• Challenge invites North Carolina’s entrepreneurs, community leaders, citizens and university students to submit original solutions to reduce obesity in North Carolinians.
  • Entrepreneurs and students can submit entries March 20 through April 16 at www.HealthInnovationChallengeNC.com.
  • BCBSNC is collaborating with the Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI), Bull City Forward and Queen City Forward to sponsor the challenge.
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) announced today the 2012 Health Innovation Challenge. The challenge, sponsored by BCBSNC and supported by Bull City Forward, Queen City Forward and North Carolina State University’s Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI), invites North Carolina’s entrepreneurs, community leaders, citizens and university students to submit solutions to help reduce obesity across the state and increase the competitiveness of the North Carolina economy. Up to three winners will receive $20,000 and mentoring support to implement their winning idea. In addition, BCBSNC has the option to invest in the winning business idea or company to support them beyond the challenge. 
“This challenge is not only a great opportunity for us to help impact the overall health of North Carolinians and reduce the obesity rate in North Carolina, but it also supports local companies, entrepreneurs and our economy,” said Sean Kerns, BCBSNC vice president of diversified markets. “BCBSNC supports improving the health and wellness of our state, and we are excited to collaborate with Bull City Forward, Queen City Forward and the Institute for Emerging Issues to offer this challenge.”
North Carolina is the 14th most obese state in the nation, and nearly 30 percent of North Carolinians are obese1. This impacts North Carolina’s ability to excel and compete in the global economy. The challenge seeks to improve these statistics by inviting for-profit and not-for-profit operations to submit their ideas at www.HealthInnovationChallengeNC.com. Applicants must have a tie to North Carolina, either living or having operations in the state.
“We are committed to supporting high-impact, high-growth social enterprises in North Carolina,” said Christopher Gergen, Bull City Forward executive director. “The 2012 Health Innovation Challenge will encourage ideas that will positively impact the North Carolina economy, while improving health and reducing the obesity rate in our state.”
Entries will be evaluated by a panel of judges based on their scalability, sustainability, feasibility and ability to improve health metrics. Ideas involving food supplements or special food diets, or projects that require clinical research will not be considered at this time. 
Examples of ideas the challenge is looking for include, but are not limited to:
  • Development of
    • software
    • device
    • application
    • Implementation of a process that can measurably improve BMI rates
    • Improving healthy lifestyles, including increased access to healthy food
“This challenge provides us with the opportunity to move the needle on North Carolina’s heath and other public policy issues, and will have lasting effects on the young people of Generation Z and those who follow,” said Anita Brown-Graham, Institute for Emerging Issues director. “Entrepreneurs play a strong, positive role in ensuring North Carolina’s health and economic competitiveness, and when people work together with a shared vision progress is smarter, more comprehensive and enduring.”
To learn more about the 2012 Health Innovations Challenge or to submit an idea, visit www.HealthInnovationChallengeNC.com. Applications will be accepted until April 16.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is a leader in delivering innovative health care products, services and information to more than 3.6 million members, including approximately 900,000 served on behalf of other Blue Plans. For 78 years, the company has served its customers by offering health insurance at a competitive price and has served the people of North Carolina through support of community organizations, programs and events that promote good health. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina was named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere Institute in 2012. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Visit BCBSNC online at bcbsnc.com.

About Bull City Forward and Queen City Forward:
Bull City Forward and Queen City Forward are community efforts working to dramatically increase the creation, scale, and impact of social enterprises in Durham, NC and Charlotte, NC.  We are guided by the conviction that in purposefully recruiting, enabling, and scaling social enterprises and socially driven entrepreneurs, Durham can create a robust cluster of innovation for the region that will spur economic development, improve the lives of citizens, and produce a new model of urban development.  Thus, the mission is “to enable entrepreneurs to create positive change.” www.bullcityforward.org www.queencityforward.org
About the Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI)
The Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) is dedicated to North Carolina’s future competitiveness. By supporting collaboration among individuals from all sectors and areas of the state, IEI builds an enduring capacity for progress. www.emergingissues.org.
1: F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future, Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2011