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Innovation Challenge aims to connect novel ideas for diabetes care with investors


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3 minutes

Robert Gabbay, MD, PhD
Robert Gabbay, MD, PhD

Six diabetes innovators will have the opportunity to pitch their ideas to a panel of potential funders and a live audience in a new feature at the 83rd Scientific Sessions.

The Innovation Challenge, featuring finalists selected from a competitive pool of dozens of applications, will take place Saturday, June 24, at 4:30 p.m. PT in Halls G-H of the San Diego Convention Center. This session also will be available via livestream for registered meeting participants.

“The Scientific Sessions have always been all these wonderful scientific and clinical presentations, and there’s a whole other area of innovation that’s going on in the digital health world and with startup companies focused on the various aspects of diabetes,” said ADA Chief Scientific and Medical Officer Robert Gabbay, MD, PhD. “We wanted to leverage all of that exciting work being done. That’s what the Innovation Challenge is about.”

Modeled after the “Shark Tank” TV show in which entrepreneurs pitch business ideas in hopes of winning over an investor, the Innovation Challenge tasks competitors to present their best ideas on how to improve the lives of people living with diabetes.

The contestants each have five minutes to pitch an idea, followed by questions from a panel of three judges. The live audience will have the opportunity to vote on the best pitches and help determine which final three will earn a private audience with the judges, who represent three potential funders: Helmsley Charitable Trust, Swiss Diabetes Venture Fund, and Startup Health.

“It’s a different format, a different way of doing things,” Dr. Gabbay said. “We want to stimulate people to run with their ideas.”

The winning pitches need to have a “wow” factor that generates excitement for a novel solution to transform diabetes care.

“It’s a bright new idea, but it needs to be doable,” Dr. Gabbay said. “It’s easy to come up with an idea that’s tough to do. We want something that can be done and for contestants to convince the judges that they are the people to do it.”

Having a business model will be important too.

“Often in the scientific and clinical community, we focus less on that, but part of what allows solutions to scale and reach millions of people is an effective business model of sustaining whatever solution they have,” Dr. Gabbay said.

The application period for the 2023 Innovation Challenge has closed, but anyone attending the Scientific Sessions may participate in the live audience.

For those interested in pitching an idea in next year’s Innovation Challenge or in another setting, the session Learn How to Pitch Your Entrepreneurial Idea and Get Funding will be on Saturday, June 24, at 11:30 a.m. PT in Room 24.

“We think that some of these innovators and startup companies are going to be the ones to move the needle on diabetes—and some of them already have,” Dr. Gabbay said. “That’s the bottom line. We want to make the lives of people affected by diabetes better.”