- Announcements & Updates
- Program Overview
- 1. Applying to Ignite
- 2. Being a Finalist
- 3. The Ignite Experience
- Key Dates
- Our Instructors & Mentors
- More Information & FAQs
04/05 - 04/14: Boot Camp Alpha & Boot Camp Bravo
A month ago, we announced the 23 teams that had been accepted into the Spring 2016 Round of our HHS Ignite Accelerator, our 3-month internal innovation startup program. Since that announcement, each team has gone through a three day Boot Camp. Part training, part design sprint, our Boot Camps are a mix of lectures, workshops, and brainpower focused towards figuring out what problem or problems the team want(s) to work on, and how to prototype and test against that problem to learn what works.
During these three days, teams refine their project scope, hone their pitch, and maybe even change their team makeup.
You can find the project summaries at the bottom of this page and on a blog announcing the published pages of the 23 projects in the Spring 2016 HHS Ignite Accelerator.
03/09: Selected Teams Announced
From the over 100 applications and over 50 Finalists (note: We’re including the HRSA IdeaSpring pilot in that count), we are happy to announce the next batch of project teams entering the HHS Ignite Accelerator.
11/19: Finalists Announced
11/05: Thank you for your submissions!
We received the biggest batch of proposals to the Ignite Accelerator yet!
If you submitted a project idea, thank you and we look forward to learning more about your ideas to #hackredtape as we go through the review process.
10/1: Now Accepting Applications for our 2016 Accelerator
We’re accepting proposals for the 2016 Ignite Accelerator until Friday November 6, 2015 at 11:59 PM ET.
There are a couple stages as part of the selection process. Finalists are identified mid-November. Selected project teams go through the Accelerator from April to July, 2016.
The 2016 Accelerator Will Be Better Than Ever!
We’re excited about the changes we made for this upcoming round of Ignite. They’re both minor and significant. Here are the main ones:
- More teams. More innovations: In past Rounds we’ve received around 70 proposals, identified 30 or so finalist, and selected about 12 teams into the program. Yes it’s competitive, and we want it to stay that way. However, we also want to spread the love. This Round we’re looking for upwards of 40 finalists and 20 teams to select. Help us get there.
- An enhanced “Finalist” Stage: All identified finalists receive guidance from IDEA Lab staff and Ignite Alumni to help flesh out their idea and craft their pitch. You can’t be a finalist if you don’t apply!
- Improved training curriculum: The design and entrepreneurship training, received mostly in our Boot Camp and provided by the University of Maryland’s Academy for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, is getting a revamp.
- We’re training up more mentors: We’re focusing more on the mentorship side of things than ever before. Mentors meet with you weekly and help you figure stuff out, navigate issues, and expose you to human-centered design and lean startup principles along the way.
- A defined tool-suite to get things done: We’ve cultivated a list of online tools used by startups around the world – but mostly in Silicon Valley – and are making them available for you.
For more info like this, check out the Round 5 Release Notes (PDF).
Blogs about the Summer 2015 Accelerator (June - Sept)
- Sept 17, 2015: Ignite Demo Day: An Innovation Celebration
- June 22, 2015: HHS Ignite: Announcing the Teams of the Summer 2015 Accelerator
- April 16, 2015: Choosing the Ignite Summer 2015 Finalists: Our Selection Methodology and Reflections
Accelerating Internal Ideas
A Multi-staged Program
Types of Ignite Projects
A Brief History of HHS Ignite
We accepted proposals for this Round of Ignite between Oct 1 and Nov 7, 2015. Thanks to everyone that applied!
Information on those proposals is elsewhere on this website.
Review Criteria & Things to Consider
Being a Finalist
Note: Information, files, and other resources for current HHS Ignite Finalists and those in the HRSA IdeaSpring are at the bottom of this page.
Individuals and teams identified as finalists receive design and entrepreneurship training, individualized mentorship, and 2 months to refine their project idea.
All trainings are remote via webinar. And mentorship is given by alumni of the Ignite program. Those that get into this idea incubation stage will be asked to conduct a number of exercises that all past Ignite teams have gone through: The goal here is to get through a significant portion of the “Discovery” phase of your project. The more you discover during this phase, the better!
During this phase, project ideas and even the teams themselves are encouraged to change in light of any new information discovered. We’ll provide the framework for how to approach this.
What Finalists Get:
- About 5 Hours of Design and Entrepreneurship Training (provided remotely/online via the Online Workshops mentioned above.)
