Innovation Next Awards Winners Selected

How We Chose the 2016 Awards Finalists

In March of 2016 we selected 10 finalists for the 2016 edition of the Innovation Next Awards. Those 10 teams participated in three workshops over the next five months, learning about design thinking from IDEO. This included an empathetic approach to field research, synthesizing information, and prototyping. In addition to the workshops, the teams went into the field to research their target audiences and work on prototypes of their innovations. At the end of the process in August, five of the 10 teams received further funding to bring their projects to a minimal viable product (MVP), or testable form.

The Selection Process

We received 127 complete applications during the call that ran from December 15, 2015 to January 31, 2016. To review the applications we recruited 38 judges in three categories:

  1. Staff at The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy;
  2. External experts in sexual and reproductive health and experts in design thinking;
  3. Young people aged 14 to 24 from the Campaign's Youth Leadership Team and College Ambassador Program.

Each application was reviewed by one judge in each category and scored on a scale of 0 - 100. Applications were scored on three criteria: the team, the project idea, and the perspective on design thinking and the team's potential for impact. Here's a bit more on each:

The Team (50 points)
We're looking to fund amazing teams that have a diverse range of talents and a passion for using innovation to solve problems, specifically to address teen pregnancy and adolescent sexual health. Our ideal team is comprised of three individuals who can effectively engage the target audience and identify new solutions to teen pregnancy.

The Project Idea (25 points)
We're looking for innovators who have identified a challenge that they can solve and that will have an impact on current efforts to address teen pregnancy. It might be that they will work with an underserved population; will tackle a universal challenge that can impact providers and/or youth across the country; or it might be something in the middle. Either way, the team has articulated their challenge and it is an important one to address.

Perspective on Design Thinking and the Team's Potential for Impact (25 points)
We're looking for teams that are excited about the possibility of using design thinking to tackle the challenge they've identified and are in a position to help diffuse information about this process to other influencers in the field. 

The Results of the Scoring

We decided to add a semi-final round to give us an opportunity to meet more teams and to understand their potential on the criteria above through Skype video meetings. We also decided that the very top scorers would be sent directly into the final round. It took a score of 91 or better to get into the semi-final round and a score of 96 or better to move directly into the finals. A total of 21 teams scored better than 91 and four teams qualified for the finals directly. That left 17 very good teams competing for six spots—not to mention the many good teams that missed the cut altogether.

It was a very difficult decision-making process to select the final six spots. In the end, we relied heavily on the original decisions of the judges along with our desire for a diverse group of people (geography and backgrounds), a wide range of target audiences, and a variety of project ideas. For example, if we had three projects in the semi-finals that were proposing game development for teens, we would likely have selected only one of those projects to make space for other ideas and target audiences.

The Finalists

The complete list of winners is:

  • The It Kit created by Margot Mausner, Maggie Gaudsen, and Julian Gindi
  • Love Life Rules created by Cindy Carraway-Wilson, Sixto M. Cancel, and Somiah Lattimore
  • Don’t Make It Weird created by Susan E. Williams, Becky Reitzes, and Annie Hoopes
  • Boink created by Francisco Ramirez, Will Luxion, Elise Schuster (on maternity leave), and Amelia Halstrom (substitute during Elise’s leave)
  • Juntos created by Helen (Hua) Wang, Hector Ceballos, and Laura Davis
  • VizClinic created by Bhupendra Sheoran, Alex Medina, and Vianey Twyford
  • MySexEd created by Liz Chen, Vichi Jagannathan, and Cristina Leos
  • An Instant Gratification Situation created by Liz Romer, Lauren Butts, and Stephanie Begun
  • Hablemos created by Julie Yegen, Eliana Loveluck, and Laura Lourenco
  • Starting the Conversation created by Breione St. Claire, Dannelle Pietersz, and Amber Eisenmann

For more details on the projects teams and their ideas, please see this page.