A new addition to our DiabetesMine Design Challenge Judges' Panel this year is John Steuart, Managing Director of Claremont Creek Ventures, a venture capital firm that invests in early stage information technology companies. John himself has spent the last 20 years building and investing in technology and life science companies, so you might say he knows his stuff.

Today, we spend a few minutes 'picking this VC's brain' on mobile health solutions and other innovations that could potentially change the world:

DBMine) As an expert in technology and life sciences, what do you see as the hottest innovations in health right now and why?

JS) Innovations stemming out of sequencing of the human genome which leads to more personalized approaches to health care is one of the very hot areas of innovation right now.  Everything from specialized genomic or molecular diagnostic testing to determine better therapy selection or disease susceptibility to targeted treatments show great promise.

What do you think stands out at the moment in terms of diabetes in particular?

The search for longer-term implantable glucose management systems is an area of great investment and excitement.

Programs to promote healthy lifestyles and reduce risk factors for type 2 diabetes is another area with true potential.

What about new mobile health solutions — embedding health programs in cell phones, etc.? How do you determine which apps have a real future?

Mobile health tools represent an opportunity to move technology closer to the patient.  The key issue for a venture investor will be applications which can scale into a mass offering from a large company.

What's a good example of a truly disruptive technology you've worked on, backed by a solid business plan?

Tibion Corporation with an external robotic power knee brace to make stroke patients ambulatory is an example of a disruptive business plan and technology that we've financed.

How will national health care reform help or hinder these exciting innovations?

In the short term, national health care will be a net neutral to innovation.  In the longer term, it will favor cost-sparing innovations over other technologies as cost containment policies kick into higher gear.

The DiabetesMine Design Challenge is open to everyone -- amateurs and tinkerers included.  What potential do you see in an open innovation competition like this?

The challenge levels the playing field so that inventors and technologists of all stripes can bring their ideas to an open forum and come a step closer to commercialization.  The feedback alone should be worth its weight in insulin.

You said it, John, thank you.

NOTE: Just about one more week is left to enter the competition! Please read the rules carefully here before making your submission.

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