Health IT

Move over bats and bourbon, healthcare startups are taking over in Louisville

Bobby Ferreri, Jackie Willmot, Jay Garmon, Bob Saunders, Joanna Cruz, Ted Smith, anc Chris Hall of XLerate Health.

Bobby Ferreri, Jackie Willmot, Jay Garmon, Bob Saunders, Joanna Cruz, Ted Smith, and Chris Hall are running XLerate Health. Zack Pennington is also on the team.

A new accelerator wants to bring healthcare startups in Louisville, Kentucky, onto the national radar.

The birthplace of Kentucky Fried Chicken is not the most obvious source of medical device and pharma companies, but many entrepreneurs have launched health-centric firms from here. XLerate Health wants to add new companies to a list that includes Beam Brush, NX PharmaGen, NICVIEW, Apellis Pharmaceuticals and BFW.

Founders from many of these firms will mentor the startups in XLerate Health’s first class.

Bob Saunders, an angel investor and one of the founders of the accelerator, said that this effort will be enterprise-facing. “We are focused on provider and payer pain points, and very interested in devices that reduce costs,” he said. “We are also interested in customer discovery in the acute and post-acute space.”

XLerate Health has a group of affiliate companies (including MedCityNews) and will accept a class of five to seven pre-venture startups. The 10-week program will focus on understanding the healthcare system, legal and compliance issues, and startup lessons.

XLerate Health will also be drawing on the city’s big healthcare companies — Humana, ResCare, Signature HealthCARE and Kindred Healthcare as well as existing infrastructure for healthcare entrepreneurs — InnovateLTC and Nucleus.

The leaders of the accelerator have each worked in a different part of the health sector. Saunders is managing partner of Saunders Murdock & Associates, an early stage, super-angel firm that specializes in life sciences and technology investments. He previously ran Chrysalis Ventures and supports many entrepreneurial ventures in Louisville.

Co-founder Ted Smith started his own health information startup in 2007. After selling the company, he worked in the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology briefly before joining Louisville Metro Government as the director of innovation. He won the city the first public trial of the Asthmapolis geo-tracking inhaler Asthmapolis. In addition to his connections to the Health Data Initiative and Datapalooza, Smith is also working with NASA to support life sciences startups.

Co-founder Bobby Ferreri is the executive director of EnterpriseCORP, which is part of the city’s chamber of commerce. Ferreri focuses on client services and building a support system for entrepreneurs.

XLerate Health’s chief operating officer, Jackie Willmot, worked for Humana for nine years in clinical design and delivery. She is also a clinical nurse specialist by training.

Startups in the first class will get $20,000 in funding, free office space, mentoring and professional services. XLerateHealth receives a 6 percent equity stake in the companies. The deadline to apply is May 17 and the class starts in August.

Full disclosure: Bob Saunders is an investor in MedCity News. I worked with Ted Smith at his health startup.

Veronica Combs

I was the editor in chief at I started writing and editing in the print world and joined a dotcom right before the 2000 crash. I was at TechRepublic/CNET/BNET for 7 years. Health was more interesting to me than the latest version of Windows, so I left for a startup tracking prescription drug news. A year later, MedTrackAlert was acquired by HealthCentral, so I shifted to audience research. The fun of daily news and interviewing smart people brought me to MedCity News in February 2012. More posts by Author