Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Selects Ideas to Be Presented at First-Ever Pioneer Pitch Day

    • October 16, 2013

New YorkThe Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has selected eight ideas for transforming health and health care to be presented at their first ever Pioneer Pitch Day.

In an innovative approach to sourcing ideas for funding, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation conducted an open call for applicants — in 1,000 characters or less — to share an idea and their vision for how it could change the world. Over 500 individuals and organizations shared submissions, which reflected some of our country’s greatest health challenges: access to quality care, the social determinants of health, leveraging the abundance of data available to improve outcomes and accelerating the current pace of discovery.

“If we are to stay on the cutting edge in our efforts to foster a culture of health, we must try new strategies to uncover ideas,” said Lori Melichar, director at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which supports early stage ideas that have the potential to be transformative. “Our commitment to the potential of ideas that come from a range of disciplines and sectors requires us to cast a wide net and continuously seek out new relationships and connections.”

Thomas Goetz, Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the former executive editor of Wired, will host Pioneer Pitch Day October 16 at the headquarters of AppNexus in New York City. Presenters will share their ideas with an esteemed panel of judges including angel investor Esther Dyson, PatientsLikeMe President and Co-Founder Ben Heywood, Rhode Island School of Design president John Maeda, IDEO Life Sciences Chief Strategist Rodrigo Martinez, Games for Health Co-Founder Ben Sawyer, Fast Company staff writer Ben Schiller, NPR Science Correspondent Shankar Vedantam, as well as Robert Wood Johnson Foundation staff.

"I believe there is potentially huge ROI for the corporate sector in transforming our country's approach to health and health care,” said Esther Dyson. “But there is also an important role for philanthropy in the kinds of long-term demonstration projects and research that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation fosters through its Pioneer Portfolio. I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to work with RWJF to help them find and refine those projects."

In addition to the potential of funding, Pioneer Pitch Day provides participants with an unprecedented opportunity to present their ideas to an audience that will include a range of funders, thought leaders and change agents working towards a common goal of health and health care innovation.


About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, measurable, and timely change. For more than 40 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter at or on Facebook at


AppNexus, which offers the most powerful, open and customizable advertising technology platform, serves the largest and most innovative buyers and sellers of online advertising, including Microsoft Advertising Exchange, Interactive Media (Deutsche Telekom) and Collective. Led by the pioneer’s of the Web’s original ad exchanges at Yahoo!’s Right Media and Google’s DoubleClick, AppNexus offers the industry’s most advanced technology platform that empowers companies to build, manage and optimize their entire online advertising businesses. Based in New York City, AppNexus is backed by an outstanding group of investors, including Technology Crossover Ventures, Microsoft, Venrock, Kodiak Venture Partners, Tribeca Venture Partners, First Round Capital, Marc Andreessen, Ben Horowitz, Ron Conway and Khosla Ventures. For more information, visit