With an eye toward using innovation to make our area healthier, Startup Weekend Evansville (SWE) 8.0 will be held from Friday, April 12 through Sunday, April 14 in the newly-remodeled third floor of the Health Professions Center on the University of Southern Indiana campus.
Open regionally to students, faculty, staff and the community, Startup Weekend is a 54-hour event where developers, designers, marketers, product managers and startup enthusiasts come together to share ideas, form teams, build products and launch startups. For this year’s event, SWE organizers have chosen to theme the event “Better Health Through Innovation,” and are asking participants to focus their ideas on ways to improve the health outcomes of Vanderburgh County and the surrounding area.
“Being the largest event of its kind in Indiana, we wanted to leverage this unique innovation platform that attracts a wide audience of aspiring entrepreneurs and innovation enthusiasts, and dial in that creativity to help solve some of our most pressing health care issues,” said Bryan Bourdeau, USI instructor in entrepreneurship and co-founder of Startup Weekend Evansville.
Despite being the seventh-largest county by population in Indiana, Vanderburgh County ranks 78th out of 92 counties for health outcomes and had a number of issues raised by the 2016 Community Health Needs Assessment. To provide solutions for improving this metric, participants will be asked to choose one of three “innovation buckets” and focus on solving a problem within that area during the weekend:
- Behavioral Health: stigma, depression, suicide, dementia, substance abuse connection
- Exercise/Nutrition: lifestyle, obesity, activity spaces, education, food insecurity
- Information Technology/Data Analytics: need to improve local data, community feedback, information/communication options
Following final pitches on Sunday’s Demo Day presentation, a panel of judges will select the top two most plausible ideas for initial implementation in the Evansville community. Each project team selected by the judges will receive one year of secure web hosting from Lieberman Technologies and $3,000 in idea development funding, plus entry into the USI Eagle Innovation Accelerator Program.
SWE 8.0 is a collaboration among the USI Provost’s Office, USI Outreach and Engagement, and USI’s Romain College of Business and College of Nursing and Health Professions. “Understanding and managing conditions that can facilitate innovation in various domains is an essential strategy. Given the complexity of our most pressing health problems, developing effective solutions will require continuously greater collaboration among various disciplines,” said Dr. Kevin Celuch, USI Blair Chair of Business Science, professor of marketing and co-organizer of SWE 8.0.
Additional sponsors for the event include Vectren, Lieberman Technologies and the Growth Alliance for Greater Evansville. Tickets for participation in the weekend-long event are $25. Members of the public who just want to watch final pitches, judging and awards can register for Sunday Demo Day tickets for $25, which includes a catered dinner.