MedNexus Innovation Challenge offers students chance to shine

Entrepreneurs come in all shapes, sizes––and ages. High school students in Flagler, St. Johns and Volusia counties have a chance to showcase their ideas with the MedNexus Innovation Challenge in September.

The competition, presented by the University of North Florida (UNF) along with the city of Palm Coast and Flagler Schools, is open to high school students in the three counties and is an opportunity for the students to pitch their solutions to Florida’s evolving healthcare needs.

UNF’s MedNexus is designed to be the nation’s first comprehensive, university-based medical and healthcare nexus, partnering with local medical centers and connecting healthcare providers with university students, faculty and researchers. The project will be located in Palm Coast’s Town Center area and is anticipated to become a hub of collaboration for area hospitals, medical schools, rehabilitation centers and technology companies, as well as for local universities, colleges and high schools.

According to a UNF media release, “New, innovative services and technology-focused solutions are needed to meet the demands of Florida’s growing healthcare systems and to help underserved healthcare areas. The MedNexus Challenge is a competition that encourages high school students to participate in designing ideas for the future of healthcare through purpose-driven education and to apply innovation, science and technology to solve real state/local healthcare challenges.”

Open to students ages 16-18, the competition will have teams of two to five students focusing on three main health areas: advancing telemedicine, improving mental health services for young adults and enhancing soft skills in healthcare.

“The competition is ideal for any aspiring student considering a healthcare or technology career path as participants will develop leadership, teamwork and communications skills,” according to the release.

Teams will receive personalized coaching from a UNF faculty member as well as other healthcare and business professionals.

“We’re excited that the city of Palm Coast is able to partner alongside UNF and Flagler Schools to offer this incredible opportunity to local high school students,” said Palm Coast Mayor David Alfin, in the release. “The importance of the MedNexus concept centers on providing education and career opportunities right here in our city. This Innovation Challenge plays right into the goal of getting young adults interested and engaged in the medical and technology fields right here in our community.”

Students interested in participating are encouraged to put together a team and research the three challenge areas. Applications are open through Sept. 19. More information is available at https://www.unf.edu/coggin/CEI/Mednexus_Innovation_Challenge.aspx.

“This is an amazing opportunity for our students and just the beginning of the impact UNF and the MedNexus concept will have locally,” said Cathy Mittelstadt, Flagler Schools superintendent. “I look forward to seeing the innovative solutions our students will propose during this challenge.”

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