What Is HHS Ignite?
Incubating New Ideas. HHS Ignite catalyzes early-stage project ideas that can be completed within very compressed time frames. Teams selected into HHS Ignite are guaranteed an appropriate amount of their time to complete the project. By exposing teams to a network of innovators and equipping them with the methodologies and tools used by successful startup companies, HHS Ignite provides a space in which small teams can try something new in a start-up environment.
By supporting the continual pursuit of the problem that should be addressed, Ignite projects are exploratory in nature. Selected teams are introduced to lean startup as a methodology for problem solving and project implementation. In the entrepreneurial spirit, Ignite projects are iterative, their impacts measurable, and their solutions scalable.
What you get with Ignite:
- 3 months of support to test your idea
- Access to a network of innovators
- A suite of tools (technologies) typically not available to staff
- On-the-job exposure to new methodologies and tools used by successful startup companies
- Coaches & mentors to advise on your efforts
- $5,000 to go towards your project idea
What Ignite requires:
- 3-days of an immersive “Accelerator Kick-off”. Teams selected into Ignite but not in the DC area will be flown in by HHS.
- 25% of your time over the three months. This is particularly true for the project lead. Other team members may be less depending on their role.
At the end of their Ignite project, a team will have demonstrated the viability of an idea, gathering data and lessons learned to support their next steps. Project plans, approaches, and efforts are conducted in the open to allow for feedback and real-time sharing of lessons learned and experiential knowledge.
Why was HHS Ignite Developed?
Whether launching awareness campaigns, developing internal processes, or implementing technology enhancements, most projects carried out within government are large and complex. Simple problem solving becomes difficult, and project implementation often ends up unnecessarily bigger and more complicated than originally conceived.
New methodologies brought from the private sector, particularly small startup companies, encourage customer-centric explorations of a problem and data-driven iterations to support decision making. These approaches go by various terms that all overlap: agile development, lean startup, co-designing, human-centered design, design thinking, and others. While each has slightly different meanings, they each recognize the importance of engaging the end-user, understanding the root problem, prototyping and testing, building information feedback loops, and never calling a product final.
Many parts of HHS were beginning to experiment with these new methodologies and finding early success. The HHS Innovation Council sought a way to formalize a pathway that promoted these methodologies while supporting HHS staff with innovative ideas for how the Department can better carry out its mission.
Partnering with the University of Maryland
The HHS IDEA Lab is partnering with the Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland and DC I-Corps to carry out this round of HHS Ignite. The Academy, a “signature initiative to infuse the University with a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship”, brings technical advising and a proven program structure for iterating toward solution. In addition to having access to the top experts within HHS and the federal government, teams accepted into HHS Ignite will be able to leverage UMD and DC I-Corps staff, resources, and mentorship provided by their network of innovators in the private sector and academia.
Launched in “Beta”
HHS Ignite was launched by Secretary Sebelius in March of 2013 as a “beta”. That “beta” year supported 13 teams – selected among a pool of 65 applicants – which were given 6 months and up to $10,000 of support to test out their idea.
As a “beta”, the primary goal of the first year was to learn, to work with these 13 selected teams to better understand their needs prior to the full launch of HHS Ignite. A number of programmatic and philosophical shifts occurred based upon the experiences working with the “beta” class. We’re currently bringing together our lessons learned for sharing with everyone.
At the end of this “beta” year, Deputy Secretary Bill Corr announced that Ignite would be moving forward and leaving its “beta” stage. In March 2014, we began accepting applications for the first class of HHS Ignite.
All HHS employees are eligible to apply for HHS Ignite support. Teams of up to 5 may include individuals from outside of HHS or from outside government. However, Project Leads must be a full-time employee (FTE) of the Department.
Teams should collectively hold the skillsets and expertise to begin their effort on day 1.
The Reviewing Criteria and Selection Process
Proposals submitted into Ventures will be evaluated by a panel of Reviewers based on the following criteria:
- Proposed project’s importance to and potential impact on OpDiv and HHS mission [15 points]
- The likelihood that the methods and metrics proposed will produce and demonstrate reliable results [15 points]
- Transferability and scalability of the innovation [20 points]
- The novelty and disruptive nature of the innovation concept being tested [25 points]
- The feasibility of the project in terms of timeline, capital resources, personnel and program support. [25 points]
Teams submitting the top proposals will be asked to present and discuss their project with members of the HHS Innovation Council. The Council will make recommendations to the Secretary who will make the final selection.
How to Apply
Proposals for HHS Ignite support are submitted through the HHS Intranet at http://apply-idealab.hhs.gov/ignite/proposals/new *. (Available only to HHS Employees)
* Seems this link periodically doesn’t work for folks. Sorry about that. We’re troubleshooting the issue right now. In the meantime if you’d like to see what the submission form looks like, you can download the proposals submission form as a PDF. Note: Do not submit this PDF. It’s just being provided as a preview until we get the bugs worked out. Thanks!
Now Accepting Your Funding Proposal
We began receiving proposals on March 3, 2014 for the Ignite class that runs from June 2014 into September 2014. The specific 2014 dates are as follows:
March – June 2014
Conference: 1-877-409-0442 | Passcode: 2142144
This introductory webinar will provide an overview of HHS Ignite, an internal incubator for new ideas. By exposing teams to a network of innovators and equipping them with the methodologies and tools used by successful startup companies, HHS Ignite provides an environment in which small teams can try something new.
HHS Employees, do you have an idea that you want to get off the ground or a problem that you are trying to solve and want to test a possible solution? HHS Ignite may be the pathway to take you there. HHS Ignite catalyzes early-stage project ideas that can be completed within very compressed time frames. Teams selected into HHS Ignite are guaranteed an appropriate amount of their time to complete the project.
Learn about how you can get your idea selected in the next class of HHS Ignite in a special virtual town hall event on March 12 from 2-3 PM EST on the HHS Yammer network < https://www.yammer.com/hhs.gov/#/threads/inGroup?type=in_group&feedId=1465824 >.
Applications for HHS Ignite close today at 5 PM. More information on HHS Ignite can be found here.
June 9th is the first day for HHS Ignite and HHS Ventures. Teams selected into these Pathways will kick-start their efforts through an immersive three-day “Accelerator Kick-off”. For selected teams not in the D.C. metro area, at least 2 individuals will be flown to D.C to participate.
- Contact: Read [dot] Holman @ hhs [dot] gov
- HHS Ignite Yammer Group (Available only to HHS employees)
- How the Funding Works
- Blog: Now Accepting Your Funding Proposals!
- The Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland
The content below does not have alt text attributed to the images. To view each project, select the link associated to each project. To get alternative text to each image, please go to the Projects page at http://hhsidealab.wpengine.com/projects/.
HHS Ignite Projects
Below is the HHS Ignite Project Gallery. Each project is associated with one of our Pathways which is denoted with a Pathway logo (HHS Ignite Logo, ). To read more about each project click on the beaker icon () under the project title.