The 4th Annual Innovations Pitch Competition

The 4th Annual Innovations Pitch Competition focused on bright ideas to reduce risk, improve prediction and deliver better healthcare tools for outbreak-prone diseases in low-resource settings. The competition highlighted tools and methods to improve two of the most consequential threats to a healthy and sustainable world: resilience in the face of a pandemic and reducing the deleterious impact of climate change.

The innovations proposed were judged on being marketable, scalable and rooted in scientific rigor.  They could address, but were not limited to:

  • Pandemic solutions including (but not limited to) vaccine acceptance, tracking of vaccine effectiveness, virus variant tracking, quality diagnostics, innovative approaches to prevention of disease spread, and predictive forecasting of emerging threats.
  • Identifying and mitigating the direct and indirect effects of climate change and its  consequences of vector-competency, and human and animal health.
Grand Prize Winner: Farhana Sultana, icddr,b, Dhaka, Bangladesh 
Developing a machine to produce jute cellulose-based sanitary pads for sustainable menstrual health
2nd Place: Vivek Jason Vayaraj, University Malaya, Kuala Lumpur City, Malaysia
International Pandemic Preparedness Centre (IPPC): Unified Infectious Disease Surveillance System 
3rd - 5th Place (alphabetically): 
Sachini Fernando, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Nugegoda, Sri Lanka
Hiruni Harichandra, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Nugegoda, Sri Lanka 
RaBCO - Rapid, breath detector for COVID-19
Deus Kamya, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda 
Phage-based capsules for V. cholerae decontamination in pit latrines and other reservoirs in Uganda 
Audience Favorite: Deus Kamya, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda
Phage-based capsules for V. cholerae decontamination in pit latrines and other reservoirs in Uganda 

Thank you to our judges for their participation in our 4th Annual Competition. 
  • Koya Allen, ISGlobal, Barcelona, Spain
  • Dan Bausch, FIND, Geneva, Switzerland
  • Margaret Glancey, VecTech, Baltimore, MD, United States
  • Thomas M. Lendvay, Seattle Children's Hospital, Seattle, WA, United States
  • Mathias Strobl, Roche Diagnostics, Penzberg, Germany

2020: Innovations Pitch Competition Session for Healthy Children, Healthy Planet: The 3rd Annual Innovations Pitch Competition session, focused on the interconnectivity of children’s current and future health with planetary health and sustainability. This year we challenged innovators to provide proposals that support a healthier, more sustainable world, with a particular focus on benefit for future generations. Innovations should be rooted in scientific rigor, and Innovators should be able to demonstrate that their innovation will benefit the health of our planet and will impact children’s health today and in the future. 

Grand prize winner: Sreekar Mantena 
Smartphone-based system for imaging and automated analysis of the corneal endothelium

2nd Place: Molly Klarman: MotoMeds; pediatic telehealth and mobile pharmacy services 

3rd-5th Place (listed alphabetically):
  •  Prince Kajazi Kaude, RN: Improving survival of children with Burkitt Lymphoma by means of ultrasound screening 
  • Lok Pokhrel: Smart Rapid-Acting Antiviral Therapy (Smart-RAAT) against COVID-19
  • Adam Soomro: Project DIY (Don It Young)
Audience Favorite: Prince Kajazi Kaude, RN

Thank you to our judges for their participation in our 3rd Annual Competition. 
  • Dan Bausch, UK Public Health Rapid Support Team, London, UK
  • Rebecca Richards-Kortum, Rice University, Houston, TX
  • Mathias Strobl, Roche Diagnostics GmbH, Penzberg, Germany
  • Minmin Yen, PhagePro, Boston, MA

Note of Appreciation

Many thanks to the Ronald McDonald House Charities® (RMHC) for their celebration of Peter Hotez, MD, PhD, FASTMH, FAAP, and support of our mission. Many thanks to Roche for their funding. A special thank you to Dr. Hotez, an ASTMH Past President and recipient of the 2019 RMHC Awards of Excellence, for sharing his grant award with the Society.

Previous Finalists and Former Symposia
2019: Innovations for Response to Outbreak-Prone Diseases: A Challenge to Innovators to Pitch their Ideas for Reducing Risk, Improving Prediction and Delivering Better Healthcare Tools in Resource-Limited Settings. Innovative ideas for mitigating outbreak-prone disease risk through novel uses of social communication, improved predictive capabilities, or development of better tools to detect disease, control disease, and disseminate information on disease spread.

Grand prize winner: Minmin Yen, PhagePro
Innovation: Prophalytic-Vc: A Phage-based Intervention to Disrupt Household Transmission of Cholera
For more information, visit their website.

2nd Place: Chang Hee Kim, GoDx: Rapid, Low-cost Field Diagnostic for Pathogens that Cause Diarrhea Outbreaks

3rd - 5th Places (listed alphabetically)
  • Laura Braun, Capta Diagnostics: Smart Microscopy for Diagnosing Soil-transmitted Helminths and Schistosomiasis  
  • Holiday Goodreau, TickTracker: TickTracker Mobile Application
  • Chouaibou Mouhamadou, Environment Entomology Textile Associates: A Trapping Bed Net (T-Net) to Overcome Mosquito Insecticide Resistance
‚ÄčAudience Favorite: Laura Braun, Capta Diagnostics

ASTMH September 2020 Newsletter article: Catching Up With 2019 Innovations Pitch Winner, Minmin Yen, PhD

Thank you to the 2019 Innovations Pitch Competition educational supporter, Roche Diagnostics, Inc., and our sponsors ASTMH and Vulcan, Inc.
2018: Innovations for Mitigation Response to Outbreak-Prone Diseases: A Challenge to Innovations for Reducing Risk, Improving Prediction and Delivering Better Healthcare Tools. Topics for innovation include mitigating risk through social communication, improving predictive capabilities, delivering better tools (surveillance, diagnostics, data-sharing, vector control, as examples), and other novel innovations to prevent, detect and respond to outbreaks of international concern.

Grand prize winner: Tristan Ford and Margaret Glancey, VectorWEB
 Innovation: A Novel System for Autonomous Vector Surveillance

2nd Place: Camila De Oliveira, FIOCRUZ: Rapid strip test for ID and surveillance of cutaneous leishmaniasis risk areas

3rd -5th (listed alphabetically)
  • Rinki Deb, Determining Indoor Residual Spraying Quality using Electromagnetic Wave Sensors
  • David Serre, A Universal and high-throughput vector-borne disease surveillance assay
  • Rhys O'Neill and David Cyprian, Novetta: Assessments, Boots on the Ground, Communications, Data...: An A-Z Solution for Social Mobilization in Developing Regions

(Winners of the 2018 Innovations Pitch Competition, Tristan Ford [left] and Meg Glancey [center] of VectorWEB at the Johns Hopkins Center for Bioengineering Innovation and Design, and their professor Dr. Soumyadipta Acharya [right], the Graduate Program Director of the JHU CBID.)

ASTMH October 2019 Newsletter article: Whatever happened to the 2018 Innovations Pitch Competition Winner, VectorWEB?

Thank you to the 2018 Innovations Pitch Competition sponsors, ASTMH and Vulcan, Inc.