DreamIt Health taps Johns Hopkins for second site

By Jonah Comstock
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DreamIt Health, the healthcare-focused branch of Philadelphia startup accelerator DreamIt Ventures, is launching a Baltimore, Maryland class in partnership with Johns Hopkins University. BioHealth Innovation, an organization geared toward bringing more innovation and entrepreneurship to Maryland, is co-sponsoring the class with Hopkins.

The company will seek applications, due November 11th, for 10 companies from around the country to move to Baltimore for four months starting in January. IN exchange for an 8 percent stake in the company, divided up between DreamIt and Johns Hopkins, selected teams will get a working space, up to $50,000 for living expenses, and access to a range of professional and legal services. That's in addition to DreamIt's signature offerings: one-on-one mentorship and introductions to local and national payors and providers.

"The most important thing is access, and I think the really distinctive thing about DreamIt, is a one-to-one match with a mentor who is an exited entrepreneur, who has had success as an entrepreneur and knows a lot about the stakes," Elliot Menschik, the program director, told MobiHealthNews. "We ask them to give three to five hours a week to work with the team they've been assigned to. The mentorship is very intense and very personalized."

Christy Wyskiel, advisor to the president at Johns Hopkins, said the school was enthusiastic, especially because DreamIt Health's Philadelphia class worked with Penn Medicine, which is connected to the University of Pennsylvania. In Baltimore, Hopkins will provide resources not just from the medical school and medical center, but also from the business school, engineering school, and school of public health. Wyskiel said President Ronald Daniels has been pushing involvement in entrepreneurship and innovation as a priority for the school in general.

"The larger goal is to try to ignite those entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial faculty, to help them realize their goals for achieving success through commercialization," she said. "Working with a startup, learning to start a technology company, using technology to solve a problem."

In addition to Hopkins, Menschik said the program will draw mentors and partners from all over the local ecosystem, citing that in the last program, for example, companies worked with AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline. The location, close to Washington, DC, also makes it easier for companies to learn to work with federal agencies like FDA, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the National Institutes of Health, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

"They need to be in discussions with all the stakeholders in healthcare, not just providers," he said. "Payors, pharma, industry vendors, they all become an integral part even if their logo's not slapped on our press release."

Menschik said DreamIt Health isn't limiting applications to one particular kind of company, but he believes B2B plays will tend to do better than consumer ones.

"The most important thing for us is the team and the people," he said. "The idea is going to change and not survive contact with the marketplace. The sandbox they're working in has to address a problem, and that generally means it will trend more toward enterprise than consumer."

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