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November 09, 2020

Well City Challenge seeks innovative ideas to improve millennial health

Semifinalists will refine their concepts in a "Shark Tank'-like contest that awards $50,000 in prize money

Adult Health Millennials
Well City Challenge Meredith Edlow/Economy League of Greater Philadelphia

Any Philadelphian with a great idea to explore millennial health is encouraged to enter the Well City Challenge.

Millennials have gained a lot of attention in recent years for the way they influence cultural and economic trends. They are expected to continue to wield that powerful influence for years to come. 

But there are growing concerns about the sheer number of physical and mental health challenges they face. Health experts say they are experiencing more health issues than previous generations. 

To help address them, Independence Blue Cross teamed up with the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia to launch the Well City Challenge, a contest that seeks to identify community-based ideas to improve millennials' health. 

The Well City Challenge is calling for Philadelphia residents to submit innovative ideas that can be developed into pilot programs. Any resident with an idea to explore millennial health in three areas – mind/body, food and nutrition, and community/social connection – is encouraged to enter. 

Applicants chosen to be semifinalists will then be partnered with mentors from within the Economy League's network to refine their concept for a virtual "Shark Tank"-like pitch competition. Over $50,000 in prizes will be awarded.

The pitch competition winners will then enter an accelerator to pilot their ideas and earn more seed money.

"We know that the well-being of an entire generation is at risk," Marcy Rost, executive vice president and chief strategy and communications officer for Independence, said in a statement. "So we are taking action to raise awareness of the threat and engage our partners and community to find solutions."

A 2019 Blue Cross Blue Shield report found millennials had a double-digit increase in the prevalence of 8 out of 10 top health conditions, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes.

Nearly one third of them also have a mental or behavioral health condition, according to a 2020 follow-up report. The most prevalent conditions are major depression, ADHD and substance abuse.

Nick Frontino, managing director of the Economy League, stressed that the competition isn't just for start-ups and techies. Interested applicants have until November 20 to apply online

"During this pandemic, we have seen major disparities in health," Frontino said. "We believe that there is a need and opportunity for ideas as millennials seek more mindful health practices, and ways to counter their social isolation and anxiety due to being in quarantine."

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