Second Annual Spark Innovation Competition Focused on the Research Environment Announces Semifinalists

May 1, 2024 by

Spark graphic with light bulbUVA Health is excited to announce the semifinalists of the second annual Spark Innovation Competition. Focused on improving the research environment, this year’s competition created a special union of our three strategic goals by:

  • Fostering a culture of innovation
  • Working as one UVA Health team
  • Strengthening UVA Health’s research enterprise

The Spark Innovation Competition was established in 2022 to leverage the wisdom, energy, and dedication of UVA Health team members.  The competition invites team members across the organization to submit ideas that could bring positive change to the culture of UVA Health. The Spark Competition was borne out of our broader culture transformation and is one of the many initiatives aimed at improving the daily lives of our team members at UVA Health.

319 ideas were received from individuals in over 80 different areas of the health system. Thanks to you, the response to this year’s competition has grown since this program launched several years ago. Together, we are truly leveraging the knowledge, enthusiasm and creativity of our team members to bring positive change to the organization’s culture.

The Spark Project Team, which comprised 16 team members in diverse roles and departments, selected 10 ideas as first-round winners because of their potential to make a positive impact on the research environment. Each individual/team submitting a semi-finalist idea will be awarded $1000 and paired with a coach to further develop their ideas. In June, the results will be presented to the Spark Project Team for the selection of the three finalists selected based on the scope of impact, feasibility of implementation, and long-term sustainability.

Congratulations to the following semi-finalists:

  • Medard Ng, iTHRIV/Dean’s Office | Develop an integrated and holistic marketing strategy for clinical research
  • Johnson Ung, MIC | Promote the recruitment, retention and collective research culture/community for prospective and current postdoctoral fellows across UVA Health
  • Ann Sperling, Medicine/Pulmonology | De-mystify the research environment for new faculty who are primarily research-focused
  • Lynn Dengel, Surgery/Surgical Oncology | Employ scientific editors for research support
  • David Tyus, Infectious Diseases | Implement a web-based sharing platform, TraderHoos, for the research community
  • Devin Roller, MIC | Create designated private spaces throughout research buildings to allow for privacy for team members and students who do not have personal offices
  • Jennifer Phillips, iTHRIV/Dean’s Office | Establish a biannual or quarterly award recognizing the contributions of research staff
  • Karen Fairchild, Pediatrics/Neonatology | Fund a NICU Follow-Up Mobile Clinic to improve getting high-risk infants needed neurodevelopmental care
  • Brant Isakson, CVRC | Provide designated outdoor seating/tables in the MR4/5/6 courtyard to create a healthier, more productive work environment
  • Michelle Bland, Pharmacology | Create a central listserv to be sent weekly announcing upcoming seminars to reduce email clutter and administrative time

Any submissions that were not selected for the final two rounds of the competition are shared with leaders overseeing the area impacted by the idea to help inform local improvement efforts.

Thank you for your ongoing support and stay tuned for progress updates. Please contact Amy Isakson with any questions or feedback.


Filed Under: Research