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UNF presents 2022 MedNexus Innovation Challenge for Palm Coast area high school students

The University of North Florida, in partnership with the City of Palm Coast and Flagler Schools, has opened applications for the 2022 MedNexus Innovation Challenge. The challenge is a team-based entrepreneurship competition that will showcase regional high school students selected to pitch their solutions to address sleep deprivation in teenagers. The Innovation Challenge is open to all Flagler, St. Johns, Volusia and surrounding county high school students.

Students will have the opportunity to win cash prizes and will receive coaching by subject matter experts. Students selected to participate in the pitch competition will each receive a FitBit to measure the impact of their proposed solutions. Teams should be made up of two to five students. First and second place winners will be selected by a panel of judges. This year’s Innovation Challenge also includes an Audience Choice Award.

“We are pleased to build on the success of last year’s MedNexus Innovation Challenge, said Dr. David M. Szymanski, CEO and executive director of UNF MedNexus. “We were so inspired by the talented students who presented their ideas for improvements in telemedicine, mental health services and soft skills in healthcare. I’m looking forward to seeing what the students develop for better sleep.”

Insufficient sleep has become a widespread issue, particularly in high school students. Recent statistics from the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that 72.7% of high school students get less than the recommended 8 to 10 hours of sleep needed for their age group. Sleep deprivation increases the likelihood that teens will suffer a multitude of negative repercussions such as trouble concentrating, declined grades, drowsy-driving incidents, anxiety, depression and thoughts of suicide.

The MedNexus Innovation Challenge is ideal for any aspiring student considering a healthcare, technology, or entrepreneurship career path. Participating students will develop leadership, teamwork and communication skills while receiving personalized coaching from their team’s assigned UNF faculty member and other business professionals.

“We’re excited that the City of Palm Coast is able to partner alongside UNF and Flagler Schools to offer this incredible opportunity to local high school students,” Palm Coast Mayor David Alfin said. “The importance of the MedNexus concept centers on providing education and career opportunities right here in our city. This Innovation Challenge plays right into the goal of getting young adults interested and engaged in the medical and technology fields right here in our community.”

Applications are open through Sunday, Oct. 2. Decisions of the participating teams will be released by Friday, Oct. 7. The pitch competition will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 9, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Palm Coast City Hall. More information on the MedNexus Innovation Challenge and the application can be found at