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Survival of the Fittest: Health Care Accelerators Evolve Toward Specialization

Lisa Suennen

Accelerators aim to nurture health care entrepreneurs and startup companies until they can compete in the marketplace. To survive in a tough environment, they are starting to specialize.

Just a few years in existence, health care accelerators — programs that nurture entrepreneurs and their startup firms — are proliferating. There are now almost 90 dedicated health accelerators in the United States, and at least a dozen more around the world. Most of these focus on digital health and are less than two years old.

To find out what these entities look like, how their environment is changing, and whether they are successful, Lisa Suennen, the author of this report, draws on input from leading entrepreneurs, sponsors, and accelerator founders. Suennen is the managing partner of Venture Valkyrie Consulting and coauthor of Tech Tonics: Can Passionate Entrepreneurs Heal Healthcare with Technology?

Implementation of the ACA has encouraged both the demand and supply sides of the health care accelerator field, and accelerators are responding by specializing according to ownership, purpose, or affiliation. In addition, accelerators are experimenting with changes to the program formats and services. Some are enabling virtual models so that entrepreneurs do not need to relocate for the duration of the program.

It is too early to assess whether health care accelerators are successful, but the founders, sponsors, and entrepreneurs are using an assortment of metrics to define what works and what doesn't.

The complete report is available under Document Downloads.

As part of this research, CHCF fielded a survey of health care accelerators and incubators. The resulting inventory is available in the database under Document Downloads. Please send corrections to Melissa Buckley at CHCF. To make additions, please submit a new entry through the survey.