‘Speed Dating’ for the Latest Health Care Innovation

The Mack Institute enables innovation across the Penn campus,

The Mack Institute enables innovation across the Penn campus, for instance, through Innovation Clinics. Photo credit: University Communications.

One key piece of the Mack Institute’s mission is to enable innovation across the Penn community. To that end, on Nov. 7, 2014, the institute hosted the first of its Innovation Clinics, a workshop series aimed at the intersection of medicine, engineering and business.

The goal of this and subsequent clinics is to help establish and empower a community of innovators on Penn’s campus. The pilot was led by Christian Terwiesch, Wharton’s Andrew M. Heller Professor and Mack Institute co-director, and co-organized by Brian Litt, director of the Center of Neuroengineering and Therapeutics. Attendees included faculty, postdoctoral fellows, master’s students, and doctoral or M.D. trainees interested in or currently developing new medical devices and technologies.

Innovation Clinic participants sketch out their ideas.

Innovation Clinic participants sketch out their ideas.

The clinic started with an overview of innovation tournaments as a way to generate and evaluate new business opportunities, whether for small, new ventures or big, established enterprises. After discussing the theory of innovation tournaments, the group set out to actively engage in an ideation exercise in the style of an accelerated mock innovation tournament.

Prof. Christian Terwisch

Prof. Christian Terwisch

Attendees paired off for “speed dating” sessions to brainstorm new ideas for software, services, devices and apps that would improve health care delivery. Then participants took to the classroom walls, sketching out their concepts and moving about the room to refine and comment on each other’s ideas. Next came the lighting round; individuals had exactly one minute or less to pitch their improved ideas before the group voted on the most promising ones. Finally, they discussed the challenges and opportunities of moving these ideas forward.

The next Innovation Clinic, led by Mack Institute Executive Director Saikat Chaudhuri, ENG’97,W’97, on December 5, will pick up where the first clinic left off, going into greater detail about how entrepreneurs can take their ideas to market and compete (or collaborate) with established players.


Learn more about the power of innovation tournaments in the above video with Karl Ulrich, Wharton’s vice dean of innovation and CIBC Endowed Professor.


Editor’s note: The original version of this post appeared on Nov. 12, 2014, on the Mack Institute News page.



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