Medical Capital Innovation Competition: AR/VR/XR is the New Reality

Matthew Miller knows opportunity when he sees it. In 2016, he learned that Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County was launching a $100,000 business plan competition for rising stars in healthcare IT. There was no formal plan for moving forward after the competition, but Miller knew it was something the city, the region and even the state should take advantage of it -- and do something. So, he did something.

Miller came up with the idea for the Medical Capital Innovation Competition (MCIC).

Miller’s initial goals with MCIC were two-fold: highlight health tech innovation happening in Cleveland, northeast Ohio and the state. He also aimed to expose the area’s healthcare institutions to the more innovative startups – and ultimately attract those startups to locate in the area.

The idea got support from Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, and MetroHealth System. This year ProMedica also became a MCIC Healthcare Partner. Momentum has grown and the third annual MCIC will take place April 17-18, 2019 at HIMSS Innovation & Conference Center.  It is officially sponsored byBioEnterprise, along with Cuyahoga County, Jumpstart, and HIMSS.

“HIMSS jumped in from the beginning,” recalls Miller. “They embraced it and understood it. The idea was to use the HIMSS Innovation and Conference Center for Day One of the event because it’s the perfect setting for mentoring and practice pitch sessions. For Day Two, we do the pitch competition in one of the ballrooms in the convention center.”

Beyond providing the right space for innovation, Miller credits HIMSS with helping to get the word out about MCIC and helping find expert judges who add value for the startups, representing healthcare systems, venture capital groups, and successful entrepreneurs. “HIMSS has supported the event because it’s about the leading edge of healthcare. It’s about what’s coming tomorrow.”

How MCIC works

Miller himself has been a judge on countless pitch events over the years --- and knew what he didn’t like. He set out to change those elements with MCIC. “We made it a two-day event so a startup could come here and compete and get a lot of value out of it even if they don’t win. They won’t just know they placed sixth and get no feedback. I really wanted to avoid that.”

On Day One of MCIC, the theme is “prepare the teams to win.” That includes mentoring, pitch practices, and networking. Startups can modify their pitch decks and re-think their presentations. “There’s a huge amount of feedback and a wealth of advice and knowledge,” explains Miller.

On Day Two, it’s a classic 10-minute pitch with five minutes for questions – in order to get through about 20 presentations and put pressure on the startups – the same kind they’ll feel when presenting to venture capital groups. “They need to have the experience of a time limit and be clear and concise.”

MCIC also provides a collegiate division to give opportunities to student researchers, from undergrads to medical school students. They get the same experience, mentoring and networking but aren’t judged against the startups.

Why AR/VR/XR is the theme for 2019

“Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology is one of the most promising new frontiers in healthcare,” says Miller. “I’ve been involved with technology for way longer than I’ll admit, starting as an assembler programmer and machine language programmer who’s evolved into someone focused on artificial intelligence, data and visualization. All the institutions around Cleveland are looking at AR/VR as a fabulous tool coming. What better topic to reach out to the world and say, show us the best of the best - come in and let’s see what you can do.”

Startups for this 2019 event need to have AR/VR/XR technology that is fairly well-developed, so the field of contenders will be smaller this year. Winning teams at MCIC receive cash prizes totaling $100,000, a co-development agreement with a leading healthcare institution, and opportunities for a pilot project. “There’s no other setting in the world where a startup can walk away with that,” says Miller. “And what better topic to rally around than virtual, augmented, and extended reality technologies?”

Miller encourages all healthcare tech startups to learn more about the 3rd  Annual Medical Capital InnovationCompetition – not only for the opportunity to win, but for the added value of expert feedback, meaningful mentoring, and relevant industry networking.