MedNexus Innovation Challenge Opens for Students in Flagler, St. Johns and Volusia

MedNexus Innovation Challenge Opens for Students in Flagler, St. Johns and Volusia

The University of North Florida, in partnership with the city of Palm Coast and Flagler Schools, is sponsoring the 2024 MedNexus Innovation Challenge, according to a media release. The Challenge is a team-based competition that will showcase regional high school students selected to pitch their solutions to address social media addiction in teenagers. The Innovation Challenge is open to all Flagler, St. Johns, Volusia, and surrounding county high school students.

Students can win cash prizes and will receive coaching by subject matter experts. Teams should be made up of four students. First and second-place winners will be selected by a panel of judges and  first-place team will be awarded a $1,000 scholarship for each team member. The second-place team will receive $750 for each team member, the release states.

“We are so excited to see what sort of solutions, particularly health intervention or programs, these talented students develop to help with social media addiction,” said Dr. Julie Merten, associate dean of UNF MedNexus, in the release. “Our hope is to provide additional support to actually implement the winning intervention in partnership with Flagler Schools and the city of Palm Coast. How wonderful it will be to watch the winning idea come to life in the students’ community.”

According to the release, social media use is prevalent among high school students, with 84% of teens using social media and 62% using it every day. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that teens who use social media more than three hours per day are at an increased risk for mental health issues.

The MedNexus Innovation Challenge is also an opportunity for students considering a health, biomedical, technology or entrepreneurship career. Participating students will develop leadership, teamwork, and communication skills while receiving personalized coaching from their team’s assigned UNF faculty member, according to the release.

“We’re excited that this incredible opportunity for local high school students is returning for the third year in a row,” said Palm Coast Mayor David Alfin, in the release. “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.”

The pitch competition will be held on April 11, at the Palm Coast Community Center, 305 Palm Coast Pkwy NE.