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Winrock Announces Health Tech Accelerator

2 min read

Winrock International, Arkansas Heart Hospital, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and BioVentures at UAMS recently announced that they are teaming to support a new accelerator for health care technology startups called Health InnovatAR.

The Arkansas Economic Development Commission has awarded a $250,000 grant to Winrock for the program, which will be managed by Jeff Stinson, director of entrepreneurship at Winrock’s Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub in Little Rock.

Stinson is also executive director of Fund for Arkansas’ Future, an angel investor fund launched in 2005 to capitalize early-stage Arkansas-based companies. Angel investors invest in startups in exchange for ownership equity or convertible debt.

The application period for the Health InnovatAR is now through March 31. Stinson said six startups will be selected by April 30. The accelerator will be held from June 1 to Nov. 30.

Each chosen company will receive a seed investment of $50,000 along with mentorship and assistance in moving from concept to product development and finding customers. The startups may also receive back-end investments.

If the Health InnovatAR program sounds familiar, it’s because the Hub has hosted a similar accelerator called HubX-Life Sciences, the first privately funded industry-specific accelerator in the state.

Health InnovatAR also has new partners. HubX-Life Sciences’ partners were Baptist Health and Arkansas Blue Cross & Blue Shield. A 20-member steering committee that includes representative from Arkansas Heart Hospital, UAMS and BioVentures will develop and execute Health InnovatAR, Stinson said.

Another difference is that Health InnovatAR wants three of its six participants to be based in Arkansas. The startups chosen for Health InnovatAR will visit UAMS and Arkansas Heart Hospital and meet their employees, Stinson said. Some programming will take place at the Hub. The startups will also hear experts discuss topics like Federal Drug Administration approval and compliance with medical privacy laws.

Stinson said industry-specific accelerators offer a focus that leads to more relevant programming being developed. “We believe that industry-focused accelerators give you a better chance of bringing some type of expertise,” he said.

This accelerator is important because health care is prominent in Arkansas, and the state is known as a center of health care innovation, Stinson said.

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