October 2022 | View Archived Issues

Created by Angelina Clancy


  • A Note from Susan
  • Final Week to Apply to Innovation Program
  • Innovation Blender
  • Thinking Differently - New Workshop Offered
  • Opportunities - Connect, Educate & Fund
  • Clinical Coach Spotlight - Tammy Whitney
  • IP Update
  • Innovation 101


Vice President

of Innovation


A Note from Susan

Susan Ahern - Vice President of Innovation, MaineHealth

We are having a lot of exciting collaboration here at MaineHealth Innovation this month! Kim Harvey hosts our monthly Innovation Blender, where recently Aaron Brown, PhD of MHIR, had an interactive discussion on “Lighting Up Fat to Burn Calories”. The Blender saw a rapid collaboration and ideation around the direction of Dr. Brown’s work and brought together 45+ people from across MaineHealth and the Maine entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem. Meanwhile, we’re excited to share a new Innovation service available to all care team members: the fun and engaging Thinking Differently workshop, recently launched by Elena Brondolo, provides tools and resources to foster a culture of innovation within teams. Finally, I had the opportunity to highlight MaineHealth Innovation as the Mission Moment at the MaineHealth Board of Trustees meeting. The Board was inspired, excited, and supportive. Collaboration is key to innovation. Come join us!


With kind regards,



MaineHealth Innovation Fall 2022 Cohort and Innovation Fund

Applications Due October 1

Innovation Cohort

Run by Elena Brondolo, Manager of Innovation, this program helps MaineHealth care team members advance an early innovative "back of the envelope" idea that addresses an unmet care need.

Learn More + Apply

Innovator Highlight

Will Connelly, RN, used Cohort to learn how to talk to potential users of his innovation and gain ideas and feedback on his design. The work Will completed in Cohort helped set him up for receiving Ignite Funding this past spring which he’s using to conduct further market exploration. Cohort is a great place to start if you have an early idea and aren’t sure where to begin!

Learn More

Innovation Ignite Fund

This program provides an investment of up to $20,000 to help innovators understand their user pain points, pilot an idea, build a prototype, or test an assumption.

Learn More + Apply

Innovator Highlight

Obi Nwanna-Nzewunwa, MD, used Ignite funds to work with the USM MIST Lab, MaineHealth Innovation’s engineering partner, to build a prototype for his innovation. The MIST lab is supporting Obi in developing both the physical prototype of his device and the artificial intelligence algorithm that’s a critical component of his innovation. Obi is developing an all-in-one mobile scan-and-treat device for cervical cancer.

Learn More

Innovation Bonfire Fund

Application Due January 2, 2023 at Noon

The MaineHealth Innovation Bonfire Fund provides an investment of up to $100,000 to support an advanced novel solution where additional external or institutional funding opportunities can be explored from collaborators. Funding may be invested in companies or soon-to-be-companies founded by MaineHealth care team members.  

Learn More + Apply

Innovator Highlight

The CAPE team was awarded Bonfire funding in the inaugural Bonfire funding round last fall. The CAPE team has been using their Bonfire funds to conduct testing and design refinement needed for FDA review, a key step on their commercialization pathway.

Learn More

September Recap by Kim Harvey

The highly interactive Innovation Blender series is back! On September 14, 45+ inquisitive minds around Maine joined this fun event hosted by MaineHealth Innovation and the Roux Institute. Todd Keiller, MBA, and Aaron Brown, PhD from the MaineHealth Institute for Research presented a fireside chat discussing the challenges of bridging the valley of death between engaging in basic research and moving towards a commercial pathway. We thank all who participated!

Save the Date for October's Blender Event!

The Future of Flavor - Reinventing Human-Food Interactions

October 19 at 12:00-12:45 PM

Dr. Nimesha Ranasinghe, an Assistant Professor at the University of Maine and Co-founder of FlaVR Labs Inc., shares his exciting innovations in multisensory media to achieve total sensory immersion in Mixed Reality experiences. Hear how next-generation multisensory technologies will enhance the possibilities of delivering immersive experiences in the Metaverse and beyond. Nimesha will talk about his prior work on simulating taste sensations using electrical and thermal stimulation and will discuss his recent work on simulating flavors by digitally overlaying electric taste, color, and smell as stimuli lays the foundation for a new concept called 'Flavor Interfaces'. Join this interactive brainstorm as Nimesha seeks to address some of his innovation challenges!

