RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif.—VSP Vision, a health-centric vision care company, and MATTER, a health care incubator and innovation hub, have announced the launch of the first VSP Vision Innovation Challenge, a global competition that seeks to explore solutions to enhance the patient experience in eyecare. As many as five start-ups will be selected to advance their solutions with key industry stakeholders and pitch their innovations for the chance to win up to $10,000, according to an announcement from VSP Vision.

The competition is co-hosted by MATTER and the VSP Vision Global Innovation Center (GIC), the hub where VSP Vision explores new ways eyecare and eyewear are delivered to the world through emerging technologies, new business exploration and strategic connections within the innovation ecosystem. The competition is open to all persons in any industry, according to a VSP spokesperson.

While 8 in 10 people (84 percent) rate vision as the most important sense—and nearly everyone (97 percent) agrees that having healthy eyes is important—only half schedule an annual eye exam, according to VSP. Chronic vision conditions are also on the rise. In 2022, more than eight million Americans reported a vision disability, a 28 percent increase since 2010, USA Facts reported. Experts anticipate that common eye diseases, like glaucoma, will be twice as high in 2050 compared to 2010.

As the inevitable need for vision care accelerates, so does the demand from patients for improved technology, interactions and experiences with the health care system. In fact, research from the VSP Global Innovation Center pinpoints the exact ways consumers and patients are expecting companies and providers to uplevel their offerings as it relates to health and wellness.

“The eye is a window into overall health and wellness, providing patients with data points beyond a prescription,” said Ruth Yomtoubian, senior director of the VSP Vision Global Innovation Center. “Our role is to encourage innovators to direct their talents and technologies toward vision care, a critical touchpoint in the health care continuum. That’s why we’re seeking solutions that can increase access to care, enable patients to proactively manage their eye health and aid optometrists in providing elevated patient experiences."

Toward this goal, VSP Vision and MATTER are calling on innovators to submit their solutions that address one or more tracks for enhancing patients’ eyecare experience: Empowering Patients, Scaling Access or Elevating Care. Up to five finalists will be selected from the candidate pool to receive expert mentorship and exclusive resources to build their solutions and refine their value propositions, as well as pitch their solutions at a final showcase in August 2024 for the chance to win up to $10,000.

“The integration of new technologies can help further improve the quality of vision care which will be especially needed as the population of patients who need care grows,” said Steven Collens, CEO of MATTER. “We’ve partnered with VSP Vision to accelerate the development of the leading start-ups who can help the eyecare industry further empower patients, support providers and enhance accessibility.”

For more information and to apply, visit the VSP Vision Innovation Challenge website.