StartUp Health gets strategic investment from Wisconsin health system

By Jonah Comstock
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adheretech A smart pill bottle from AdhereTech, a StartUp Health company.

New York-based digital health accelerator, network and innovation fund StartUp Health has a new strategic investor: Wisconsin health system Aurora Health Care. The terms of the investment are undisclosed, but the companies described Aurora in a statement as "taking a lead investor role" in the company.

Update: According to a new SEC filing, StartUp Health recently raised $5 million from a single investor. The company would not confirm whether that funding was from Aurora Health Care.

"The Aurora and StartUp Health collaboration is significant because together we can quickly identify the next generation of solutions for the people we serve,” Aurora CEO Dr. Nick Turkal said in a statement. “We’re living in an age where every aspect of our lives is being reinvented by technology; the opportunity now is to streamline how the most effective innovations can be applied to improve the health and wellness of our patients. With StartUp Health we can do this more quickly and efficiently.”

Since its founding in 2011, StartUp Health's portfolio has grown to include more than 100 startups from 10 different countries. Aurora will not only invest in StartUp Health but "will be afforded early access to proposed innovations and will be able to work side-by-side with entrepreneurs to implement solutions in Aurora’s provider and patient communities," according to a statement.

"This is a meaningful collaboration with Aurora that we believe will not only transform the pace of how innovation makes its way to patients and doctors, but we hope will serve as a roadmap for other leaders throughout the industry,” Unity Stoakes, co-founder and president of StartUp Health, said in a statement. “Virtually every aspect of healthcare is being re-imagined and there’s no better way to speed up the cycles of innovation than to collaborate to provide entrepreneurs and innovators with ongoing support, expertise and resources to grow their business. Aurora is the perfect entity to do this with.”

Aurora Health Care is the largest private employer in Wisconsin. It sees more than 1.2 million patients every year and encompasses 15 hospitals, 159 clinics, 70 pharmacies and 30,000 caregivers. The hospital has a 400 active clinical trials, illustrating a commitment to clinical innovation.

According to the companies, Aurora will immediately begin evaluating for possible adoption innovations that have already been proposed by StartUp Health companies.

“At Aurora, our purpose is to help people live well," Rick Klein, EVP of Aurora's enterprise business group said in a statement. "Our new investment in StartUp Health will help us to continue to fulfill that purpose by delivering the very best patient care in an efficient, cost-effective manner. We are excited to work with StartUp Health as they help us identify the next generation of solutions for our patients.”

Introducing startup companies to potential provider partners has become increasingly important for some digital health incubators. For instance, two years ago, in 2013, Healthbox CEO Nina Nashif suggested to MobiHealthNews that the number of companies that have secured hospital pilots might be a more meaningful measure of success for a health incubator than the number of companies that received post-program funding. Healthbox built on this idea with Foundry, a version of its accelerator created in-house at Intermountain Healthcare in Utah, expressly to incubate ideas from hospital physicians and staff.