Register for the Event


We can all play a role in creating a climate that encourages curiosity and creative thinking, the development of new ideas, and the implementation of novel solutions to transform the way we deliver care!

Elena Brondolo, Manager of Innovation, as part of her doctoral studies at Northeastern University, partnered with the Provider Leadership Development Fellowship team to design a workshop that can help leaders and teams foster innovation and generate new ideas. Now, we're pleased to offer the Thinking Differently workshop to any team interested. The 90-120 minute workshop is designed to help you and your teams learn how to encourage the development and sharing of new ideas!

What You'll Learn

  • What innovation is and why it's important in healthcare.
  • Our unique roles in fostering innovation.
  • 3-5 creative activities that can be used to:

-Create space for idea sharing

-Spot challenge areas

-Generate new ideas

-Prioritize ideas for exploration

How You'll Learn

  • Activities
  • Conversation
  • Brief readings and videos

Contact to learn more.



Brewing Ideas Coffee Corner

1st Tuesdays of the month

October 4 | 8:30-9:30 am 

Join Here

MaineHealth Innovation Open Office Hours

Every other Friday, 12-1 pm

Next sessions: October 7+ October 21 

Register Here

MaineHealth Innovation Blender

October 19 | 12:00-12:45 pm

Register Here

Intellectual Property Information Session

October 12| 7:30-8:00am

 Register Here


Learn + Discover

MaineHealth Innovation Cohort

Application deadline October 1

Apply Here

UMaine Commercialization Training Series: Idea Validation

Register Here

Maine Technical Institute Business Basics

Online class October 6

Register Here

SBDC @ CEI Start-up Checklist Webinar

Online class October 18

Register Here

Interprofessional Innovation in Education

Fall 2022

Register Here



Seed Funding

Maine Venture Fund Startup Challenge

Applications due September 30

Learn more + Register Here

MaineHealth Ignite Fund

Application deadline October 1

Apply Here

MaineHealth Bonfire Fund

Application deadline January 1

Apply Here

Want to learn more about our programs?

Join us for MaineHealth Innovation Office Hours every other Friday from 12:00-1:00pm via Zoom. The next sessions are October 7+21.

Register here


By Angelina Clancy

The MaineHealth Innovation Clinical Coaches help drive the success of MaineHealth Innovation by providing clinical leadership and expertise as innovators work to solve unmet care needs.

Connect with Michelle:


Learn more about the

MaineHealth Innovation

Clinical Coaches


Manager of Clinical Informatics

Stephens Memorial Hospital

"As an organization, we're fortunate to have such a large pool of experts from various backgrounds in work experiences, education, and culture. Our employees often brainstorm the most outstanding solutions to identify problems or create systems of optimization. Now, through MaineHealth Innovation, our team members have a designated place to bring their ideas forward to be discussed, encouraged, and developed. We're just beginning to scratch the surface of the countless innovative ideas that our MaineHealth members have to share, improving patients and community outcomes."

An experienced Clinical Leader, working in the hospital and ambulatory health care settings for over 27 years, Tammy moved to Maine from Louisiana in 2007, when she joined MaineHealth as an RN in the Neonatal ICU/ Continuing Care Nursery at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital. During her time at MMC, she also held a position as a care manager, and more recently, as a clinical informatics specialist. She worked closely with multidisciplinary teams to provide guidance moving projects forward, led formal Epic training classes, served on numerous governance committees, and was a strong advocate for pediatric patients. In 2020, Tammy joined Stephens Memorial Hospital as the Manager of Clinical Informatics. She has been a MaineHealth Innovation Clinical Coach since 2022.

Read more about Tammy


By Todd Keiller

MaineHealth Tech Transfer provides an invention disclosure process, intellectual property filing support, licensing negotiation, and commercialization pathways. The MaineHealth Intellectual Property Policy is a generous benefit to those MaineHealth care team members who have a patentable idea.

  • Maine Health signed a license with Teach Me Rx, a startup from Theresa Roelke, NP, Adult Nurse Practitioner, MMC and MHIR and her Pocket Nodule intellectual property. She has been making presentations at International conferences and is getting incredibly positive feedback and is beginning to take orders.  

