As medical data increasingly highlights the serious impact of COVID-19 on children’s health, the National Capital Consortium for Pediatric Device Innovation (NCC-PDI) announces a special pitch competition focused on COVID-19-related pediatric medical devices that support home health monitoring and telehealth, and improve sustainability, resiliency and readiness in diagnosing and treating children during a pandemic.
Submissions for the competition are being accepted now through July 6 at the NCC-PDI website, Innovate4Kids.org, where complete details can be found. The competition is led by NCC-PDI co-founders the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation at Children’s National Hospital and the A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland and powered by nonprofit accelerator and NCC-PDI member, MedTech Innovator. The finals in the virtual pitch event will be held July 20. Winners will each receive a grant award of up to $50,000.
“Despite early reports that COVID-19 posed less of a threat to children, a recent study published by Children’s National shows that considerable numbers of pediatric patients are hospitalized and become critically ill from the disease,” said Kolaleh Eskandanian, Ph.D., MBA, PMP, vice president and chief innovation officer at Children’s National Hospital and principal investigator of NCC-PDI. “Innovation in children’s medical devices consistently lags behind that of adults and we need to change that if we are to confront the challenge to children’s health of COVID-19 and future pandemics.”
Funding for the competition is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and a philanthropic gift from Mei Xu, founder of e-commerce platform Yes She May, a site dedicated to women-owned brands. The creator of successful global businesses, Mei Xu is also a mother who understands the importance of pediatric specialty care and wants to encourage innovators who are developing solutions that can improve children’s healthcare.
“My family and I recognize the importance of continued advancements in pediatric healthcare and we are proud to partner with Children’s National Hospital on this effort.” said Xu. “This is a unique opportunity to fuel the work of brilliant entrepreneurs as they develop medical devices that can make a difference for children everywhere.”
Along with grant funding, one company from the competition will be selected by Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS to receive a one-year residency at JLABS @ Washington, D.C., which will be located on the new Children’s National Research and Innovation Campus currently under construction. In addition to the 2021 JLABS residency, the awardee will have access to the JLABS community and expert mentoring by the Johnson & Johnson family of companies. “We believe that supporting the community of innovators and entrepreneurs across the D.C. metropolitan area can foster new ideas and advance potential critical breakthroughs for children, so critical in the time of COVID-19 and beyond,” said Sally Allain, head of JLABS @ Washington, D.C.
Experts at the University of Maryland, where COVID-19 projects ranging from improved PPE to better virus testing are in progress, encourage device innovators to be mindful of how their innovation can currently, or with adaptation, serve children’s needs.
“The COVID-19 pandemic poses many new challenges to our healthcare system and it is vitally important that we focus resources and support on the unique needs of pediatric patients,” sais William E. Bentley, Ph.D., Robert E. Fischell distinguished professor and director of the Robert E. Fischell Institute for Biomedical Devices at the University of Maryland. “Innovation in pediatric healthcare makes an exponential difference because, by positively impacting the lives of children, we positively affect the lives of their families and caregivers as well.”
NCC-PDI is one of five members in the FDA’s Pediatric Device Consortia Grant Program created to support the development and commercialization of medical devices for children, which lags significantly behind the progress of adult medical devices. Along with Children’s National, University of Maryland and Medtech Innovator, NCC-PDI members include accelerator BioHealth Innovation and design firm Archimedic.
To date, NCC-PDI has mentored over 100 medical device sponsors to help advance their pediatric innovations, with seven devices having received either their FDA market clearance or CE marking. The consortium hosts a major pediatric pitch competition annually that showcases and awards promising pediatric innovations and provides a first-of-its-kind pediatric-focused accelerator program for finalists.