Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED), working with the Washington D.C. Economic Partnership (WDCEP) and in collaboration with Johnson & Johnson Innovation recently launched the first health equity QuickFire Challenge focused on the District.

The Washington, DC Health Innovation QuickFire Challenge, designed to address the chronic health care challenges faced in underserved communities within the District, has a goal of developing strategies to help achieve health equity for all.

“It is no secret that socioeconomic status and income inequalities pose increased health risks within communities of color around the world,” Bowser said. “We are committed to creating a society that provides equitable access to health care and prioritizes the continued health and wellness of all residents. I thank Johnson & Johnson Innovation for their collaboration and look forward to the outcome.”

The Challenge invites innovators from across the globe to submit potential science and technology solutions aimed at addressing racial and socioeconomic disparities that impact health in underserved communities of color. Submissions must include innovations that transform patient outcomes in maternal mortality, cardiovascular diseases and systemic autoimmunity, or kidney diseases.

“Health innovation is critical to building a more equitable Washington, D.C.,” said Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development John Falcicchio. “Underserved communities face an overwhelming amount of challenges not only regarding income and education but health care as well. This QuickFire Challenge will help develop solutions to inequalities in health care that too many residents face and I am excited to see what innovative developments these competing companies create.”

Through an existing grant, WDCEP will award up to four innovators a total of $250,000, with grant increments starting at $50,000. Awardees will also receive an invitation to reside at JLABS @ Washington, DC, a 32,000-square-foot incubator located at the new Children’s National Research & Innovation Campus in Northwest on a portion of the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center Campus. Awardees will also receive access to mentorship, resources and programming. With Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS strategically located in the District, resident companies will benefit from this innovative ecosystem, which includes Children’s National Research Institute and Virginia Tech, with proximity to federal research institutions and agencies, university and academic research centers, and a robust bio-health community.

Awardees will be evaluated by an expert panel of reviewers and judges based on their ability to address these scientific gaps. Selection criteria include the uniqueness of the idea, potential impact on human health, the feasibility of the idea, thoroughness of approach and identification of key resources and a plan to further the idea.

The deadline to apply for the Washington DC Health Innovation QuickFire Challenge is June 11. For more information and to apply, go to

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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