Lyfebulb and Loyola University Chicago Innovation Challenge: “Meeting Our Moment – Reimagining Innovation, Improving Health Equity, and Building Resiliency”

Virtual Summit
November 16-17, 2021


August 2, 2021
Applications Open
September 17, 2021
Submission Deadline
October 14, 2021
Finalist Announcement
November 16-17, 2021
Innovation Challenge
November 18, 2021
Winner Announcement


Dr. Katherine Grill received a BS in Art Therapy, MA in Psychology, and PhD in Behavioral Neuroscience. While completing her PhD, she worked at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC conducting NIH research. She was also the co-founder of a community health program for young adults called Mindful Millennials. In 2017, Dr. Grill moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to learn about using technology to increase access to mental health care. In 2018 she founded Neolth, a technology company that provides personalized, on-demand mental health support to teens through a self-guided platform.

As the Co-founder and CEO of Neolth, Dr. Grill has won numerous awards, including the 2021 Timmy Finalist as a Best Tech for Social Good company (competition ongoing), 2020 Startup of the Year EdTech award, Top 100 Startup in 2020 by SOTY, Top 100 company in 2020 by Pepperdine University, the SoGal San Francisco Regional Pitch Competition, and the SoGal Global Finals Pitch Competition, the largest pitch competition for female founders in the world. She led the company to receive a $700,000 pre-seed investment, with notable investors like Techstars and Telosity. She was invited to and participated in the Techstars accelerator (which has a less than 1% acceptance rate), the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center’s Milestone Makers program, and the Headstream program (the youth mental health accelerator supported by Pivotal Ventures). She has been featured in numerous articles and received press for her work with Neolth, including being featured in Forbes alongside the founders of Bumble and Zyper in 2021 as a leading female founder and being honored with a display on the Nasdaq Tower in Times Square in 2020.

Dr. Grill lives in the Bay Area with her husband and co-founder, Lukas Grill, and their two huskies, Kai and Leo. In her free time, Katherine enjoys hiking, swimming, baking, and learning German.

Katherine Grill, PhD
Co-founder and CEO


Dr. Yair Saperstein is a board-certified internal medicine physician affiliated with Mount Sinai Hospital. He is a member of Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) and graduated from Albert Einstein College of Medicine with distinction in research in global health and from Yeshiva College as valedictorian. Previously, Dr. Saperstein co-founded two non-profit organizations, and, and served as the inpatient medicine chief resident at Kings County Hospital. Additionally, Yair is an acclaimed classical concert pianist and recreational ukulele jammer and has won numerous awards, including The Jewish Week’s “36 under 36” most influential Jewish Americans, and was a semifinalist in the Dell Social Innovation Challenge.

Yair Saperstein, MD
Co-founder and CEO


Mihir Shah is a visionary entrepreneur addressing global health disparities by translating scientific discoveries into affordable and scalable med-tech solutions that improve outcomes. For over 15 years, he’s led the commercialization of several medical innovations impacting many lives. He is the Founder and President of UE Lifesciences, a fast-growing multi-national startup making the hope of cancer early detection a reality with the award-winning innovations, iBreastExam and cervAIcal, benefitting over 400,000 women in 10 countries.

A two-time TED speaker, Mihir’s work has been featured in The New York Times, BBC, and other notable publications. As an adjunct faculty member, Mihir teaches Entrepreneurship in Biomedical Engineering at Drexel University.

Mihir Shah
Founder and President


The 2021 Lyfebulb and Loyola University Chicago Innovation Challenge: Meeting Our Moment – Reimagining Innovation, Improving Health Equity, and Building Resiliency will source innovative solutions, technologies, methodologies, and services that address the effects of emerging infectious diseases (such as the COVID-19 pandemic) by improving population and public health, health care delivery, and/or health equity.

The Innovation Challenge is open to applicants from different industries and disciplines. Innovators from underserved communities are encouraged to apply. Solutions may include, but are not limited to, digital technologies, devices, consumer products and solutions, and community programs and services.

