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The Center for Health Innovation of UNC Health and the UNC School of Medicine is pleased to announce the Innovation Pilot Awards for 2021. All UNC SOM and HCS employees from any owned affiliate are eligible to apply. Applications are due Tuesday, January 19, 2021 at 5:00 PM and as many as four (4) awards of up to $50,000 each will be announced in March 2021.

The Center for Health Innovation initiates, evaluates, and supports the adoption of disruptive patient-centered innovations in the delivery and financing of health care that align with the quadruple aim. These innovations create a new value proposition for the customer, such as greater simplicity, convenience, and quality at a lower cost. The Center is interested in proposals of novel and innovative approaches to be piloted within the UNC Health system across a broad spectrum of interest areas, including:

  • Innovative care delivery models and pathways (e.g., population health management, coordination of care, integration of care, novel patient engagement approaches)
  • Novel approaches to improve health equity / reduce health disparities
  • New technologies and new applications for existing technologies (e.g., software applications, mobile devices, wearables, clinical devices, decision support)
  • Advanced analytics (e.g., clinical risk assessment, event prediction and detection, health outcomes analysis)
  • Business model innovations (e.g., financial incentives, new reimbursement models, changes to cost structure)
  • Alternative staffing and new workforce development
  • Translational research

Questions can be sent to

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Can medical students apply for the Innovation Pilot Award?

A. Medical students can participate as members of a pilot team but the application must be submitted with a health system employee or faculty member as the Principal Investigator or project leader.

Q. Can an Innovation Pilot Award fund a project at a managed UNC Health entity?

A. Each case will need to be reviewed independently to ensure that receipt of the pilot award would not violate any laws or contractual obligations.

Q. Can the Innovation Pilot Award be used to fund a study or project already in process?

A. Generally not. However, if there is a discreet and separate scope of work with independent aims that can easily be distinguished from the existing project, it may be considered. In this case it is important to clearly articulate the scope of the existing project vs. the pilot in the application.

Q. Can a team re-submit a proposal that was not selected for funding during a previous cycle?

A. Yes, absolutely. However, each team is encouraged to review the summary of raters’ comments and consider revising the proposal as necessary.

Q. Can Innovation Pilot Award funds be used to pay a vendor outside of the university for services? (e.g., software development, training, etc.)

A. Yes, pilot award funds can be used to pay an outside vendor for services rendered within the scope of the pilot. We strongly encourage teams to get an estimate or quote for any third-party services before submitting the application.

Q. What makes a great proposal?

A. Successful proposals contain all of the requirements listed in the “Proposal Requirements” section and demonstrate that the pilot project applies to all or most of the criteria outlined in the “Review and Selection Process” section of the RFP. An example of the narrative section of a past winning proposal is available for your reference. Also, applicants are welcome to meet with Center staff to review proposal ideas in advance of submission for general guidance and feedback (email Please note the Center for Health Innovation staff do not participate in the scoring of applications and meeting with the Center prior to submission does not factor into the scoring or ranking of proposals.

Q. How else can someone work with the UNC Center for Health Innovation outside of participating in the Innovation Pilot Awards?

A. The Center’s mission is to initiate, evaluate, disseminate and support adoption of disruptive innovations in the delivery and financing of health care that are patient centered and increase value with improved health outcomes and lower costs. We are always looking to connect with colleagues and collaborate with partners in new and exciting ways. Feel free to submit an inquiry to at any time.

Q:  What other funding opportunities for innovative health care ideas are available at UNC?

A:  In addition to the Center for Health Innovation’s Innovation Pilot Awards, there are variety of other awards and programs focused on supporting innovation throughout UNC Health Care, including: