A group of philanthropists, medical-tech and business people have issued a $1 million challenge to healthcare innovators, entrepreneurs, engineers, and designers to develop real-world solutions for improving pulmonary fibrosis patients’ quality of life and eradicating the disease.
The lead player in the IPF Catalyst Challenge is Three Lakes Partners, an organization committed to ending IPF. Collaborating with it are the MATTER healthcare technology incubator; iIDEO, an innovation hub; and Common Pool, a global design and innovation consultant known for creating competitions to solve the world’s most pressing problems.
The $1 million cash and incentive prize is the first in Chicago’s history dedicated to the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or IPF.
“Too few people know about IPF, and far too few are developing solutions to help people suffering from this terrible disease,” Steven Collens, CEO of MATTER, said in a news release. “Working with Three Lakes Partners to engage a global community of entrepreneurs, researchers, designers, and industry experts, we will accelerate the development of technologies that will change the lives of people living with IPF.”
The announcement came at a two-day symposium that attracted the world’s foremost IPF experts and healthcare thought leaders. Mayor Rahm Emmanuel also attended the meeting at MATTER’s headquarters in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart.
“Solving big challenges like IPF is exactly why we created MATTER just two years ago,” Emanuel said. “The mission of this challenge will inspire Chicago’s thriving start-up community to create solutions that will improve the lives of individuals and families who are suffering from IPF.”
Three Lakes Partners said the IPF Catalyst Challenge is part of its commitment to forging a new vision for IPF. The new focus will be on creating smarter solutions for patients to manage their biggest need and biggest frustration: oxygen therapy.
In addition to oxygen, the challenge will include developing patient and caregiver management tools, creating devices and diagnostics to help patients, and pursuing innovative science that can lead to a cure.
“IPF kills approximately the same number of people annually as breast cancer, yet it remains an unknown disease that receives very little attention,” said Dr. Ken Bahk, managing director of Three Lakes Partners.
“Our mission is on behalf of patients and caregivers: to increase the visibility of this disease and to attack IPF from all sides — diagnosis, treatment, and patient quality of life — all by engaging the most innovative, aggressive, and experienced partners in our collective fight,” he said. “We are excited and grateful to work with our world-class collaborators MATTER, IDEO, and Common Pool in this first step, the IPF Catalyst Challenge.”