Digital health accelerator in Philadelphia looking for health IT startups

One year after DreamIt Health and the Canadian consulate launched digital health accelerators, the University City Science Center is hosting a state-backed health IT accelerator, according to a statement. The program has spots for six companies in a three-month program in Philadelphia. Aron Starosta, who set up the Canadian Consulate’s accelerator on the Science Center’s […]

One year after DreamIt Health and the Canadian consulate launched digital health accelerators, the University City Science Center is hosting a state-backed health IT accelerator, according to a statement. The program has spots for six companies in a three-month program in Philadelphia. Aron Starosta, who set up the Canadian Consulate’s accelerator on the Science Center’s campus, also developed the Pennsylvania-backed program.

Geography isn’t a barrier as long as companies are registered in the state. The application deadline is March 15.

Here are some of the vetting criteria. Companies have to:

  • Focus on the support of digital health or health IT initiatives
  • Form partnerships with university affiliates
  • Create jobs in the Greater Philadelphia region
  • Generate revenue or have a matching source of investment
  • Have a Pennsylvania-based operation for the duration of the funding period
  • Complete their project by May 2015

Companies picked for the program will receive up to $50,000 in funding from the state with some of the funding coming from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Discovered in PA – Developed in PA program — an initiative to boost economic opportunity in the state by seeding innovative ideas that promote entrepreneurship, technology transfer and business outreach.

Participants will get office space at the Science Center, professional mentorship and “warm introductions” to healthcare stakeholders including insurers, pharmaceutical companies, and hospital and research institutions located in the region, the statement said.

Stephen Tang, the CEO of the University City Science Center, said the accelerator will leverage experience from working with the Canadian accelerator and the QED Proof of Concept program, which recently added a health IT track. The program works with more than 20 universities in the region and its winners have included researchers at Drexel University School of Medicine as well as University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. In 2012, two Rutgers University projects were selected for funding awards: a smartphone app to assist stroke patient recovery using physical therapy and a tool to enhance the identification of prostate cancer using computer-based image analysis of MRI scans.

Although the QED program participants have a longer timeline to demonstrate their technology (one year), Tang sees it as a way to diversify its programs and give entrepreneurs an opportunity to ask important questions earlier in the product development process.

“What we are trying to do is offer more choices in the marketplace in the area of digital health,” Tang said. He added that hosting the health IT accelerator is in keeping with the center’s role in the region as a place maker — a facility that bridges connections between companies, entrepreneurs and investors in and out of Philadelphia. “What we have learned through the QED program is we can fund and guide programs in digital technology without these groups being on campus.”

Given the Science Center’s QED program partners, it will be interesting to learn which organizations, particularly providers and payers, will serve as collaboration partners for the program.

DreamIt Health Philadelphia is scheduled to begin a second class in July and will begin taking applications in March. Last year, it announced it would open new offices on the Science Center’s campus as part of a collaboration with Drexel University.

[Photo from from flickr user Brian Swan]