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HHS Innovates Awards

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HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell

Washington, DC
July 21, 2014

As Prepared for Delivery

Introduction

Good morning! I’m so pleased to join you today to celebrate the HHS Innovates honorees and the incredible, innovative work that you’re doing.  

As I’ve been meeting you and your fellow colleagues, I’ve been blown away by your passion, talent, and energy. I truly believe that we have some of the brightest minds in the nation working here. I’m thrilled that we have a platform like HHS Innovates to give everyone a chance to let your talents shine.  

Innovation

How many of you are soccer fans? How many of you are soccer bandwagon-fans when the World Cup comes along?

Well, if you had a chance to see the opening ceremony in Brazil this year, you might have seen Juliano Pinto kick the first official World Cup ball. That might not sound too impressive, but Juliano is paralyzed from the waist down. He made that kick with the help of a robotic exoskeleton controlled only by his mind. Some in the media were even calling it an Iron Man suit. Isn’t that amazing?

We can invent a better wheelchair or we can imagine a new way to walk.

Of course, not every innovation is going to be an Iron Man suit, but in many ways the advances you are achieving also change people’s lives.

For the father who can quickly access a newer, more effective drug, or the mother who benefits from the latest breast cancer invention, these innovations mean the world. Whether you’re helping public health officials protect our food supplies, helping communities prevent suicide, helping a family make safer home improvements, or helping a teen better understand the threat of HIV/AIDS, your ideas are delivering a tremendous impact. And many of them save tax dollars in the process!

In big ways and small, the impact of the ideas we are celebrating today doesn’t stop at these walls.

Innovation is about trying something different. It’s about looking at problems in ways no one has before. It’s about finding solutions instead of finding faults.  

HHS Innovates Honorees

We’re here today to honor six teams that did exactly that.

They tackled a range of issues and found solutions that involved new technology, community partnerships, and even comic books. Some collaborated across agencies and departments; some teamed up with state governments and tribes, and some turned to entrepreneurs.

But there’s one thing all of these projects had in common. They all found better, smarter ways to help us deliver on our mission: ensuring Americans have the opportunity to access the building blocks of healthy and productive lives.

It wasn’t easy to get to this stage. These teams passed three rounds of judging by their peers and the public and beat out more than 60 competitors. Still, they didn’t do it for recognition. They did it to better serve their boss—our boss—the American people.

HHS and Impact

The foundation of HHS Innovates rests on the principles that make this Department work: delivering results on complex and challenging issues; empowering the relationships that drive progress; and building strong teams with talent and focus.

Our finalists embody those principles, but they aren’t alone. These teams are just a snap-shot of the amazing work being done every day here at HHS.

All of us, every day, must focus on who we serve and how we deliver meaningful impact. And I know that we do.  

I am committed to supporting the ongoing efforts of all of our employees to meet difficult problems with original strategies, and I know that is true of our leadership and management throughout the Department.

Congratulations to all of our honorees today and thank you for your incredible work to deliver impact to our bosses—the men, women, and children who depend on this Department.

Thank you.