Ideathon Pitch Competition Finalists Announced

On October 23, twenty-two semi-final Ideathon teams pitched live in the Ideathon Pitch competition, evaluated by an incredible cohort of judges from across the Pittsburgh innovation ecosystem. The semifinalists began their education in fields ranging from dentistry and occupational therapy to engineering, public health, and pharmacy. Participants hail from more than 8 different countries and speak more than 10 different languages.

After a day-long competition, judges selected three teams who represent different but equally important needs in health. These teams are among the best and brightest of our region's next generation of innovators, and they will compete on December 15th for the chance to win a total of $50,000 in prizes.

We are thrilled to announce the three winning teams:

LittleMoochi seeks to solve the growing childhood obesity crisis triggered by increasingly unhealthy eating habits. A child snaps a picture of his/her plate, and the LittleMoochi AI engine recognizes the ingredients, analyzes the nutrients, and provides children with personalized food suggestions through the guise of a cute personalized character. Founder Summer Xia, a 2020 graduate of Carnegie Mellon's MBA program, was inspired by her daughter's unwillingness to eat vegetables. After 10 years in product design, she and her team turned their expertise to crafting a compelling game for children to play, while secretly learning healthy habits.

Heart IO takes the uncertainty out of cardiac testing by empowering the most used cardiac test (the electrocardiogram) with a robust algorithm to quickly, comfortably, and accurately assess a patient's risk for cardiac-related death. Team members include Utkars Jain, Michael Leasure and Adam Butchy. The idea started with an experience Jain had with his father, whose heart attack was diagnosed so late that he almost died in the hospital. Jain, having earned his PhD in biomedical engineering from the University of Pittsburgh, combined his expertise with fellow bioengineering PhD candidate Adam Butchy to reroute the analysis of routine heart screenings.

MindTrace Tech protects the minds of brain tumor and epilepsy patients by simulating surgical resections and predicting post-operative cognitive outcomes—all before the first incision. The product includes a testing platform and a 3D imaging and mapping model, all precision based. Recent MBA Rochester graduate Max Sims joined Raouf Belkhir, pursuing his master's degree from Carnegie Mellon in psychology, to dive into the neuropsychology and neuromapping markets. They brought fellow CMU alumni Brad Mahon and Hugo Angulo, and the team is currently a part of Optum Startup Studio and the Creative Destruction lab.

Thank you to our semi-finalist judges:*=JHF Board member
  • Barbara Barnes* (UPMC)
  • Jeremy Bonfini*(Allegheny County Medical Society)
  • Jessica Brooks* (Pittsburgh Business Group on Health)
  • Jessica Burke (University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health)
  • Laura Carlson (AHN)
  • Jo Clark (Highmark Health)
  • Ilana Diamond (AlphaLab Gear)
  • Erica Friedman (Innovation Works)
  • Jeremy Guttman* (Biomotivate)
  • Steve Irwin* (Leech Tishman Fuscaldo & Lampl)
  • Nadyli Nunez (AscenderPGH)
  • Rebecca Jacobson* (UPMC Enterprises)
  • John Keelan (Ikm)
  • Edgar Largaespada (Partner4Work)
  • Laura Poskin (United Way of Southwestern PA)
  • Aneesh Ramaswamy (University of Pittsburgh Clinical and Translational Science Institute)

Thank you to our semi-finalist mentors:

  • Peter Allen (University of Pittsburgh)
  • Rick Cancelliere*(Treatspace)
  • Carrier Farmer (RAND)
  • Steve Fleck (ConnectiveRx)
  • Jackie Gelzheiser (UPMC Enterprises)
  • Shane Hochradel
  • Lance Lindauer (P.A.R.T)
  • Sean Luther (InnovatePGH)
  • Craig Markovitz (Pepper Hamilton)
  • Olga Pogoda (Krnls)
  • Lynne Porter (Porter Consulting)
  • Charlie Schaller (UnitedHealth group)
  • Jeannine Siviy (SDLC Partners)
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