Hearst Business Media + OpenGrounds Health Innovation Challenge Winners – Continued

Rich Malloch of Hearst Business Media speaking to finalists during the awards ceremony:

Hearst Business Media, in collaboration with OpenGrounds at UVA, challenged students to rethink ways by which people can make better choices about their health through a competition. Here is a look at who the winners are, what school they came from, and how their ideas aim to change the way we perceive health in a modern world:

  • 1st Place TruFood, $15,000

A group composed entirely of third- and fourth-year students from the School of Architecture, TruFood came up with an idea for an app that provides information about food at the point-of-sale. This concept is said to enable awareness among users regarding what they are eating, which in turn leads to healthier and better eating habits. The group came up with the idea based on their frustrating experiences with being able to read nutrition labels, but not being able to translate that information into a consumer-friendly format. They plan to continue forward with the development of the app, in collaboration with a team in Charlottesville and Hearst Business Media.


Team: Kathleen Lavelle, Isabel Preciao and Eneique Cavalier.

  • 2nd Place Sportakus, $7,000

Sportakus is a fitness-based role-playing game that puts the player in charge of the gladiator. In order to encourage users to participate in physical fitness, the game provides players with rewards when they exercise. This is meant to tap into a younger demographic that is interested in playing games while at the same time staying fit and healthy. The team realizes that developing the game would be extremely costly and are trying to find ways around that by partnering with existing gaming developers to incorporate some of the elements found in Sportakus into their games.


Team: Jacob Manley, Benjamin Nowak and Kevin McVey, an interdisciplinary team of fourth-year students.

  • 3rd Place MyPlace, $3,000

Myplace taps into a very powerful metric: group-thinking. The team, made up of four Architecture students, had the idea for an app that provides holistic rankings of the health of a community based on nine different factors. Above that data would be a game layer through which people can “game up” in order to increase how highly ranked their community is ranked amongst others. This promotes staying healthy in a way that is interactive and fun and one that indirectly urges community members to get involved.


Team: Megan Watson, Sydna Mundley, Todd Stovall and Chris Wallace, School of Architecture.

  • Runners-up:

First-year student Mary Kate Skalitsky was recognized for her concept, “Playground Town,” a pedometer-based computer game. Mary was offered a paid summer internship with Hearst after her second year of college, where she plans to take her game, or elements within the game, to market.

Third-year student Katie Bailey was commended for her presentation skills as well as her idea, “The Water Gap,” which would help individuals monitor their water consumption and become more aware of water usage as a global health issue. Katie was also offered a paid summer internships with Hearst and plans to continue to further the development of “The Water Gap” and eventually plans to bring it to market.


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