Trying Something New: Pioneer Pitch Day

Oct 22, 2013, 10:00 AM, Posted by

Pioneer Pitch Day judges Emcee Thomas Goetz and Pioneer Pitch Day judges Lori Melichar, John Lumpkin, Paul Tarini, Mike Painter, Nancy Barrand, Shankar Vedantam, Ben Sawyer, Fred Mann, Rodrigo Martinez, Esther Dyson, Ben Heywood, John Maeda and Steve Downs. Deborah Bae and Ben Schiller not pictured.

The Pioneer team is always on the lookout for new thinking about how to transform health and health care – not just from visionaries in these fields, but also from big thinkers in other disciplines.

Discovering big ideas from diverse sources was the idea behind Pioneer Pitch Day, an event we hosted last week at the offices of AppNexus, a tech startup in New York City. Eight finalists (culled from more than 500 applicants) had five minutes each to share their vision, then answered five minutes of questions from a panel of judges, as well as audience questions. The judges included designers, investors, entrepreneurs, journalists and others, in addition to foundation staff. Our entrepreneur-in-residence, Thomas Goetz, was the master of ceremonies.

At a reception afterward, Thomas announced the Pitch Day winners: Laura Esserman, Fred Trotter and the team of Sarah Hendrickson Parker, Allan Fong and Raj Ratwani (you can read about the ideas they presented here). The foundation is inviting each of them to submit a full proposal for potential funding.

In addition to being a search for ideas, Pitch Day was also a chance for us to meet new people and build our community of innovators. We’re tremendously energized by the new connections we made, whether with applicants, guest judges or members of the audience (in person and online), as well as with our partner, AppNexus. We look forward to continuing to work with all of you and with other innovators to create a true Culture of Health.

Many of you have asked whether this will be the first in a series of Pitch Days. We’re still evaluating the event (what worked well, what didn’t work as well), but the consensus seems to be that it’s something we’ll try again in the future. Stay tuned for more. In the meantime, thank you so much to everyone who helped make Pitch Day happen. We look forward to continuing the conversation.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Pioneering Ideas blog.