CDC Just Launched Their Own Innovation Discovery Program
Are you an Atlantan and tired of seeing DC-centric innovation programming? Well, you're in luck: A new opportunity has hit the ATL to help alleviate your travel woes.
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has just launched an innovation discovery program called CDC I-Catalyst. Building on the lessons learned of our HHS Ignite Accelerator, this program helps CDC staff with new idea go through the the early stages of discovery, ideation, and prototyping.
A Brief History of our Innovation Pipeline
Over the last 3 years, we've been testing and growing the HHS Ignite Accelerator. We launched it in 2013 as a "Beta," not knowing what it could or should look like, not knowing really even if anyone would apply. Turns out people did apply, and we've been tweaking the program each Round, constantly testing new features in order to better meet the needs of the HHS staff for whom we serve. We later added the HHS Ventures Fund to focus on scaling. And more recently we carved out a Finalist stage to help focus in on early stage idea validation.
We now have a three-stage approach to innovation development, with separate programs focused on the stages of Discovery, Testing, and Scaling. Here's how we tend to present that in picture form:
Having gone through a few iterations of this now, we've been exploring ways to scale parts of this Pipeline. We've decided to focus on the first stage, that focused on innovation Discovery. A few months ago, we posted blog announcing that HRSA launched their own innovation discovery program. This blog post is similar: CDC has just launched into a innovation discovery program of their own.
The CDC I-Catalyst Program
The I-Catalyst program is for CDC staff with early stage ideas. Last week, Will Yang and I went down to Atlanta to see them kick-off the initial Round. They have 9 teams involved, exploring everything from robotic pollution sensors to improving information sharing between scientists.
The program focuses on the early stages of innovation: Identifying stakeholders, listing and testing assumptions, and doing early idea validation through customer interviews. So here's where this program fits in:
The I-Catalyst program is run by Juliana Cyril out of the CDC Office of Associate Director for Science (OADS). If her name sounds familiar, it's because she's been shaping innovation conversations for some time. She pitched and her team's project was accepted into the 3rd Round of our Ignite Accelerator. She then was a Coach in the 4th Round of Ignite. And now she's bringing the principles and approaches closer to her home by spearheading and directing this new I-Catalyst program.
Now CDC staff have more opportunity to gain support and guidance for their exploratory idea. This is a fantastic and yet very natural next evolution of innovation programming. For us, this represents a scaling of the principles of design and entrepreneurship, and the program benefits of an Accelerator program, so as to meet the growing #HackRedTape movement across the Department.
And as the above picture suggests, CDC staff have going through the I-Catalyst program have a leg-up when applying to the HHS Ignite Accelerator.
Much like the first Round of Ignite and the first Round of the HRSA IdeaSpring, this first Round of the I-Catalyst program is but a test. But it's a better test, a smarter test, as it builds on the lessons of the other efforts.
Congrats to Juliana, the OADS team, and the whole of CDC on this new venture. We're very much looking forward to learning along with you as our shared journey of discovery continues.