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On Tuesday, Secretary Shinseki announced the launch of the 2011 Industry Innovation Competition. This is VAi2’s second competition focused on leveraging the best ideas from the private sector. We’ve got a new web-based process, a new website, five new topics, and up to $100M for innovations that improve access, enhance quality, drive down costs, and increase customer satisfaction among our Veterans. We’re very excited to get started.

In 2011 we’re looking for private companies, entrepreneurs, universities, and non-profits that can:

• Leverage telehealth solutions to provide one of our major healthcare services – audiology – to Veterans
• Create and implement enhancements or novel uses of VA’s “Blue Button” electronic personal health record
• Design innovative prosthetic socket designs to improve the fit and comfort of prosthetics
• Fully automate sterilization of medical equipment
• Empower Veterans with self-management technologies for improved success in re-entering the economy

For more details on the topics, check out our website’s topics page. If you’d like to submit an innovation, we encourage you to view the full solicitation on FedBizOps.

This year we’re taking lessons learned from the 2010 competition and revamping an important part of the selection process. Last year we found that 50-page proposals were overly burdensome on both innovators pitching an idea and VA subject matter experts reviewing the proposals. (We received and reviewed around 15,000 pages of proposal material last year.) This year we broke down the competition into two phases:

• Concept Papers: 8 pages with key information on the proposed innovation, cost estimate, timeline, and needed VA partners.
• Full Proposals: Full 50-page proposal with separate cost and technical sections, performance measures, detailed budgets, timelines and milestones, technical specifications, etc.

Here’s how it works: Our subject matter experts review the concept papers and invite the best of the best to submit full proposals. We hope this process will make it easier for small companies and entrepreneurs to submit their ideas.

The other big change from last year’s competition is the Virtual Innovation Portal, which is the result of our partnership with the VA Virtual Office of Acquisition (VOA). V.I.P. is an online tool that submitters register with and use to upload their proposals. This will make it much easier for innovators to send in their proposals and track their progress through the review process. It will also simplify the process for our VA reviewers, making their decisions more timely and actionable.

We’ve been hard at work the past few months developing these topics, lining up reviewers, and building these new processes and tools. The next part is up to you. Bring us your best ideas to help VA serve our Nation’s Veterans better everyday. Proposals are due April 15th. We can’t wait to see what you’ll come up with.

Jonah Czerwinski was Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and served as Director of the VA Innovation Initiative at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

*Note: VAi2 has been superseded by the VA Center for Innovation (VACI). Links in this post have been updated to reflect that change.

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Published on Feb. 16, 2011

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  1. Al Pike, CP April 2, 2011 at 9:30 am

    As a prosthetist for 46 years I can say research on new prosthetic socket designs is long overdue, and I applaud Secretary Shinseki for his focus on this area of prosthetics.

    This is a direct quote from my testimony to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs a few years back.

    “Today we see in the news media – brought about by the coverage given to amputees from Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom – new high tech components for prostheses. An essential component to the success of this new technology is the man/machine interface that is called the socket. Although there have been numerous variations on socket design over the intervening half century, there have been no significant biomechanical studies of this integral portion of the prosthesis since research done at University of California Los Angeles in the 1950s. Any variations on basic designs have primarily come from the work of independent clinical prosthetists in private practices.”

  2. Charles Cauthen February 26, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    I have an innovated idea for you. Put on your site how many Viet Nam veterans you’ve killed or let die since 1974 from Agent Orange Exposure, how many you’ve denied treatment and compensation. You could update it daily and show your achievments.

    Charles T. Cauthen
    173rd Airborne
    1950-2011, cause of death, Agent Orange

  3. Jeff Brown February 22, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    DAMPS Technology SmartBoots lightens a soldiers load. @CENTCOM @USArmy @USMC @USNavy @USAF USA/World

  4. April McLeod February 17, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    I think the most important change you can make to the Blue Button information is to add “outside, fee-based” appointments to the list of appointments. Also, these outside clinics the VA is working with need training to work within the VA perimeters – I am having trouble getting two clinics to understand that my prescriptions need to go to the VA pharmacy as well as other miscommunication.

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