Rock Health investors up seed funding for startups to $100K

By Brian Dolan
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Halle Tecco Rock HealthDigital health accelerator Rock Health's investor partners have upped the amount of seed funding they will invest in startups that participate in the program from $20,000 to $100,000. The startups will each receive a total of $100,000 from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), Mohr Davidow Ventures, Aberdare Ventures, and the Mayo Clinic. Rock Health, which is itself a non-profit, will continue to take no equity in the startups.

Rock Health just graduated its first class of startups from its Boston-based (well, Cambridge, really) summer program. Rock Health CEO Halle Tecco told MobiHealthNews that it is interested in making the Boston-based program an ongoing one instead of a summer program, but it is looking for more help from Boston-area partners to make that happen. Harvard Medical School and Merck supported this past summer's program.

“Our goal is to encourage the next generation of tech entrepreneurs to focus on ways to improve health outcomes,” Tecco stated in the announcement. “The increased amount of seed capital will allow us to provide more resources to entrepreneurs who are developing clever, product-centric business ideas that solve meaningful problems in healthcare.”

The increase in funding also comes following the launch of other health-focused accelerator programs like Healthbox, Blueprint Health, and the New York-based Digital Health Accelerator, just to name a few.

Rock Health, which has been in operation longer than the others, has shepherded 35 digital health startups over the past two year.

The group's next San Francisco-based program has begun taking applications starting today, and the application process closes September 16th.

More about the announcement in the press release below:

PRESS RELEASE: San Francisco (August 28, 2012) – Rock Health, the first start-up accelerator exclusively for entrepreneurs at the intersection of technology and healthcare, today announced a new partnership led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers -- one of the leading digital and life science venture capital firms -- to increase funding for entrepreneurs working on novel digital health applications. Through support from KPCB, Mohr Davidow Ventures (MDV), Aberdare Ventures and the Mayo Clinic, each start-up will receive $100,000 in funding. Applications for the fourth class open August 28.

With offices in San Francisco and Boston, Rock Health seeks applicants with novel business ideas that use digital technology to drive innovation and change in healthcare (healthcare industry experience is not necessary). In addition to seed capital, Rock Health’s five month accelerator program provides access to a community of experts, mentors and office spaces.

“Our goal is to encourage the next generation of tech entrepreneurs to focus on ways to improve health outcomes,” said Halle Tecco, CEO and Co-Founder of Rock Health. “The increased amount of seed capital will allow us to provide more resources to entrepreneurs who are developing clever, product-centric business ideas that solve meaningful problems in healthcare.”

With the passing of the Affordable Care Act, innovations in digital health are seen as a way to improve health outcomes while reducing costs. One example cited by a 2010 American Heart Association Journal article noted that automation of pre-approval requirements and other innovations could lead to increased billing efficiency by 50 percent and save insurers $27.2 billion, hospitals $17 billion and physicians $6.9 billion.

“Healthcare is an industry ripe for digital technology disruption, but has traditionally posed barriers to entry for entrepreneurs and start-ups,” said Beth Seidenberg, M.D., Partner at KPCB. “Our goal is to bring together KPCB’s 40 year history of leadership in information technology and life sciences with entrepreneurs who want to change the healthcare industry.”

KPCB partners Beth Seidenberg, M.D., who leads the firm’s life sciences team, and Mike Abbott, who is a member of the digital venture investment team, will be co-sponsors of the initiative. Abbott was an advisor to Rock Health prior to joining KPCB.

“Mayo’s involvement is focused on working with others in the healthcare industry to advance the delivery of health care in new ways to meet the needs of patients now and in the future. Together, we can innovate more and accomplish more,” says Gianrico Farrugia, M.D., Mayo Clinic Associate Director Center for Innovation.

Applications for the fourth class are open for three weeks, closing September 16, 2012.

About Rock Health

Rock Health is the first start-up accelerator focused on early-stage companies at the intersection of healthcare and technology. Over the past two years, Rock Health has supported 35 digital health start-ups in San Francisco and Boston with seed capital, mentorship and operational support. Start-ups also receive support from medical partners including Harvard Medical School, Mayo Clinic and UCSF.

Rock Health mentors include founders like Charles Huang (Founder of GuitarHero), Jeff Hammerbacher (Founder of Cloudera), Nick Ganju (Founder of ZocDoc) and Dave Morin (Founder of Path). Past speakers include Aneesh Chopra, Esther Dyson, Guy Kawasaki and Dr. Eric Topol.

Rock Health Company Investors: Aberdare Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Mayo Clinic and Mohr Davidow Ventures.

For more information, visit rockhealth.com

About Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

Since its founding in 1972, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers has backed entrepreneurs in more than 500 ventures including AOL, Amazon.com, Citrix, Compaq, Electronic Arts, Genentech, Genomic Health, Google, Groupon, Intuit, Juniper Networks, Netscape, Sun, Symantec, Verisign, webMD and Zynga. KPCB portfolio companies employ more than 350,000 people worldwide. More than 150 of the firm’s portfolio companies have gone public, and many other KPCB ventures have achieved success through mergers and acquisitions. KPCB focuses its global investments in three practice areas - digital, greentech and life sciences - and provides entrepreneurs with company-building expertise out of its offices in Silicon Valley, Beijing and Shanghai.

About Mohr Davidow Ventures

For more than 25 years, the Mohr Davidow team has invested in early stage start-ups and worked closely with exceptional entrepreneurs to move innovation forward, and to develop and deliver new, technology-based ideas, products and services. The firm’s investments result in companies that transform industries whether through better infrastructure for our rapidly evolving data-intensive digital world, more efficient power for our planet, or better, more personalized medicine. Category-leading companies funded by Mohr Davidow include: Agile (ORCL); AudienceScience; Brocade (BRDC); Echelon (ELON); GridIron Systems; HealthTap; Massive Health; Nanosolar; ONI Systems (CIEN); Rally Software; Recurrent Energy (acquired by Sharp Corporation); Pacific Biosciences (PACB); Panasas; ParAllele (AFFX); ParAccel; Proofpoint; OPXBIO; RainDance Technologies; Rambus (RMBS); Shutterfly (SFLY); Visible Measures; and ZeaChem. The firm has $2 billion under management. For more information, visit http://www.mdv.com.

About Aberdare Ventures

Formed in 1999, Aberdare Ventures is a San Francisco-based venture capital firm investing in healthcare innovation, often at the earliest stages. Aberdare invests in visionary entrepreneurs and technologies that are transforming global inefficiencies in healthcare with new biological, engineering, and information technologies. Eight investment professionals oversee a committed capital base in excess of $400 million in aggregate. The firm has attracted and partnered with many superior early stage companies, repeatedly backing start-up enterprises that have grown to values exceeding $1 billion.

Historical successes have included Pharmion, Ironwood Pharmaceuticals and Ablation Frontiers. More recently, Aberdare has been among the first to focus on the transformational opportunities created at the intersection of emerging information technologies with healthcare, and has established a leadership position in this ecosystem. Existing commitments to companies such as Aviir, Clovis Oncology, Elation EMR, goBalto, Jiff, Omada Health, mc10 and Sonitus reflect this strategy.

About Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit worldwide leader in medical care, research and education for people from all walks of life. For more information, visit MayoClinic.com or MayoClinic.org/news.

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