Lyfebulb – Veloxis Innovation Challenge: Transforming Organ Transplantation

Cary, North Carolina
October 13 - 14, 2022


July 26, 2022
Applications Open
August 21, 2022
Submission Deadline
September 19, 2022
Finalist Announcement
Oct 13-14, 2022
Innovation Challenge
October 14, 2022
Winner Announcement


Innovation Award

Isabel Portero, MD, holds a PhD in Medicine with a background in the biomedical field.

She is the Founder and CEO of BIOHOPE, a startup dedicated to precision medicine, that promotes that each person receives personalized treatment based on individual physiology.

Before founding Biohope, Isabel acquired extensive experience -more than 15 years- as the Medical and R&D Director for different hospitals, foundations, universities, and biomedical/pharma companies, including big pharma (Merck and Roche) and biotech companies like Cellerix/Tygenics and Genetrix.

As she states, “I am firstly a medical doctor, which has driven everything. I would say that my background was critical because without it, I would have never launched Biohope. I have a 360° view of healthcare. My experience as a physician taught me the medical approach, while the pharmaceuticals industry gave me the marketing perspective. My experience in the biotech sector was important for developing the technology, and the university context clued me in on handling young people, which has also been very important.”

With her medical vocation and entrepreneurial spirit, she decided to run her own biomedical company by joining a multidisciplinary team of professionals, who together aimed to provide solutions to the unsolved medical needs in organ transplantation, a field to which Isabel has dedicated an important part of her career.

“When I worked at Merck Sharp & Dohme, one of the founders said that whenever you focus on the patients and what benefit them, you obtain economic benefits in return. Whenever you look for personal gain and lose that focus, you sink. If you work in the healthcare sector, you have to think about what will benefit the patient at all times. That’s the key to success.”

Dr. Portero began working on developing a test and founded Biohope in 2015. However, she found that creating a test was more challenging than she had anticipated. One challenge was that it proved difficult to grow immune cells in culture; another was scaling up the test while keeping it simple and able to give consistent results.

Despite the obstacles, her works has been recognized widely. Biohope received a grant from the European Commission for over € 3.4M in 2016 and Dr. Portero has received multiple awards over the years, including being listed in Forbes 100 most creative people in business (2018) and being named “Referent Women in Innovative Entrepreneurship” (2021).

She defines herself as a non-conformist and a lover of challenges. The desire to make a social contribution and the ability to identify a need in medicine led her to creating a startup.

Isabel Portero, MD, PhD
Founder & CEO


Impact Award

Chet Alan Bennett aka Chef Bennet; Licensed Cosmetologist; School Owner; Salon Owner; Radio Host; Conference Host; Instructor; Motivational Speaker; Author; Executive Producer; and Founder of a non-profit. These are some of the many titles that Mr. Chet A. Bennett has held over the years while being a successful businessman. He is a proud graduate of Morehouse College with a BA in Religion and a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration and Supervision from Howard University. From holding contracts for the Correctional Corporation of America and the DC Department of Corrections, to coordinating conferences, producing the documentary, “Don’t Put Down the Clippers,” writing the book “My Business is the Beauty Business,” and owning 6 salons, two daycare centers, and a beauty school, Mr. Bennett has achieved great heights in all his endeavors. Although he has held a strong role in the beauty industry for over 29 years, C. Alan Bennett has been cooking and catering since 1992.

It wasn’t until he received a kidney transplant that he decided to spend the rest of his life dedicated to the culinary industry. He created The C. Alan Foundation to not only bring awareness to the kidney disease community, but to educate the community on how to create a healthy lifestyle. Under the foundation, The Kidney Kafe’ with Chef Benne’, and the Kidney Conversations Talk Show was created. C. Alan has become a sought-after caterer at the Bennett Career Institute, The Kidney Kafe Pop-ups; a personal Chef; an inspiring Chef host on a progressive cooking show that airs on The Urban Television Network; his YouTube channel, and his website

He is now partnering with Access Housing Inc., a Southeast DC Veteran’s Service Center catering meals for the homeless, and is set to air his cooking show this spring on DCTV. He also has a book about a healthy eating lifestyle coming out in April “From the Ground to the Gut.” Chef Benne’ started the Kidney Kafe Garden in Washington DC’s most economically challenged community growing spices and sustainable food for the local area. There is much more to come from C. Alan Bennett, as his impact in the culinary community has just begun.

