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2020 Pennovation Accelerator Names Two Winners: Headway and SOLUtion Medical

On Thursday, July 16th, the Pennovation Accelerator held their virtual Pitch Day, the culminating event for the six-week program focused on the makings of a strong pitch. In case you missed it, you can find a recording of the event here

Each of the ten cohort companies gave an impressive 5-minute pitch to a virtual audience of over 80 people, followed by questions from a panel of judges: 

  • Dr. Brandi Baldwin, Founder and CEO of Millennial Ventures Holdings
  • Holly Flanagan, Managing Director at Gabriel Investments
  • Rick Genzer, Investment Director at Ben Franklin Technology Partners

At the conclusion of the ten pitches, the judges and the Pennovation Accelerator review committee deliberated to award two winners:

  • Headway is the overall 2020 Pennovation Accelerator Winner, based on engagement in the program, growth over the six weeks, and their final pitch. Headway takes home the $5,000 cash prize, along with 6 months of membership and an accounting startup package sponsored by PCI Ventures’ partner, Stephano Slack.

    Headway is improving surgical team communication in Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS) with a hands-free pointer device for surgical monitors in the OR. Julia Lin, Co-Founder & CEO, gave their pitch. She is joined by co-founders Laura Ceccacci, Jonah Arnheim, and Alex Qian Wan. All four are 2020 graduates of the University of Pennsylvania’s Integrated Product Design masters program. 

  • SOLUtion Medical won Best Pitch of the day! This includes 6 months of membership to the Pennovation Center, and the Stephano Slack accounting startup package

    SOLUtion Medical is developing more patient-friendly delivery systems for reconstitutable drugs. Julia Anthony, Founder & CEO, delivered their pitch alongside, Jonathan Kiel, Co-Founder & CSO. 


Leading up to Pitch Day, the cohort participated in six weeks of programming focused on the elements of a great pitch. Here is a quick look at each week's programming topics:

Week 1: Market Assessment
Week 2: Business Model
Week 3: Building a Team
Week 4: Branding & Storytelling
Week 5: The Ask
Week 6: Pitching

With weekly workshops led by subject matter experts on Monday mornings, optional office hours on Wednesdays, and pitch practice and networking opportunities on Thursday afternoons, the teams all made great strides in a short time refining their go-to-market strategies and elevator pitches. 

The cohort learned from a variety of speakers and mentors across the Pennovation network, including:

  • Scott Fishman, CEO of Envisage and angel investor with Robin Hood Ventures, on target market and competitive landscape
  • Adam Dakin, Managing Director of HealthTech at Dreamit Ventures and PCI Ventures’ mentor-in-residence, on business model
  • Tommy White, Interim Director at the American University Center for Innovation (AUCI), on financial forecasting
  • Bruce Marable, CEO and co-founder of Employee Cycle, on building a team and network of advisors
  • PCI Ventures partner, whitepenny, on digital branding & storytelling
  • Dean Miller, President & CEO of PACT, on formulating a strong ask, and
  • Alyssa Dver, CEO of the American Confidence Institute, on scientifically crafting an investment-confident pitch

The cohort received pitch feedback from the PCI Ventures and 1776 teams, Anne Shehab, Managing Director of Golden Seeds, Brett Topche, Managing Director of Red & Blue Ventures, and Manny Stockman of Osage University Partners.

For a full list of mentors and speakers who supported the program, check out our Pitch Day program! We are tremendously grateful for everyone involved, very proud of the cohort’s progress,, and cannot wait to continue to support the growth of these ten companies. 


The Headway team in the operating room: (front left to right) Alex Qian Wan, Laura Ceccacci, Jonah Arnheim, Julia Lin [pre-pandemic photo]


Julia Anthony, CEO & Founder of SOLUtion Medical, shares their delivery system for reconstitutable drugs.


Adam Dakin presents on business model during the second week of the program.


Bruce Marable leads a discussion on building a team and advisor network during week three.


One week before Pitch Day, Manny Stockman provides feedback on the companies’ pitches.

Below, CEO and Co-founder Julia Lin pitches for her company Headway, showing their hands-free pointer device for surgical monitors in the OR.

screenshot of Headway's pitch with a small photo of Julia Lin in the corner and a rendering of their product in the OR