Innovating for animals
The 2018 Innovation Showdown, launched January 3, invites animal organizations and companies to compete for the chance at an investment of up to $350,000 for innovative ideas to save animal lives and get feedback from the nation's top animal welfare experts, including Best Friends.
Recognizing and rewarding lifesaving innovation has been an area of focus for many of the nation's top animal welfare organizations. The 2018 Innovation Showdown is a collaborative project with a goal to spark lifesaving creativity to help the animal welfare industry reduce the number of animals euthanized in this country.
A lifesaving return on investment
The Innovation Showdown, originally created in 2017 by the Petco Foundation and the Jackson Galaxy Foundation, is modeled after the critically acclaimed Shark Tank for entrepreneurs, but with one major difference. The Innovation Showdown's ultimate goal is not a financial return on investment, but a lifesaving return on investment — that is, to save the lives of more animals in need.
Last year, nearly 200 idea submissions were received and two winners — Animal Care Centers of NYC for their digital shelter concept ($100,000) and Brandywine Valley SPCA for Mama in a Box, a kitten feeding solution ($50,000) — took home the top two honors.
"The Innovation Showdown aspires to encourage ideas that will change the landscape of animal welfare," said Susanne Kogut, Petco Foundation’s executive director. "All of the participating national organizations share the same goal — to end needless euthanasia of animals in this country. By joining forces in this year's showdown, we can make a meaningful impact with a more significant investment pool and feedback from the industry's experts to debate the lifesaving potential of each new idea."
Participating organizations include the ASPCA, Best Friends Animal Society, the Humane Society of the United States, the Jackson Galaxy Project, Maddie's Fund, Michelson Found Animals Foundation, the Petco Foundation and the WaterShed Animal Fund.
"Partnering with the industry's top dogs, and cats, through the Innovation Showdown is a great way for us to support and foster big, positive, transformational change for animals," said Jackson Galaxy, cat expert, author, entrepreneur, founder of the Jackson Galaxy Project and host of My Cat from Hell.
Best Friends’ Julie Castle on judging panel
Innovative ideas to save animal lives are now being accepted online until February 16. Two finalists will be chosen initially and selected additional ideas will compete for the third Wild Card finalist spot. The grand finale will take place on May 16 at the HSUS Animal Care Expo, where the three finalists will make their pitch on stage to the judges.
The contest is open to nonprofit or municipal animal welfare organizations and for-profit companies, provided their idea is to support the mission to save animal lives.
The judging panel of innovation investors includes Matt Bershadker (ASPCA), Julie Castle (Best Friends Animal Society), Jackson Galaxy (the Jackson Galaxy Project), Mary Ippoliti-Smith (Maddie's Fund), Aimee Gilbreath (Michelson Found Animals Foundation), Susanne Kogut (the Petco Foundation) and Christy Counts (WaterShed Animal Fund).
"The Humane Society of the United States is thrilled to host the Innovation Showdown at Animal Care Expo," said Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the HSUS. "Innovation is a critical pathway to helping us solve problems in our field and to strengthen the human-animal bond. As the premiere educational event for animal welfare professionals, Expo is a great venue to showcase big new ideas in our field."
Photo by Lori Fusaro