Innovation Quarter News

6th Case Competition Forges Student Insight into Health and Business World

Graduate student teams from some of the country’s top universities will gain insight into real-world healthcare problems on March 13-14 at the 6th annual Healthcare Strategy Conference & Case Competition.

The event will be held at Wake Forest Biotech Place.

The lead sponsor for the competition will once again be Boston Scientific, a company that develops medical solutions to health problems in areas such as heart, digestive, pulmonary, vascular, urological, women’s health and chronic pain. Boston Scientific’s president and CEO, Michael Mahoney, will give the keynote address, “Leadership in Medtech Innovation,’’ on March 13 at 4 pm.

Dr. Eric Tomlinson, Chief Innovation Officer of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and President of Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, will moderate a panel discussion immediately following the keynote address. The panel will include Boston Scientific’s Mahoney, as well as:

  • Mark Furth, Executive Director, Product Innovation Services, Wake Forest Innovations
  • Christina Bellinger, Director of Interventional Pulmonology, Wake Forest Baptist Health
  • Jeff Pepperworth, President, Inmar Healthcare Network
  • Jeremy C. Johnson, Managing Director, Bourne Partners

Both the keynote address and panel discuss are open to the public. Register to attend.

Healthcare Industry Connections

Len B. Preslar Jr., executive director of the conference and a former CEO of N.C. Baptist Hospital, has been involved with the case competition from its first year. He says it is a great way for graduate students in business, health, law or other fields to gain practical experience and make connections in the healthcare industry.

The competition pits multidisciplinary graduate student teams from around the nation—Johns Hopkins University teams have won each of the past two competitions—in developing a solution to an issue posed by the lead sponsor. For example, students were asked in a previous competition how a company could enter the urology market in China.

The student teams receive the problem about a week before the competition, and work on it from multiple angles—marketing, scientific, practical—to develop a 20-minute presentation.

Those presentations are given at the weekend competition and judged by a panel of experts from Boston Scientific. The judges immediately follow the presentation with a tough 10-minute review and question session, which Preslar said helps to distinguish the winning teams and elevates the learning process for students.

The competition stakes are high; the winning team gets a $10,000 prize, with second place worth $5,000 and third place, $3,000.

“For students, this is a way to help them interact, listen and learn across disciplinary lines,’’ Preslar says. “They have to understand what other people are talking about, and to value and apply contributions others bring to the process. For the lead sponsor, this is a way to get creative solutions to a real-world business problem.’’

The weekend also exposes students to industry professionals and helps them make connections that in the past have led to jobs in the healthcare industry, he says.

Learning through case competition

Crystal Redfern, one of the event organizers, is a fifth-year PhD/MBA student at Wake Forest School of Medicine who is working on her degree in microbiology. She says for students, the competition helps to reinforce the kind of learning needed in health care today.

“There’s a new generation of scientists who are different than previous generations,’’ says Redfern, who hopes to pursue a career as director of a clinical microbiology laboratory.

“The goal is to create this breed of business individual who can also translate into the science and healthcare industry, and a scientist who can translate into business,’’ Redfern says. “That’s what the competition will bring out.”

Learn more about the weekend at