October 10, 2011 5:45 AM
A venture to create a holistic clinic for mental and physical health care took top prize on Thursday (Oct. 6) at PitchNOLA 2011, an “elevator-pitch” competition for ideas designed to spur social change in New Orleans.
The idea for “The Well: An Integrative Medical Practice” aims to create a comprehensive clinic that integrates treatment for addiction, depression and other behavioral issues with treatments for common health issues endemic in South Louisiana, such as heart disease, chronic pain and diabetes.
The venture, backed by Dr. Arwen Podesta and registered nurse Sarah Mason, won $3,500 plus executive mentorship, consulting and pro-bono technical assistance from Social Entrepreneurs of New Orleans (SENO), the Trumpet agency and Baker Donelson law firm.
The $500 “audience favorite” winner was AMPS, a venture that designs sustainable, environmentally friendly food production systems that are easy to ship, set up and operate.
PitchNOLA gives local social entrepreneurs the chance to pitch ideas for social change to a panel of celebrity judges and an audience of more than 200 students, business professionals, social activists and community members. The contest is sponsored by SENO, Tulane Social Entrepreneurship Initiatives and the A. B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane.
“We saw some great ideas this year,” said Stephanie Barksdale, manager of Social Entrepreneurship Initiatives at Tulane. “It’s inspiring to see how much potential there is in New Orleans right now for social innovation.”
The event included a separate contest — Green the ’Gras, hosted by LifeCity — for ideas to make New Orleans’ biggest annual event less taxing on the environment. Each year, 25 million pounds of Mardi Gras beads arrive in the area and less than 2 percent are recycled. The winning venture, Beadcycle, will allow people to recycle beads in exchange for tokens for discounts to restaurants and free bathrooms in the area.
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