The HHS Ventures Fund provides growth-stage funding and support to HHS employees with innovative ideas for how to dramatically improve their Office, Agency, or the Department’s ability to carry out its mission. The Ventures Fund gives Department employees the opportunity to take a proven but still early-stage idea to the next level of implementation.
The HHS Ventures Fund 2016 investing partners include
Immediate Office of the Secretary, HHS
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Office of the Director
National Institutes of Health, Office of the Director
National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute
Food and Drug Administration, Office of the Commissioner
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Office of the Administrator
What You Get with HHS Ventures Funding
Up to a maximum of $100,000 to go towards your project (you pitch for what you want)
Up to 15 months of support (as defined by the proposal)
A suite of tools typically not available to staff (e.g. Secure Cloud)
Guidance and technical support specific to project implementation needs (EPLC, PRA, etc.)
What HHS Ventures Requires
At least 50% of your time. This is particularly true for the Project Lead. Other team members may contribute less depending on their role.
Teams are generally able to operate freely on their own and manage their project through their own milestones. However, regular check-ins and reporting requirements do exist to keep the IDEA Lab staff aware of progress.
Types of Projects Supported by the Ventures Fund
We support the scaling and/or operationalization of tried and tested innovations.
The types of projects we support tend to be disruptive to internal operations; this is intentional.
We support “riskier” projects. In fact, you’ll need to convince us that Ventures funding is needed.
The Ventures Fund is not for exploring nascent project ideas (see our Ignite Accelerator for that). All projects applying for Ventures funding should have been prototyped and tested in some capacity and thus have sufficient evidence that it’s a good idea worth investing in. During your pitch, we will ask you to demo your beta product (if it’s a product) or walk us through the early version of the new service or process (if it’s a service or process you’re addressing).
We tend to support projects that are cross-cutting or have the very near-term potential of scaling across the Department.
We require Ventures funded projects to be managed and implemented using core principles and methodologies espoused by the IDEA Lab. These include iterative implementation, customer engagement throughout the process, and transparent task-tracking towards major milestones.
History of the HHS Ventures Fund
In March of 2013, Secretary Sebelius announced the “beta” year of the HHS Ignite Accelerator. Launched as part-seed fund and part-incubator, HHS Ignite (beta) supported 13 teams in order to test the concept of direct investments in Departmental projects.
A number of recommendations to the HHS Innovation Council came from that “beta” year of HHS Ignite. One recommendation was to create a competitive “Phase II” opportunity that would support the scaling of the best projects. To broaden the funnel of potential projects, the eligibility was expanded beyond simply those participating in HHS Ignite.
Our first three Rounds of Ventures funding have gone to 11 projects from across the Department.
Through our support of project teams over the last few years, we’ve gained better insights into 1) the particular value the Ventures Fund plays within the Department; and 2) the particular strengths we have at the IDEA Lab to best support particular innovations. We are continually refining our investment approach to ensure we have optimal impact and play a unique role in the ecosystem of internal funding streams.
In the third Round of funding, which occurred in early 2016, we sought applications for projects that address these domains of innovation: Re-engineering Core Processes; Strengthening the Department’s Workforce; Increasing Citizen Engagement with Government; Improving Energy Usage and Waste Operations; Promoting Security + Innovation.
Projects Funded in June 2014
The CDC and HHS Health Game Jam. Executing and evaluating 48 hour event where game developers competed to prototype – and for the winners, eventually launch – games that focused on the primary and secondary prevention of HIV/AIDS. (CDC + NIH + HRSA + External Partners)
EMS to HIE Innovation. Testing the viability of piloting a single sign-on Health Information Exchange (HIE) system in California for providers, including emergency response personnel, who serve patients outside of the disaster area. (ONC + ASPR)
The NIH 3D Print Exchange. Scaling and operationalizing an online portal to open-source data and tools for discovering, creating, and sharing 3D-printable models related to biomedical science. (NIH)
Projects Funded in June 2015
Building an Economic Evaluation Model for Emergency Preparedness. Designing a framework to assist key decision-makers involved in planning and preparing for potential public health emergencies. (ASPR)
Collaborative Use Repurposing Engine (CURE). Scaling and piloting a platform for capturing and organizing real-world information about how healthcare practitioners use existing drugs in novel ways to treat patients with neglected tropical diseases. (FDA + NIH)
Automated Cell Counting for Malaria Detection. Improving and piloting the use of a smartphone to detect and count parasites in blood films to speed up the diagnosis of malaria. (NIH + External Partners)
Projects Funded in May 2016
Optimizing Human Resource Operations: The Federal HR Wiki. Crowd-sourcing institutional knowledge about human resources at the National Institutes of Health. (NIH + ASA)
Special Employee Onboarding. Reducing the burden of onboarding for expert advisors in Federal Advisory Committees. (NIH)
Rapid Autism Classification for Public Health. Leveraging algorithms to review medical records and reduce labor of estimating the prevalence of autism in the US. (CDC)
Global Bidding & Assignment System. Filling overseas global public health vacancies with a specialized system for global recruitment. (OGA, CDC, FDA, + HRSA)
NARMS Collect. Capturing data from retail meat samples about bacterial resistance for quick and effective monitoring. (FDA)