Sprint launches mobile health accelerator in Kansas City

By Aditi Pai
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Sprint AcceleratorSprint and Techstars have launched a mobile health accelerator in Kansas City, the hometown region of Sprint, that will mentor 10 startups, according to a press release.

Applications are open until December 6th, finalists will be notified in January, and the actual program is expected to start March 2014. The program will last three months and companies can receive up to $120,000 in funding, $20,000 upfront and the option to accept a $100,000 convertible debt mode funded by Sprint. Techstars retains 6 percent of the equity for each company.

The parameters given for companies that can apply are "any tech-powered start-up who has an innovative idea for a product and/or service that will propel mobile health forward." The accelerator is looking for companies that are already "well-rounded". This means, while the accelerator will provide mentorship and guidance, each company must be capable of building its own product. The Sprint Accelerator will accept applications from companies that already offer a service in the health space, but may not necessarily have a mobile component yet.

"To me, Kansas City is an obvious place that has an up-and-coming tech community to rival other top geographies," Founder and CEO of Techstars David Cohen said in a press release. "The presence of leaders in the mobile health care space makes this the perfect home for the accelerator. We have been watching Kansas City from afar, seeing it come together, and now we're excited to join. It's great to see Sprint giving first through their tremendous network of resources and executive knowledge. It makes all the difference for the companies we fund through the program."

Some examples of types of companies provided on the website include: Wearable technology, sensor-driven devices and networks, products to help care for parents, kids, or pets, socially enabled products and services focused on achieving personal goals, physical products that interact with a person's smartphone, health tools that interact with mobile cameras, mobile apps that can diagnose, medication schedule apps and big data.

Techstars and Sprint reached out to their respective networks to build a team of mentors. Notable mentors of the program include Co-Founder & CEO of EveryMove Russell Benaroya, Foundry Group Managing Editor Brad Feld, Audax Health VP of Mobile Product Ian Klassen, Ginger.IO CEO Anmol Madan, SuperBetter Chief Creative Officer Jane McGonigal, Facebook Engineering Director Alex Himel and HIMSS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Mark Leavitt.

Three years ago, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse keynoted HIMSS. At the time Hesse pointed out a few compelling use cases for mobile health including e-prescribing, secure access to vital signs, advanced mobile apps for consumers, ultrasound probe that plugs right into a mobile phone, and wireless video monitors for virtual, in-home visits. Since then the company has remained relatively quiet.

In December, Techstars teamed up with Nike+ to launch an accelerator and announced the 10 finalists this March. That program is geared towards startups that can leverage Nike+ technology and data to help people be more active.

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