- 2 Months of loose support (networking and mentorship) to hone your idea and perfect the pitch
- The opportunity to pitch your idea directly to IDEA Lab staff
What Finalists Do:
- Finalists explore and flesh out their idea and start to get the ball rolling on their project.
- Finalists Attend Online Workshops. There will be three of them that are required attendance for at least the Project Lead: Two are focused on “Igniting Discovery” and a third on “Making the Pitch”. Date/Time details are above.
- Finalists conduct about 10 ‘customer interviews’ (that sounds a little formal; you can call them ‘conversations over coffee’ if you want). Each of these customer interviews is about 45 minutes in length. So note that there is some time commitment involved.
- Finalists Pitch Their Incubated Idea to Idea Lab Staff. These conversations, which include a short 5 minute presentation from each team, are typically 25 minutes in length and held with 3 members of the HHS IDEA Lab.
Some things to consider:
- For this next Round of Ignite (Spring 2016), we are aiming to identify 35 teams as Finalists.
- Considering applying but don’t have a team yet? You may want to just apply anyways as you can figure out who is on your team during this Incubator phase. Actually this might be a strategically smart way to go about it.
- If your project idea is vague right now, that might be ok. You can use this Discovery phase to hone it.
- Being a Finalist is a big deal! You get some training from UMD Innovation Faculty and there are some neat networking opportunities with staff within your OpDiv.
- Our selection process is, in many ways, simply a hiring process and thus our selection process is inherently slightly subjective. Our goal during the pitch sessions is to get to know the team members (particularly the project lead) a bit and get a sense as to the team dynamics and the soft skills at play.
- While we are certainly interested in the problem you’ve identified and the solution you’re proposing, we are more interested in your experience during the Discovery phase. Who did you talk to? What did you learn? Did your project and/or team change at all?
Information for Current Finalist Project Leads
Files related to your experience:
- Read Materials to Consider
- Lists of HHS Innovators to Contact (as potential mentors)
- The Dec 1 Webinar: “Igniting Discovery”
- The Dec 3 Webinar: “The Ignite Experience”
- The Jan 12 Webinar: “Storytelling & Making the Pitch”
Book an Office Hour!
Held every Tuesday and Thursday. Schedule via the following doodle: http://doodle.com/poll/wiaq7t4qrivksuri (FDA folks, since doodle is blocked, just email us if you want to schedule one of these.)
- Dec 1 @ 1-3pm ET = Online Workshop: Igniting Discovery
- Dec 3 @ 1-3pm ET = Online Webinar: The Ignite Experience (QnA)
- Jan 12 @ 1-3pm ET = Online Webinar: Storytelling & Making the Pitch
Your Project Pitches / Interviews
To get into the HHS Ignite Accelerator…
- You’ll give a 5-10 minute pitch
- To a panel of 3 people
- Within a 30 minute session
- The week of Feb 8 through Feb 12
- [ For scheduling of these, we’ve emailed a doodle link to Project Leads. ]
There are only a handful of “required” items that we need to see. Each of the below should get its own slide:
- A Project Name (you can change it if you want)
- A plain language explainer of your project: A few simple sentences (explain it to me like I’m five!)
- List of your team members (and if any changed)
- If either of the boot camp dates are absolute impossibilities for you. (Remember that there are two options)
Beyond this is its up to you to figure out the best way to convince us that…
- You have a problem worth trying to address (what’s the potential impact?)
- That you have a possible solution that’s interesting and seems to get to the core problem (and likely a little outside the box)
- That you’re the right people to run the project (leadership, knowledgeable, office-alignment, etc)
Types of questions we are likely to ask:
- Clarifying questions re the problem area and your proposed solution(s). (So… what are you doing?)
- Questions regarding the Discovery phase. (Who did you interview and why?)
- What was the biggest thing you learned from your interviews? (If anything…)
Selecting the teams
We plan on notifying teams of the final selection on March 7. We’re aiming to select 20 teams into this Round of the Ignite Accelerator.
The Boot Camps for the Selected Teams
Teams selected into the Ignite Accelerator kick-start their effort with a 3-day Boot Camp here in DC.
To ensure a good instructor-to-team ratio, we have two boot camps on the calendar: April 5-7 and also April 12-14. As you know, we require the Project Lead and at least one other person on the selected team to be there for the entirety of all 3 days.
If selected, you’ll just attend one of those Boot Camps of course. We’ll be placing teams in their boot camp, so that we can be strategic about bringing the right people together. IF, for an important reason, one of those weeks absolutely can’t work, then please let us know at the time of your pitch and we’ll try to take that into consideration.
