Maggie McConaghy

More than 25 students recently gathered to compete in the first-ever Digital Health Ideathon. Co-sponsored by the Peter T. Paul Entrepreneurship Center and the Center for Digital Health Innovation, students studying Business Administration, Computer Science, Nursing, and Engineering came together to get creative, think critically, and try to win $500.

ideathon presentation

Participants were tasked with identifying potential digital health solutions to real-world problems relating to heart health and stress management, genomics, and long-term older adult care. On day one, they ideated over burritos and chips—not a bad way to brainstorm!—and then went home to ponder their concepts.  Students came back on day two excited to pick one idea and roll with it. They spent the day developing their solutions with each other and experts in the field, and wrapped up with presentations that were judged by community members.

The Ideathon was organized by and Belle Kenoyer and Josh Cyr of the eCenter. Marguerite Corvini, director of the Center for Digital Health Innovation at UNH, introduced the students—some of whom had little background in health sciences—to key concepts relating to digital health. Kim Gaskell, VP of Operations at The Riverwoods Group, Clarissa Michalak, Clinical Assistant Professor in the Nursing department, and Kim Brian, Clinical Assistant Professor in the Kinesiology department, then related those concepts to their fields.

According to Corvini, “I was so impressed with the creative and out-of-the-box digital health solutions students developed to address various health-related issues. Students came to the Ideathon without any idea what they were going to pitch, and by the end of the experience, they all gave impressive presentations on very viable digital health solutions.”

ideathon 2

In fact, there were so many winning concepts to choose from that three $500 prizes were awarded. The prize-winning ideas included: The iPee—a device to test urine in a toilet bowl to detect urinary tract infections. The Love & Listenan app for adults with dementia that would have the AI-generated voice of a loved one to help soothe an agitated patient. And, the Guardian Angela coat that rapidly inflates to prevent injury when it detects a fall—like an upper body airbag.

What’s next for these bright students and their ideas? Many of the groups plan to go on to compete in this spring’s Paul J. Holloway Prize Competition, USNH's business plan competition for undergraduate and graduate students, where students from UNH, Plymouth State University, Keene State College, and the College of Professional Studies will compete for cash prizes totaling $40,000.