant value of MCIC for the teams – that is their success. Presenting is winning.