The Ignite Experience
Congrats! You made it through the Finalist stage, you made your pitch to the IDEA Lab staff and you’ve been selected into the Ignite Accelerator!
The fun and the work now begins…
Key Dates for the upcoming Round:
- Apr 5-7: Boot Camp #1 (for half of the selected teams)
- Apr 12-14: Boot Camp #2 (for the other half)
- Jul 14: DEMO DAY for all selected teams
What Ignite Teams get:
- Further training on human-centered design principles and entrepreneurial methodologies. The bulk of this occurs in our 3-day Boot Camp, but there are other trainings scattered throughout the three months.
- Coaching and individualized mentorship as you continue to explore your idea, prototype the concept, and test it out with real users/customers.
- Access to a larger network of innovators and technical advisors.
- Resources and a suite of tools (technologies) typically not available to HHS staff.
- At the end, the opportunity to pitch your idea directly to HHS and OpDiv Senior leadership.
What the Ignite Accelerator requires:
- Weekly check-ins with a mentor over the phone.
- A full-time employee of HHS to serve as the Project Lead.
- 25-50% of your time over the duration of the program. This is particularly true for the Project Lead.
- The Project Lead and at least one other person must attend the full 3-Day Boot Camp in-person in Washington, DC. We will cover the travel costs of two individuals for each team not already in the DC area.
Things to Consider:
- We’re aiming to select 20 teams into this Round of Ignite.
- Because we’re selecting more teams this round, we have two Boot Camps occurring: Half the selected teams will have a Boot Camp on April 5-7; the other half of the teams on April 12-14. There may not be the option to select the one you want to be in. This will become more clear to us in the coming weeks, but you’ll want to note the dates and mark them on your calendars now.
- You will emerge from the Ignite program a problem solving ninja.
Spring 2016 Key Dates
- Oct 1, 2015: First day to submit an application
- Nov 6: Last day to submit an application
- Nov 16: Finalists Identified
- For Finalists:
- Dec 1 @ 1-3pm ET: Online “Discovery Phase” workshop
- Dec 3 @ 1-3pm ET: Online workshop continued
- Months of Dec & Jan: Finalists get mentorship to polish their proposal
- Jan 12th @ 1-3pm ET: Online “Story Telling” Workshop
- Feb 8-12, 2016: Finalists make their Pitch for Selection (25 minute sessions during this week)
- Mar 7: The date we anticipate notifying teams of their selection
- For Selected Teams:
- Apr 5-7: Kickoff Boot Camp (for half of those selected)
- Apr 12-14: Kickoff Boot Camp (for the other half)
- Jul 14: Demo Day! (Last day of the Ignite Accelerator)
Summer 2015 Key Dates
Stay up to date
Our Instructors & Mentors
Lead Instructors: UMD Faculty
Dean Chang | Edmund Pendleton | Erica Estrada-Liou | innovation.umd.edu
Each selected team has at least 2 mentors. One of them has received further design training and has a little more experience facilitating design sessions and working as an entrepreneur within government. These individuals are our Uber Mentors. They give an hour a week to helping the selected teams and can also facilitate half-day deep-dive design sessions.
Here are the individuals mentoring the Summer 2015 class which wrapped up in September:
Read Holman, HHS IDEA Lab
Will Yang, HHS ASA
Juliana Cyril, CDC
Michael Arsenault, HRSA
Laura Adam, FDA
Samir Shaikh, FDA
Nick Weber, NIH
Daniel Stowell, CDC & HHS IDEA Lab
Mindy Hangslaben, CMS
Allyn Moushey, HHS Office of Intergovernmental & External Affairs
Ross Bowling, HHS Office of Business Management and Transformation
Blair Corcoran de Castillo, ACF & the Lab@OPM
Molly Moran, U.S. Department of State
Andrea Ippolito, PIF @ Department of Veteran’s Affairs Center for Innovation
Ben Willman, GSA/18F
The #HackRedTape Network of Innovators
Sometimes issues and questions come up that are very specific and beyond the core skillsets of our mentos. In those cases, we put Ignite teams in touch with someone that can help. These may be legal experts, privacy experts, technologists, or someone who can help navigate external relations.
There is also a larger network of Ignite alumni – from every OpDiv and almost every operational HHS Region of the country – that are ready to jump in and help. Beyond HHS, there are also folks who ‘get it’ and have Ignite experience. Previous Ignite mentors include people from other federal agencies such as: 18F, the Lab@OPM, the State Department, SBA, Department of Commerce, and elsewhere.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Still want more? Nice. You probably have what it takes then. Check out our frequently asked questions >