CCA Pitch Day: Tenth Anniversary, Part 1

The Pittsburgh Health Data Alliance (PHDA) recently completed the tenth proposal cycle with their Pitt partner, the Center for Commercial Applications of Healthcare Data (CCA). Each cycle culminates in a Pitch Day where each proposal team shares details about their desired research and commercialization path in the hopes of being selected for funding to carry out the work. CMU investigator-led teams who approach the PHDA through the Center for Machine Learning and Health (CMLH) at CMU progress through a similar process to Pitch Day as well.

As part of this important milestone, the PHDA leaders wanted to highlight the different aspects of Pitch Day and how the proposal teams prepare with support from the CCA. In Part 1 of this blog series, we will be highlighting the various components that go into Pitch Day.

The CCA/sciVelo team has helped researchers hone and develop over 90 project proposals since the center’s founding in 2015, resulting in 16 early-stage research awardees and positive commercial and scientific outcomes. The CCA team works closely with Pitt, sciVelo, and additional groups within the Innovation Institute, all of which strive to advance the translation of exciting and meaningful research.

The CCA works with University investigators who show an interest in translating their innovative research into digital health projects with commercial translation endpoints. The CCA identifies University investigators with these interests through Call for Proposal cycles, as well as on-campus events and participation in other innovation-focused programming.

After initial proposals have been crafted and reviewed, the PHDA team selects the most compelling teams as finalists to participate in Pitch Day. Pitch Day is an opportunity for the investigators to share more information with the PHDA team in a live format, address questions from the audience, and for the PHDA team to learn more about each potential project in order to advance toward selecting awardees.

CCA Architects and Associates work with research teams to create pitch presentations, which are quite different from the research presentations that are familiar to many. Whereas research presentations traditionally focus on novel methods, experimental results, and advancing the scientific literature, pitch presentations need to convey an unmet clinical need, a potential solution that leverages advanced data analytics, differences from competitors, competency of the team, and a path to market – all in about 10 minutes!

By communicating an unmet market need and early-stage commercial translation path, each team offers the funding group something that looks more similar to an investor pitch. Pitch Day allows each team to share a problem and their proposed solution (discovered via research project) and how it could be used in a real-world setting. Teams then answer questions from the audience, which includes both the funding group and subject matter experts who weigh in on the problem and feasibility of the solution, as well as potential barriers to adoption in a real-world setting.

Every year, our PHDA team is impressed with the quality, creativity, and delivery of pitches from research teams. While it takes a lot of work to create a great pitch, the experience and learnings from doing so set teams on a path for success when it comes to translating research to commercialization!

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog series to learn more about how we plan for Pitch Day.

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