The City University of New York’s CUNY Startups program has joined forces with Firefly Innovations of the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy (CUNY SPH) to help address challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Public Health Innovation Accelerator helps entrepreneurs, CUNY students, faculty, staff, and the broader NYC community generate and scale ventures to create community well-being, with sustainable environmental, social and economic impact across multiple United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Through a free, online, ten-week venture-building program, the Accelerator aims to source and foster novel solutions to the current public health crisis and other challenges that are being exacerbated by it, including – but not limited to – rapid and lower-cost testing technologies, personal protective equipment design, improved surveillance systems, supply chain innovations that address well-being (e.g., food, healthcare supply, etc.), mental and social health or integrated health solutions.
The Accelerator will work with six teams to validate their ventures, test their prototypes in the marketplace, and launch their startups. Startups from any sector are encouraged to apply, and can be non-profit, for-profit, or hybrid ventures. There is no equity requirement.
The program begins June 3, 2020. Applications are now open and the deadline to apply is May 4, 2020.
“With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, public health is in the spotlight today more than ever,” says Dr. Terry T-K Huang, founder of Firefly Innovations at CUNY SPH. “Ironically, the crisis has laid bare what disinvestment in public health looks like, but this is also an opportunity for us to innovate and prepare better for the future. This is why we are excited to launch our first summer accelerator program focused on the pandemic. We hope to learn about ideas that will help solve challenges not only about COVID-19 itself but also serious challenges in the public health system and other health issues – including behavioral, social and mental health problems – that might result from policy interventions to address the crisis and the economic impact that follows.”
“Entrepreneurship in the age of COVID-19 is fundamentally different,” says Remy Arteaga, executive director of CUNY Startups. “Just about every aspect of a new venture has changed from fundraising to marketing to operations. The problems we thought were big in December 2019 seem relatively small in the bright lights of COVID-19, where we are concerned with life and death. Dr. Anthony Fauci has replaced all tech CEOs combined as America’s hero. The CUNY Public Health Innovation Accelerator is a response to the changing times and changing priorities and is one piece of the tapestry of solutions to our public health and climate challenges.”
Firefly Innovations is a public health entrepreneurship platform in the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy with a mission to foster social innovation in service of healthy communities.
CUNY Startups provides central entrepreneurship resources aimed to dramatically improve the economic mobility of CUNY students through entrepreneurship while stimulating business growth and economic development in New York City.
The CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy is committed to teaching, research and service that creates a healthier New York City and helps promote equitable, efficient and evidence-based solutions to pressing health problems facing cities around the world.