1. Inspire innovation in ophthalmology by ophthalmologists
  2. Develop ecosystem that supports innovation in ophthalmology
  3. Provide knowledge and tools that help ophthalmologists transform “ideas” into solutions for ophthalmology problems that need fixing
  4. Connect early stage ophthalmologist innovators with early stage investors to accelerate development of solutions to important problems


  • $25,000 cash prize for first place, $15,000 cash prize for second place, and $5,000 for third place to defray development costs—no strings attached!
  • Opportunity for finalists to present concept to panel of potential investors including angel, incubator, strategic partner, and venture investors
  • Direct feedback on your concept and business model from innovation experts and investors—available to all applicants

Ideal Candidate

  • Ophthalmologist with early stage concept for how to solve a significant ophthalmology problem
  • Very early stage ophthalmologist innovator interested in access to:
    • Feedback and advice from early stage investors and successful innovators in ophthalmology
    • Opportunity to win $25,000 first place cash prize, $15,000 second place cash prize, or $5,000 third place cash prize—no strings attached!
  • Has submitted at least a provisional application for patent by the time of the Winning Pitch Challenge Round 1 deadline—to permit uninhibited public pitch (not mandatory)
  • Product is generating little or no revenue

Judging Criteria

  1. Magnitude of problem
  2. Innovativeness of the proposed solution
  3. Market size, strategy, and potential reimbursement
  4. Competitive analysis
  5. Business model, including capital requirements
  6. Intellectual property
  7. The team
  8. Clarity of request for investment

The Pitch

  • 5-8 min pitch
  • 7-10 minutes of moderated Q&A with panel of judges


  1. Judges score finalists
  2. Scores are averaged to identify first, second, and third place
  3. Judges comment on whether they would be interested in additional discussions with a particular finalist, at sometime down the road, regarding potential equity investment

Mentor Program – Experts. Insights. Guidance.

  • Winning Pitch Challenge mentors are successful entrepreneurs, investors, executives, and others who volunteer their expertise to help innovators succeed
  • All Round 2 contestants are eligible to be matched with an expert mentor – while supplies last
  • Eligible Round 1 submissions are advanced to Round 2 on a rolling basis (i.e. as they are received) and are immediately paired with expert mentors on a “first-come, first-served” basis, so send in your Round 1 submission as soon as possible!
  • Mentors are responsible for commenting on their team’s business plan and highlighting issues that may arise in the pitches during the competition
  • Mentors provide feedback on team pitches and Power Point presentations
  • Minimum Mentor time commitment is up to 1.5 hours, usually in 30-minute phone call increments
  • Mentoring takes place by phone, email and other means
  • Mentors are matched to participants based on mentor preferences and the participants’ needs


John Pollack, MD
C 630-544-7034 or jpollack9@gmail.com

Vance Thompson, MD
C 605-359-4070 or vance.thompson@vancethompsonvision.com

David Williams, MD MBA
C 612-382-8535 or dfws2@mac.com