The Innovation Challenge will be held during a virtual summit on November 16-17, 2021. Applications are open; the deadline to submit entries is September 17, 2021. Selected finalists will receive an invitation to pitch their innovations to an expert panel of judges consisting of public health experts, community advocates, and healthcare industry leaders. A total of $75,000 will be distributed among no more than three finalists to advance the development of their innovation. The 2021 Innovation Challenge is funded by the generous endowment from Bob and Betty Parkinson, which created Loyola University Chicago’s Parkinson School of Health Sciences and Public Health.

In addition to presenting their social ventures and innovative concepts, finalists will have the opportunity to exchange ideas on how to advance innovation in the areas of population and public health, health care delivery, and health equity, and to engage with Lyfebulb founders, Parkinson School leadership, key opinion leaders, and potential partners and investors.



Through a call-to-action and an invitation to “meet our moment,” the 2021 Innovation Challenge seeks innovative ideas and solutions to address the effects of emerging infectious diseases through advancements in the areas of population and public health, health care delivery, and health equity.

The problem: Over the past several decades, emerging infectious diseases have increased in frequency annually both in the United States and globally. The COVID-19 pandemic is just one example of their devastating impacts on already overburdened health care systems and on the health and well-being of communities across the country and around the world.

The opportunity: COVID-19 and the shortcomings of the U.S. response highlighted the need for more forward-thinking, interdisciplinary, and creative strategies that build resiliency and improve preparedness to better manage pandemics and public health threats. In particular, the pandemic magnified existing social, economic, and racial inequalities and exposed the profound inequities at all levels of the U.S. health system. This Innovation Challenge will help identify barriers to care access, work to understand the underlying causes of health disparities, and advance health equity for all.

We’re reimagining innovation: In response to these challenges and with our vision that multi-sectoral and interdisciplinary cooperation is essential to address them, the Parkinson School, in partnership with Lyfebulb, seeks to reimagine innovation in the population and public health, health care delivery, and health equity space.




Lisa Hehenberger, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Strategy and General Management at ESADE Business School and Director at ESADE Entrepreneurship Institute & Center for Social Impact

John Ponsoll

Managing Director at Symbiotix at Havas Health & You

Ramanathan Raju, MD, MBA, FRCS, FACS, FACHE

Former Senior Vice President and Chief Community Health Investment Officer at Northwell Health New York, Former President and CEO at NYC Health and Hospitals, and Former CEO at Cook County Health System Chicago

Abigail Silva, PhD, MPH

Assistant Professor at the Parkinson School of Health Sciences and Public Health and Director at the Institute of Public Health at Loyola University Chicago

Jeffrey Yang

Chief Technology Officer at Lyfebulb, IT/Digital Product Advisor, and Managing Partner at Yang Consulting

Join the 2021 Innovation Challenge


Lyfebulb and the Parkinson School seek a wide range of solutions that will improve population and public health, health care delivery, and/or health equity in response to emerging infectious diseases such as COVID-19. Applying organizations must be registered in the United States.


    • Address both the immediate and long-term effects of emerging infectious diseases such as COVID-19 by improving population health, public health, health care delivery, and/or health equity
    • Digital technologies, devices, consumer products and solutions, and community programs and services; technology and systems solutions addressing health care delivery are encouraged to apply


    • Communities, particularly underserved populations
    • Health care delivery systems and providers


    • U.S. entities
    • For-profit companies (e.g., C Corp, LLC, etc.)
    • 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations
    • Individuals with registered organizations


Submissions will be evaluated by a panel of subject matter experts selected by Lyfebulb and the Parkinson School.

The judging panel will assess the following:


    • What is the strategic basis for the identified problem/gap or public health challenge (e.g., research conducted)?
    • How is the public health challenge or effect of emerging infectious disease(s) specifically addressed?


    • Does the innovation have the potential to improve population or public health outcomes, health care delivery, and/or health equity?
    • What level of impact will the innovation make?
    • What metrics will the organization use to measure and demonstrate this impact?


    • How is the innovation unique to the market or public health landscape?
    • What is the feasibility of development and implementation into the marketplace or healthcare ecosystem (e.g., funding, regulations, testing requirements, etc.)?




Applications open on Monday, August 2, 2021



Applications close on Friday, September 17, 2021, at 11:59 PM EDT



The virtual 2021 Innovation Challenge will take place November 16-17, 2021



A total of $75,000 will be distributed among no more than three finalists