Winrock International, Arkansas Heart Hospital, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and BioVentures hosted a reception at AHH in Little Rock late Monday to announce the six startups that have been selected to participate in the inaugural Health InnovatAR health care accelerator.
The Arkansas Economic Development Commission has awarded a $250,000 grant to Winrock for the five-month, $550,000 program. It will be managed by Jeff Stinson, who works with the Innovate Arkansas team at Winrock and serves as executive director of the Fund for Arkansas' Future, which is the state's largest angel investment fund.
The program must reapply for the grant every year, he said.
Stinson also told media at the event that the grant will support overhead costs to administer the program while 10 investors, including himself, are providing an upfront seed investment of $50,000 to each of the six companies. They may also receive back-end investments.
The participants are:
- Day Zero Diagnostics of Boston, which seeks to use genome sequencing and machine learning to modernize infectious disease diagnosis and treatment.
- Ejenta of San Francisco, a platform with remote monitoring and patient engagement applications designed to improve the lives of patients with chronic health conditions.
- ExplORer Surgical of Chicago, a workflow management tool with an interactive surgical playbook for live use during surgery.
- Lapovations of Fayetteville, which has invented a laparoscopic surgery device designed to use existing operating room wall suction to lift and hold the abdominal wall more reliably and less invasively than current alternatives.
- Macro-eyes of Seattle, a predictive scheduling application designed to cut revenue loss due to no-shows with a seamless add-on to existing scheduling systems.
- Medical Informatics Corp. of Houston, a clinical intelligence platform designed to transform patient data into actionable information in a single, unified dashboard.
Lapovations was one of 18 Arkansas startups that applied for the program, and the hospital partners are working now to develop a program that parallels the accelerator for some from that group, Stinson said. He said companies who are a good fit, that can benefit from the hospitals and offer the hospitals something in return, will be chosen for the parrallel program.
The six companies were selected from hundreds of applicants in 20 countries. Together, they have 46 full-time employees and have raised $15 million. Stinson said at the event that 16 percent of jobs in Arkansas are in health care, the industry here has a $2.8 billion payroll and an $11.4 billion economic impact.
He also described the program as a "win" for everyone involved. Hospital partners get access to disruptive technologies, the companies get access to them, and the investors get access to companies they can invest in. He said the accelerator strikes a good balance between investor and state interests, which don't always align.
Each startup will develop and execute a custom work plan with the hospital partners as part of the Health InnovatAR program. Their executives will meet with mentors that include Arkansas clinicians and health care administrators, as well as subject matter experts in HIPAA compliance, FDA/regulatory approval, intellectual property law, sales and marketing and procurement.
The goal of the program is to help participants progress rapidly from concept to product development and customer acquisition.
"We are looking for companies that can come in and fundamentally help Arkansas Heart Hospital and UAMS increase the quality of their care, decrease their costs and make them more efficient in some way," Stinson said. "And then we're also looking for companies that fit well with the needs of our hospitals. It has to work both ways. Our hospitals have to be able to offer them something; they have to be able to offer our hospitals something in return so you get that perfect fit."
He added that this iteration of Health InnovatAR will help address a gender gap that exists in money invested nationally in startups in the U.S. He said, of $85 billion invested in 2017, $73.1 billion was invested in companies founded by men; $10.2 billion was invested in companies founded by men and women; and $1.7 billion was invested in companies founded by women. Half the companies selected for this year's accelerator were founded by women.