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April 23, 2015
Contact: HHS Press Office

HHS Innovation Ventures Fund Program Announces 2015 Projects​

Acting Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Mary Wakefield, Ph.D., R.N., announced today the selection of three projects spearheaded by entrepreneurial teams across the agency.  The chosen projects are part of the latest round of funding provided through the HHS Secretary’s Ventures program, a component of the department’s innovation initiative led by the HHS IDEA Lab.  The announcement was made during the HHS IDEA Lab’s Shark Tank and Demo Day that showcased the results of innovation projects.

“The three projects selected represent highly innovative solutions to challenging problems. They reflect cross-agency collaboration and creativity designed to improve our performance and the critical services we offer to the American people,” said Dr. Wakefield.

The Ventures Fund is a highly competitive effort that provides growth-stage funding, 15 months of mentoring, and management tools to support teams seeking to move their proven concepts to scale and create sustainable business models for their applications. This year investing partners in the HHS Ventures Fund, totaling $325,000, include: the Office of the Secretary and the directors of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) who also provide leadership support, mentorship and potential applications of the projects.

The projects of the three teams selected are:

  • Collaborative Use Repurposing Engine (CURE) - a web-based platform developed collaboratively by the Food & Drug Administration (Center for Drugs and Evaluation Research) and the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences to capture clinical data around the world on repurposing drugs for serious diseases with no adequate treatment.  Repurposing is the use of existing drugs in new ways. The platform enables the crowdsourcing of medical information from healthcare providers to guide potentially life-saving interventions and facilitate the development of new drugs for neglected diseases.
  • Economic Evaluation for Public Health Emergencies - a project led by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response to create an economic evaluation architecture to improve decision making and communication across the Department related to public health emergencies.  This promises to provide decision makers a better understanding of the potential economic impact of investments made for disaster preparedness.
  • Watch it, Parasite! - a joint effort of the NIH’s National Library of Medicine and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to improve malaria diagnosis. The new approach to microscopic diagnosis involves leveraging smart phone technology coupled with an analytic platform using digitized imaging of blood smears to detect the presence of the Malaria parasites. This has the potential to improve accuracy over manual assessment that is non-standardized and depends heavily on operator skills.

The previous round of Ventures Fund teams who highlighted their work at today’s event included teams that are: increasing accessibility and exchange of three-dimensional (3D) printing files to further scientific research; leveraging gaming as a public health tool; and building a framework for Health Information Exchanges and Health Information Organizations in California to share information with each other to improve delivery of health service during emergencies and disaster situations.

“The latest Ventures teams and Ignite Accelerator projects validate the unique role of the IDEA Lab initiatives to help modern-day problem solvers across HHS by providing support, risk-management strategies, and mentoring,” said HHS Chief Technology Officer, Bryan Sivak. “We are already witnessing how these catalytic activities are enabling us to develop a community of innovators yielding results with impact.”

The HHS IDEA Lab advances the department’s innovation agenda by empowering ideas and collaboration that will lead to impactful solutions.  More information about the HHS IDEA Lab and its initiatives are available at - http://www.hhs.gov/idealab

Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other news materials are available at https://www.hhs.gov/news.
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Last revised: April 23, 2015

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