The 2015 inaugural Healthcare Innovation Pitch event.The 2015 inaugural Healthcare Innovation Pitch event.

Thirteen teams of local health care entrepreneurs with promising ideas, including how to address unmet medical needs for Milwaukee’s underserved populations, are gearing up for two events that will ultimately see them pitch to a national panel of venture capitalists and compete for seed funding.

The events are part of the second biannual Healthcare Innovation Pitch (HIP) program, an effort of Bridge to Cures, with support from Concordia University Wisconsin, MCW/CTSI, WEDC, Quarles and Brady, HealthTech MKE, Dohmen Life Sciences and the UW-Madison School of Business “Initiative for Studies of Transformation Entrepreneurship.”

The first event, the HIP Kickoff, will take place from 5-9 p.m. Sept. 26 in the Concordia Center for Environmental Stewardship on Concordia University Wisconsin’s Mequon campus, 12800 N. Lake Shore Drive. The HIP Event—the culminating event of the program—will take place from 5-8 p.m. Nov. 8 at the Hilton Milwaukee City Center in downtown Milwaukee, 509 W. Wisconsin Ave. The public is invited to attend both events.

The Kickoff offers an introduction to the HIP program with compelling keynote lectures that will lay out the need for the initiative. The evening’s speakers will include Bevan Baker, Milwaukee commissioner of health; Joy Tapper, executive director of Milwaukee Health Care Partnership; Cheryl Lulias, president of the Medical Home Network; Art Jones, CMO and founder of MHN; and Dr. Daniel Sem, Concordia’s Batterman School of Business dean and CEO of Bridge to Cures. Concordia University President Rev. Dr. Patrick T. Ferry will deliver opening remarks.

The Kickoff event will also offer the participating teams the first of multiple mentoring and coaching workshop opportunities leading up to the Nov. 8 pitch event. From 7:15-9 p.m. on Sept. 26th, participants will hear a sample winning pitch, receive help crafting their business models and take advice from circulating HealthTech mentors.

During the November event, teams will then pitch their ideas to a panel of venture capitalists and serial entrepreneurs from across the country. The event is designed as a toned down and more structured version of the ABC show “Shark Tank”.

“We’re thrilled to again offer this opportunity to the area’s healthcare entrepreneurs, expanding on the success of our first HIP competition by now partnering with UW-Madison,” says Sem. “We now have teams from Milwaukee, Chicago and Madison, leveraging Milwaukee’s strategic location in the center of a health care innovation triangle.”

Innovations that came out of the inaugural HIP Event in 2014 include a novel biologic treatment for often-lethal pancreatic cancer, a novel treatment for stroke and traumatic brain injury, personalized medicine with initial application in organ transplants, and cancer diagnostic for veterinary applications. The $50,000 grand prize winner of the inaugural HIP competition, Dr. Michael James, president and CSO of Essential Biotechnology, will be present at the Kickoff event to deliver an example of a successful pitch to this year’s HIP hopefuls.

The plan is to cycle locations for future HIP events, says Sem. In two years, the third annual Healthcare Innovation Pitch will occur in Madison.

This year’s pitch event is part of Startup Week Milwaukee, an annual entrepreneur-led event that brings entrepreneurs, investors, corporate innovators and local leaders together to build momentum and celebrate Southeast Wisconsin’s unique entrepreneurial identity. The HIP Event also coincides with the national Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer conference, a cornerstone of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ congressionally mandated outreach efforts.

“The Healthcare Innovation Pitch event is one exciting piece of the offerings available to budding entrepreneurs that week,” Sem says. “We’re looking forward to seeing the innovations that come out of this year’s effort, which represent the next generation of new therapies, diagnostics, and even business models for delivery health care more efficiently.”


At a Glance

Concordia is involved in two upcoming events that are part of the Healthcare Innovation Pitch program, which encourages local entrepreneurs with their business ventures by providing seed funding, coaching and resources:

  • Sept. 26, 5-9 p.m. — Healthcare Innovation Pitch Kickoff, Concordia Center for Environmental Stewardship, 12800 N. Lake Shore Drive, Mequon
  • Nov. 8, 5-8 p.m. — Healthcare Innovation Pitch Event, Hilton Milwaukee City Center, 509 W. Wisconsin Ave.

The HIP Event coincides with two other entrepreneurial events happening in Milwaukee:

— This story is written by Kali Thiel, director of university communications for Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor. She may be reached at or 262-243-2149.

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