In the past year, several startup accelerators have popped up around the country to give health tech entrepreneurs access to funding, mentors and other kinds of support. But a program launched this week in New York is taking an interesting new approach to encouraging digital health innovation.
Backed by the New York City Economic Development Corporation and Health 2.0, PILOT Health Tech NYC is designed to pair health startups with city health organizations, including hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and nursing associations, for pilot programs.
Funded by the city and part of a larger effort to boost life science and health care technology, the program will award up to $100,000 each to 10 pilot programs that will last three to six months.
Jean-Luc Neptune, senior vice president of Health 2.0, a conference, media and innovation company in health tech, said that while health care organizations want to work with startups — and vice versa — it can take a couple of years for them to find the right partners and get the deal done. Hospitals, community groups and companies may not have the time or internal staff resources to research the best tech partners and implement new programs. And health entrepreneurs may not have the connections to navigate the larger ecosystem.
“We’re closing the gaps and making it easy for the technology to get to the market and for the market to find the technology,” Neptune said.
In partnership with the Blueprint Health accelerator and Startup Health academy, the new program is encouraging early-stage startups to attend “matchmaking sessions,” where they’ll meet with 10 to 20 “host” healthcare organizations. If the host organizations and startups make a match during the speed dating-like sessions, they’ll jointly apply for the $100,000 funding. Neptune said that startups and health organizations that have already expressed interest in working with each other can also apply to the program by its May deadline.
In addition to Blueprint Health and Startup Health, New York is now host to the New York Digital Health Accelerator and the Bio and Health Tech Entrepreneurship Lab. But given that for many health tech startups, a big hurdle (often more than getting capital or finding talent) is commercializing the product, PILOT Health Tech NYC will be a nice complement to the city’s existing health entrepreneurship programs.