Elnaz Sarabchian, winner of Hofstra University's Healthcare Entrepreneurship Community Challenge...

Elnaz Sarabchian, winner of Hofstra University's Healthcare Entrepreneurship Community Challenge last year, seen on Oct. 2, 2018. Credit: Hofstra/Philip Hinds

Hofstra University is hosting its second Healthcare Entrepreneurship Community Challenge, offering more than $60,000 in prize money for business ideas that improve the health of underserved communities in the metropolitan region.

The competition, overseen by the university’s Center for Entrepreneurship, is accepting proposals for products and service ideas that address community health problems, especially in lower-income communities. Partners on the business competition include the School of Health Professions and Human Services, Hofstra’s medical and business schools, and Northwell Ventures, the investment arm of New Hyde Park-based Northwell Health.

This year’s topic is “creating wellness,” and the aim is to find ideas that address “nontraditional” factors that contribute to overall wellness, including housing, transportation, education, criminal justice issues, financial literacy and economic development.

Proposals for this year’s challenge are due March 15. Last year Hofstra doctoral graduate Elnaz Sarabchian took home the first-place prize of $15,000 for her business MedAux, a startup that uses text messaging software to keep patients and health care teams in communication.

“The health care challenge is a unique entrepreneurship program because not only are we seeking products and services that are health innovations, but we’re also seeking to ensure those health care innovations have a positive impact on health in an underserved community,” said Stacey Sikes, executive dean of entrepreneurship and business development at Hofstra.

The challenge, part of a three-year business startup training program at Hofstra, is funded by a $485,000 federal grant the school received in 2017 from the Regional Innovation Strategies program, a national grant competition tied to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Applications will be reviewed by a panel of entrepreneurial instructors, who will select a number of those applicants to participate in a three-day startup “boot camp” at Hofstra’s business incubator.

Cash prizes for this year’s winners will include $26,000 for first place, $18,000 for second and $13,000 for third. In addition, Hofstra's National Center for Suburban Studies will award a $5,000 Community Impact Award for entrepreneurs to seek "to the problems of providing health care in underserved suburbs."   

Winners will be announced at a pitch competition on Sept. 24 at the university.

Applications for the competition can be submitted to NYHealthChallenge.com.

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