  • Also, congratulations to Jim Byrne, PT, DBT, of CHANS home health on the filing of his “Home Health Care Provider Work Station” patent. Jim has been collaborating with the University of Southern Maine MIST lab to build a fully functional prototype that will be used to do customer discovery to insure that the design is satisfying an unmet need in the market.


Read the Article

Play Portal - Bethany Sweet, CCLS

Congrats to Bethany Sweet, CCLS, who was featured in September's Mainebiz featuring innovative startups disrupting the healthcare industry! Her Play Portal innovation was highlighted for the creative way it makes procedures less scary to pediatric patients. Bethany took part in the Innovation Cohort to get her idea cultivated. She was then awarded funds through Innovation Ignite to conduct a pilot study. She hopes to move forward to license her idea and expand her offerings.

Pocket Nodules - Theresa Roelke, NP

Theresa Roelke, NP, recently presented her project at the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) World Conference in Vienna in August and was able to educate clinicians as well as distribute 150 Pocket Nodules to connections around the world. Theresa will continue to work with the IASLC leadership, and expects follow up meetings with providers and distributors to help get this tool into as many hands as possible around the globe. Further updates about this collaboration will be known in the new year.


Theresa is also in talks with colleagues at the VA about the possible pilot of the tool in the Northeast region. 

Read More About Theresa's Innovation


MMC Nurses Achieve Fourth Consecutive ANCC Magnet Recognition®


MMC and its nursing team have achieved the American Nurses Credential Center (ANCC) Magnet Recognition® status for a fourth consecutive time. The Magnet Recognition Program is considered the gold standard for nursing quality, recognizing health care organizations that both demonstrate nursing excellence and disseminate successful nursing practices.

MMC received three Magnet exemplars from the Magnet committee. One of these exemplars was that MMC nurses were recognized for the strength of their work with MaineHealth Innovation, creating multiple projects that have improved patient care at MMC.

Fewer than 10% of hospitals achieve Magnet Recognition. Congratulations MMC nurses!


By Elena Brondolo

Asking Questions to Help Us Develop Ideas

In our previous Innovation 101 section we covered the discovery skills that can help us generate new insights for opportunities and challenge areas. We also reviewed the innovation process as a whole. At this point you may have identified an opportunity area that might benefit from a creative solution.

Now what? One way to identify a possible path forward is to use the Question Burst technique. Created by Hal Gregersen, Question Bursts are a simple technique that can help you open up your mind and generate new ideas and possibilities. They can be done by yourself or with your team!

To conduct a Question Burst, follow these simple steps:

  1. Write down the challenge you have identified. If you are working with a team, spend two minutes providing a little information about the challenge and how you see it.
  2. Spend 4 minutes silently writing down questions related to the challenge. Try to write short, tough question. Don’t provide any answers. Focus only on what questions come to mind.
  3.  If in a team, spend 10 minutes sharing the questions you wrote with each other. It can be helpful to write each question on a post-it note and then stick them on a whiteboard or wall.
  4. Start to categorize or group the questions you have asked. What themes are arising? What new ideas have you generated? What have you learned about the challenge you are exploring?
  5. Pick 2-3 questions or themes to focus on and keep investigating.
  6. Report back to the MaineHealth Innovation team! Let us know how this worked for you! What challenges are you exploring? What questions are you asking?

To learn more, check out this quick video from Hal Gregersen on the Question Burst process.

MaineHealth Innovation is committed to fostering a culture of innovation within MaineHealth and among our community partners by connecting, educating, and funding care team members.

MaineHealth Innovation Center Programs

Innovation Cohort | Innovation Fund | Innovation Blender |

Brewing Ideas Coffee Corner

Help us celebrate innovation!

Together, we are transforming care through innovation. Help us celebrate innovation and create a resource for sharing innovation across MaineHealth by submitting your innovation story!

Submit an Innovation Story

The MaineHealth Innovation Team:

Susan Ahern - Vice President of Innovation

Nic North - Administrative Assistant III

Elena Brondolo, MPH, MBA - Manager of Innovation

Kim Harvey, MSOL - Program Manager, Innovation

Todd Keiller, MBA - Director of Intellectual Property & Tech Transfer

Angelina Clancy - Program Coordinator, Innovation

Let us know how we can help support innovation:


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Our page is located at the bottom of the MaineHealth website.