Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the startups' total revenue generated.
MassChallenge HealthTech, the mentorship-based healthtech accelerator, graduated its third class at an event in downtown Boston yesterday, as well as awarding $200,000 in prizes to startups.
“Today we’re recognizing and celebrating entrepreneurship that thinks and acts outside the box, and that challenges the digital health field while bringing together the major stakeholders in the top city in the nation for digital health,” John Barros, Boston’s Chief of Economic Development, said at the event. “MassChallenge HealthTech highlights our unmatched cleverness and capability and continued collaboration between public, private, educational institutions, and our medical community as well as our commitment to improve the health outcomes of people from all walks of life."
In the MassChallenge program, startups pitch a large group of “champions” which include health systems, insurers, pharma companies, and other large companies with a stake in healthcare. In order to join the program, at least one of these champions has to select a company to mentor and, in many cases, to work with as a pilot site or initial customer.
The top $100,000 prize, along with the $10,000 startup’s choice award selected by popular vote from the cohort themselves, went to 1UP Health, a startup that lets patients, providers and developers aggregate and share health data — including information from EHRs — through the use of FHIR APIs.
“What we really want to do is make healthcare interoperability easy and accessible so that all the apps and all the things people want to do to innovate can be done easily,” Chief Product Officer Doug Williams said. “That’s what we really want to do, is make a difference in patients’ lives.”
The two $40,000 prizes went to GoGoGrandparent, which helps organizations address senior citizens’ transportation needs, and Pixm, a startup focused on using AI to prevent employees from falling for email phishing scams.
Behavioral health app Marigold Health took home the $20,000 judges’ choice award while workplace wellness services aggregator Welnys won the Mitre Women in Digital Health Award.
Finally, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care won the Goodwin Procter Champion of the Year award, a non-cash award given out to recognize leaders among the program’s mentors.
WHY IT MATTERS
The program, which debuted in 2016, exemplifies the current trend in health tech accelerators by focusing primarily on connecting startups to partners. At the event, MassChallenge HealthTech Managing Director Nick Dougherty shared data that shows how successful that approach has been for the program.
“During the program, [startups in the cohort] implemented more than 24 times and there’s 19 on the way right behind that. So it’s amazing to see that these partnerships are translating into real impact,” he said from the stage. “They’ve created 415 direct jobs, [raised] $26 million, and [generated] $5 million in revenue during the program. And we ran from January through May. … In our lifetime we’ve accelerated 88 companies that have gone on to raise $378 million in funding. They’ve generated $52.8 million in total revenue and created 1,200 direct jobs. So it’s just amazing to see how much growth there’s been.”
THE LARGER TREND
The program isn’t resting on its laurels. For one thing, it’s already been used as a model by MassChallenge to create its second vertical accelerator, for FinTech, which launched last year. But Dougherty also shared plans for the future of the accelerator.
“We know we have a really successful model that doesn’t just work in our healthtech program but also works in our FinTech program too,” Dougherty said. “And one of the reasons why it works is because we really focus on getting the machinery right. So the last three years we’ve had PhDs and MBAs embedded in the program, studying our processes and we’re going to start publishing on some of the findings that we’ve had. Our goal is to be one of the world’s first evidence-based accelerator programs. And we’re hoping that in the next five to 10 years pretty much everything we do will be based on an evidence-based approach.”
HIMSS Media Director of Content Jonah Comstock participated in MassChallenge HealthTech's award ceremony as an onstage interviewer. Neither that appearance nor MobiHealthNew's coverage of the event were compensated by or promised to MassChallenge or its partners in any way.