2023 Health Equity Innovation Challenge Winners

View the Bios of the 2023 Health Equity Innovation Challenge Winners

HEIC Hosts Pitch Day to Select Winners

The Health Equity Innovation Challenge received over 110 applications in its inaugural year! Founders from all of the semi-finalists participated in Pitch Day on Saturday, April 29, 2023, at the Cabarrus Center in downtown Concord, NC.  The five winning companies listed below most broadly addressed the Challenge priorities with solutions that were clearly defined and well articulated. We are grateful for the support of our title sponsor, Atrium Health – North as well as the Cabarrus EDC, the Cabarrus Chamber, and the other participating organizations on the Advisory Board.

>> View the full press release announcing the winners of the 2023 Health Equity Innovation Challenge

CareYaya Health Technologies

Founder, Neal Shah
Durham, North Carolina

CareYaya is solving a structural caregiver shortage, and creating access to affordable home care at a time of high inflation and skyrocketing demand for “aging-in-place” solutions. CareYaya’s unique solution expands the caregiver workforce and improves the affordability of care, advancing health equity, reducing health disparities, and building a scalable social enterprise along the way.

CareYaya has already helped expand this workforce by adding over 2,000 students to caregiving that were previously not there. This could be a massive workforce expansion in elder caregiving, at a time the population is aging rapidly and care needs will skyrocket.

Business Finds Innovative Tech Solution for Home Health Care

Visit the CareYaya Website

CliniSpan Health

Founder, Dezbee McDaniel
Triad, North Carolina

The United States is made up of 40% People of Color (POC), but POC only represent only 2% up to 16% of clinical trial participants! That means that certain groups would:

  1. Take improper dosage amounts
  2. See inadvertent side effects from taking medicines that were not tested on people that are similar to them

This problem is huge as it affects many different under-served groups who suffer from this: women, African Americans, LatinX just to name a few. Companies are spending $8B per year on clinical trial recruitment in order to reach more diverse patients. They are solving this today by sending doctors into communities to share education and information on trials, but those Doctors are not of and from these communities. They are not able to build trust in these communities. There are a couple of reasons companies are motivated to solve this.

  1. The FDA is pressuring companies to have more diverse participants and putting out requirements.
  2. Markets are projected to be more diverse by 2050 so if companies want to serve markets into the future, then they need to be able to make drugs work for all of the different groups.

Visit the CliniSpan Health website.

F.E.L.K. After-School Care

Founder, Lamont Savage
Salisbury, North Carolina

F.E.L.K. After-School Care tackles many of the healthcare disparities that the Health Equity Innovation Challenge seeks to fix. One of the areas that their service will provide is affordable childcare for families. By choosing to receive a state license for their after-school program, they are able to provide under-served communities with quality and affordable child care after school and summer care. F.E.L.K. is able to accept childcare subsidies/vouchers that assist families with paying for their childcare costs.

By teaching lifestyle and kingdom principles, it is their plan that the students will get exposed to new experiences and see the benefits that these experiences foster, and would desire to continue those behaviors while at home and school. Thus, promoting greater mental health among the parents and children.

Visit the F.E.L.K. After-School Care website.


Founder, Kwamane Liddell
Saint Louis, Missouri

Nutrible is a web app that doctors and patients use to deliver medically-tailored meals and groceries from multiple vendors directly to patients at home and health plans pay for the meals. They democratize medically-tailored meals and offer thousands of food and grocery options from more than 70,000 stores nationwide.

While many vendors only deliver from warehouses outside the communities they serve, Nutrible also chooses to partner with restaurants, “corner stores,” and even gas stations located within food deserts. With these partnerships, Nutrible provides the freshest options for patients while they are sick and alleviates the impact of food deserts for entire communities by offering more healthy options for everyone who lives there.

Visit the Nutrible website.

ZABS Place

Founder, Bentzion Groner
Charlotte, North Carolina

Roughly 60,000 adults with disabilities live in Mecklenburg County, and the national employment rate in 2022 for this demographic was just 19.3%. ZABS Place seeks to change that by shifting the paradigm of “employability”. ZABS Place strives to be the destination for young adults with developmental differences interested in having a job but unsure of how to get one. By engaging in this program they will build a platform that showcases the work profiles of each of our Special Talent participants, offering a more suitable resume alternative to recruiters and potential employers.

ZABS Dream Link portal will offer an opportunity for HR professionals to view the individual profiles of any of the ZABS Talent and really experience what it would be like to have them on their team. Their Dream Link portal will be a best-in-class solution for hiring young adults with special talents – opening the door for completely redefining this area and challenging the institutional blocks that currently exist for these extraordinary people.

Visit the ZABS Place website.

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