Chet Bennett
Founder and CEO


The Lyfebulb-Veloxis Innovation Challenge will take place in October 2022 at Veloxis’ headquarters and was accepting applications through August 21, 2022. Selected applicants (i.e., finalists) have received an invitation to pitch their ideas and business solutions live to an expert panel of judges comprised of healthcare industry, medical, and patient leaders over the course of a two-day summit.

Prizes will be awarded to two finalists to further grow their companies. The Innovation Award will be presented to a for-profit company and includes $25,000 monetary grant. The Impact Award will be presented to a not-for-profit company and includes $15,000 monetary grant. Competing finalists may be considered by Veloxis for possible partnerships or investment opportunities.

In addition to the pitch competition, finalists will have the opportunity to engage with representatives from the patient community, industry, Lyfebulb, and Veloxis through workshops and learning hubs.


Through Lyfebulb and Veloxis Pharmaceutical’s shared commitment to patients and their loved ones, the Lyfebulb-Veloxis Innovation Challenge is seeking a wide range of solutions to improve lived-experience and outcomes for all those affected by transplant:

    • New treatments, methods and/or procedures
    • Diagnostics and patient monitoring
    • System-wide improvements to care
    • Advancements in health equity
    • Quality of life
    • Patient services

Solutions may any stage of the patient journey from pre-transplant to post-transplant longer-term management. Examples include, but are not limited to: organ supply, rejection, transplant procedures, comorbidities / side effects, patient education, and dialysis.




Shelby Hansen

Transplant Recipient, Patient Ambassador at Lyfebulb, and Health Coach

Howard Kim, MD

Managing Director, Corporate Venture Capital

Mark A. Hardy, MD, PhD (Hon), FACS

Auchincloss Professor of Surgery, Director Emeritus & Founder Transplantation Program

Glenda Roberts

Director, External Relations and Patient Engagement at UW Kidney Research Institute/Center for Dialysis Innovation; Chief Strategy and Operations Officer – Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Center

Greg Lewis

President and Managing Partner at Calcium


Applications were open globally; USA and international companies were encouraged to apply.


    • Drugs / therapeutics
    • Devices / technology
    • Products
    • Services


    • For-profits
    • Not-for-profits
    • Individuals with registered companies


    • Idea stage
    • Early development
    • Mature development


The judging panel will assess the following:


Strategic basis for addressing unmet needs facing patients, care partners, and/or professionals

Demonstrated ability of the innovation to address

these challenges


Potential of the innovation to improve outcomes or lived-experience of people affected by transplant

Degree of market impact and patient impact

Measurability of impact


Uniqueness to the market

Feasibility of development and implementation

Market sustainability




Applications closed on Sunday, August 21, 2022, at 11:59 PM EDT



The Challenge will take place
October 13 – 14, 2022



One entrepreneur will be awarded the Innovation Award, including $25,000



One entrepreneur will be awarded the Impact Award, including $15,000


The 2022 Innovation Challenge is one component of a larger partnership between Lyfebulb and Veloxis Pharmaceuticals, which is built upon a shared commitment to advancing patient-driven innovation in transplantation to attain improved outcomes for patients as well as care partners. The Lyfebulb Innovation Challenge, sponsored by Veloxis Pharmaceuticals, stems from the concept of the Lyfebulb Entrepreneur Circle established in 2015, which features individuals who have created a product and/or a company in response to their personal experiences with a chronic illness (through their own diagnosis or that of a loved one).

Additionally, Veloxis Pharmaceuticals is sponsoring a transplant education series in partnership with Lyfebulb and Columbia University. Information and recordings of webinars from this series can be found on TransplantLyfe, Lyfebulb’s digital platform for transplant patients and care partners, at