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Wanted: Your ideas to help those affected by COVID-19

April 01, 2020

“We can help people on the frontline who are saying, ‘I wish someone would just build me this.’”

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A member of the Innovation Lab talks to participants.

Ohio State's Innovation Studio is leading the Coronavirus Challenge, which is encouraging students and faculty to develop solutions for many of the issues that have grown out of the COVID-19 outbreak. Pictured above: Josh Wooten, Innovation Studio shop manager, explains the studio model to participants earlier this year.

You want to help, right? That’s what Buckeyes do — we help.

And many of us are wondering right now what we can do to pay forward during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak while also practicing social distancing to combat the spread of the virus.

One way is to use your mind.

“We need to better utilize each other’s skill sets, to lean on each other in this time of need and uncertainty,” said Tim Raderstorf, chief innovation officer at The Ohio State University College of Nursing. “This is a fortuitous opportunity to help the community.”

A center for innovation

Raderstorf is head of the College of Nursing’s Innovation Studio, which opened three years ago to help Ohio State students, faculty and staff turn their ideas into actions. From tinker projects to commercial projects, the Innovation Studio provides funding and resources to every interprofessional team that pitches an idea.

In response to the current worldwide outbreak, the Innovation Studio is now hosting a “Coronavirus Challenge” to collect ideas that could impact how COVID-19 is changing our world.

You don’t have to present a formal pitch, as normally required by the Innovation Studio. Instead, they just want to hear your ideas and what type of resources you need to get the idea launched.

Ideas can be submitted at through the rest of Ohio State’s spring semester.

Submissions for the Coronavirus Challenge will be reviewed every Monday beginning March 23. If an idea is meets their criteria, the Innovation Studio will provide funding and resources needed to get started.

“We know that the majority of the problems that COVID-19 is going to cause are only going to be felt by a select group of clinicians,” Raderstorf said. “They’re going to be overwhelmed throughout the entire process, and they’ll likely work around all these barriers that are presented to them to help their patients.

“If there’s a way that we can help them extrapolate their ideas and solve them in parallel to them doing our community a great service, then that’s how I feel like we can help. We can help people who are on the frontline who are saying, ‘I wish someone would just build me this.’ We can make that happen now.”

To be eligible for seed funding, ideas submitted for the Coronavirus Challenge must follow the Innovation Studio’s usual requirements: they must be created by a team of two or more Ohio State students, faculty or staff who represent different disciplines or professions.

“The reason we do that is because if you understand how other people would engage with whatever your innovation is, the more successful the implementation will be,” said Raderstorf, an assistant professor of clinical nursing. “We’ll hear ideas from everyone, but we will coach them into a user-centered design or human-centered design platform.”

Discovering solutions

It’s all about interprofessional collaboration to create health care solutions. The Innovation Studio has various prototyping tools — including 3D printers and laser cutters — and can provide strategies and project mentors.

Raderstorf said that even if you don’t have an idea, the Innovation Studio — now operating only on a virtual platform the remainder of the semester — encourages you to share your knowledge and network and partner with a team that needs your expertise and support.

“When you see a problem, you want to solve the problem,” Raderstorf said. “This is what we need to be doing a lot of right now: relying on each other to help out. Let’s incorporate the power of doing and making into an all-hands-on-deck virtual opportunity so that we still have that sense of accomplishment — a feeling that we are contributing in a meaningful way.”