Greenhouse Effect: How Accelerators Are Seeding Digital Health Innovation

Aaron Apodaca

Accelerators help digital health entrepreneurs start up and build their innovations by providing capital, guidance, and business support.

February 2013

Click to See Infographic Health accelerators are programs that help entrepreneurs speed the launch and growth of health technology companies by providing capital, strategic guidance, and business support.

A wave of health accelerators emerged in 2011 in response to a proliferation of start-ups that sought to apply technology solutions to some of the biggest challenges in health care. Since then these programs, and the startups they work with, have created new businesses, captured investor interest, and shown signs of progress. This report looks at the rise of accelerators, also known as incubators, and examines the challenges for the model in health care, including:

  • Accelerators rely on working with a high number of startups; some think this approach compromises quality.
  • Startups that focus on consumers or new methods of value-based payment face unproven revenue models.
  • Founders with limited health care experience need more time, capital, and interaction with potential customers and users.

In navigating these challenges, program leaders, sponsors, and health technology startups should consider five key opportunities to maximize the value of health accelerators:

  1. Have a health expert in residence to tackle daily questions and guide strategy
  2. Focus intently on the business model and question whether an innovative product can support a viable business
  3. Emphasize a specific sector, customer type, end user, or technology platform to align stakeholders and create market synergies
  4. Work closely with sponsors and partners to define program objectives based on specific business needs in a target market
  5. Tailor programs to meet differing needs of startups based on their phase of development

The complete report is available as a Document Download.