Philips teams with Indiegogo for health innovation contest

By Jonah Comstock
Slava Rubin, CEO of Indiegogo, and Greg Sebasky, Chairman of Philips North America. Slava Rubin, CEO of Indiegogo, and Greg Sebasky, Chairman of Philips North America.

Philips has announced an innovation contest to give a total of $100,000 out to five startups creating technology to improve health and wellness. But companies that compete stand to get a lot more than the $60,000 grand prize: the Innovation Fellows Competition is being conducted in partnership with Indiegogo, and companies entering will be expected to crowdfund their projects as well.

"It was important to us to include a crowdfunding element to the competition to help bring more support for these big ideas," Greg Sebasky, Chairman of Philips North America, told MobiHealthNews in an email. "Now, innovators will not only gain access to the financial resources they need to bring their products to market, but everyone around the world can vote with their dollars on those innovations that they believe are the most meaningful."

Sebasky said Philips chose Indiegogo over other crowdfunding sites because of the site's "global reach and breadth of campaign topics."

"Indiegogo offers the best platform to align with our competition focus on healthy living and has the potential to support what we hope grows into a global program," he wrote.

Philips is looking for innovations in three categories: "Living Well", which includes addressing problems like restful sleep and home security, "Enjoying Life", which includes products to increase happiness as well as technology for aging independently, and, finally, "Being Healthy", which includes "new products or services that enable people to better monitor their family’s health, seek medical treatment, prevent illness and live a healthy lifestyle."

Registration for the competition opened June 18 and the contest will run until October. Three of the judges' announced criteria -- innovativeness, feasibility, and impact -- deal with the idea itself, but the other two are related to the crowdfunding campaigns. To be considered, projects will have to have at least 100 backers and have raised 50 percent of their funding goal in a special crowdfunding campaign run concurrently with the contest. Judges will also look at transparency, or how specifically the entrant has explained how the funds will be used to support the project.

The top company will get a $60,000 cash prize and a chance to meet with Sebasky and his team at Philips to help develop their idea. Four other companies will get $10,000 each.

According to Sebasky, Philips was inspired to launch the contest by the results of a survey the company conducted called the Meaningful Innovation Index, in which 1,000 people in each of five countries (China, The Netherlands, the US, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Russia) were asked questions about their level of satisfaction with technological innovation.

The survey showed that Americans especially rank their health as an important area in their lives. Asked to list important areas, 75 percent listed preventative health, 74 percent listed healthy lifestyle, 70 percent listed eating healthily, and 68 percent listed staying fit and active. Finally, 77 percent listed "living independently as I age". However, asked if they were satisfied with the products currently available in these areas, only 28 percent were satisfied with preventative care, 31 with healthy lifestyle, 30 percent with eating healthily and staying fit and active, and 32 percent with independent living.

"According to our research, there is an appetite for future innovations to go beyond creating technology for technology’s sake, instead aiming to make a difference in people’s everyday lives, specifically in living well, being healthy and enjoying life," Sebasky said.

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