PInCh 2022: What is your bold solution to a challenging health problem?

Don't know where to start? Think about these example starter questions and a specific problem to solve.

  • What is a barrier to preventing, treating, or curing a specific disease or health condition?
  • What stops a patient from getting the care or information they need?
  • What is a barrier to providing ideal mental health care?
  • Is there a new way to personalize care?
  • How might we give everyone more control over their health?

A few examples of types of problems that can be addressed include, but are not limited to, how might we: 

  • Help patients access, understand, and act upon their healthcare data?
  • Use technology (e.g., wearables, sensors, etc.) to improve and/or maintain health?
  • Promote better adherence to health recommendations?
  • Amplify positive lifestyle behaviors at various stages of life (e.g., physical activity, diet, sleep, etc.)?
  • Improve cognitive development and/or cognitive retention?
  • Prevent the occurrence of health conditions and/or injuries?
  • Offer understandable, accessible, and engaging health information for various education levels?
  • Determine how social networks might improve health outcomes?
  • Use human-centered design to improve patient care?
  • Engage community partners and stakeholders to promote healthy behaviors?
  • Decrease the incidence of trauma and violence and/or improve post-traumatic outcomes?
  • Identify ways to improve lifelong health literacy?
  • Develop strategies for using personalized information (i.e., genetics, microbiome) to improve physical and mental health?
  • Develop ways to mitigate downstream effects of adverse experiences?

Am I eligible to participate if my idea uses existing technology?

Yes. You may be eligible if your proposal utilizes existing technology in a novel way.

Am I eligible to participate if my idea is commercially available?

We ask that you do not propose something that already exists.

What can I learn from the Innovation Institute?

The Innovation Institute is at the core of innovation and entrepreneurship at the University of Pittsburgh. They can provide a wealth of knowledge and advice as you conceptualize your project, regarding Intellectual Property (IP) and the ability to support and promote app development. Visit:

Can I collaborate with an external partner?

Yes. We highly encourage collaborations both internal and external to Pitt.

What can I learn from the Office of Investigator-Sponsored IND and IDE Support (O3IS)?

If your project could potentially require any FDA approval, O3IS can help you to understand the requirements. Some innovations will require FDA approval and it is necessary to understand that ahead of time so you can submit a project and timeline that is realistic. Visit:

Contest Details

How does it work?

You begin by having some interest in working to solve a problem related to this challenge. Maybe you already have some ideas. What you need now is a team to solve that problem, develop a solution, and enter the competition with a presentation of your idea.

Who can participate?

Each team must have a University of Pittsburgh faculty member (from any department, any level). Additional team members can be students (graduate or undergraduate), postdocs/fellows, or professionals from the community outside the university. We encourage teams to include people from different perspectives working together to develop an innovative solution.

Can students or faculty from other universities (e.g. CMU, Duquesne, Chatam, Carlow) participate in this contest?

Anyone from another university or organization can participate as long as the team includes a University of Pittsburgh faculty member.

Does the University of Pittsburgh faculty member have to be the team leader?

No. In many teams from past contests, the University of Pittsburgh faculty member was not the team leader. A key responsibility of the Pitt faculty member is to act as a signatory for PInCh award funding if your project is chosen as one of the winners.

What can I do if I don’t yet have a University of Pittsburgh faculty member on my team?

Because of the award mechanism, teams must include a Pitt faculty member, but this person can come from any discipline across the university. If you do not already know a likely collaborator, please contact one of the CTSI research facilitators.

Who are the judges for this contest?

The all-volunteer judges’ panel is made up of University of Pittsburgh faculty members, community members, and individuals with connections to the local business/innovation/venture community.

I submitted a video to a previous PInCh challenge. Can I submit the same video for the new challenge?

We will accept entries that were submitted in previous PInCh challenges as long as they are clearly responsive to the new challenge question.

Does my idea need to be a device or a product?

Solutions do not need to be a device or product. Proposed solutions can span the spectrum of healthcare (diagnostics, treatment, interventions, prevention, predictive solutions, patient care, provider and patient tools, community programs, etc.) and the individual (gene, cell, tissue, system, individual).


Can I change my project title after entering?

The project title that you choose is important because it will be used publicly on the PInCh website and other printed contest materials. You can change your project title until the end of the Initial Round submission period. To request a project title change after the Initial Round submission period has ended, please contact a PInCh administrator at

What if my video is longer than two minutes?

Videos that are longer than two minutes will not be reviewed. The time constraint was chosen to encourage teams to focus their presentation on the critical aspects of their idea.

I noticed after submitting my video that the sound had been removed. Is there any way to add music back into the video?

Please confirm that you are not using any copyrighted music in your video presentation. If you did not use copyrighted material, contact a PInCh administrator at to resolve your issue.

How can I find music that is not copyrighted to use in my video?

Open source music can be found at websites like or by searching the Internet for “open source music” or “royalty free music”.

Intellectual Property

What if my solution is an invention?

If you believe your solution is an invention, it is important to submit an Invention Disclosure to the University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute:

After submission, the Innovation Institute can help you figure out whether your idea is appropriate for a patent, copyright, or other intellectual property, along with how it might fit into a commercial business.

What if my solution is NOT an invention?

Even if you don’t think there is any new invention or idea in what you are proposing, the Innovation Institute can help you figure out how you might be able to commercialize your solution. Please submit an invention disclosure through the online process:

How do I determine if my solution is an invention?

Not all of your innovative ideas are appropriate for patent, trademark or are viable as a commercial product. If this is the case, the team at the Innovation Institute can help you to conclude this and will let you know that you don’t need to bother with any of the work involved in protecting your creativity. As an example, if your idea involves having a physical therapist placed in a community center to help facilitate activity of people in their daily lives, there is not likely to be any particular reason a patent, trademark or copyright is necessary.

Do I need to talk to the Innovation Institute about the solution I am presenting in this competition?

It can be beneficial to meet with someone in the office in advance of your submission. The Innovation Institute can help to make sure that you publish and present your ideas in a way that will ensure that you retain your rights in terms of invention and licensing, as well as to better present your ideas to the reviewing committee. However, a meeting with the Innovation Institute is not required before submission.

Why would I want to commercialize my solution? I want to have it be free and publicly available.

There are many cases of a solution getting much wider distribution and adoption if it is commercialized than if it is in the public domain. Commercialization just means introducing your solution to the market. It is an approach toward introducing your solution to the market that is built on using market forces to help people to learn about your solution, and hopefully adopt it.

What process does the Innovation Institute follow to make a recommendation?

The Innovation Institute analyzes Invention Disclosures for intellectual property protection and commercial potential and presents recommendations to the University’s Technology Transfer Committee (TTC) on which innovations the University should invest its limited time, money, and other resources. The TTC assesses these recommendations and decides the path forward for these innovations. If the decision is to move forward with patenting, then appropriate steps can be taken that enable the patenting to happen and also enable the inventor to pursue their goals related to publication and presentation. However, patenting is just one procedure that the University uses in commercializing technology developed from University research.

Will the University of Pittsburgh prevent me from publishing?

No. The Innovation Institute is here to work with you to achieve your goals regarding publication and presentation of your work while still protecting your rights as an inventor or creator of something. In order to make this work effectively, you will need to submit your Invention Disclosure to the Innovation Institute in advance so that they are aware of your ideas and the time-frame for meeting your publication goals.

Are there any terms and conditions I need to agree to in order to participate in this challenge?

Yes. You are required to comply with the following Terms and Conditions. These Terms and Conditions are consistent with the obligations you would have as a condition to receiving research funding from the University or from a federal program. The University’s intellectual property policies may be found at the following links: