As part of their work to advance health care innovation, some health systems and technology companies are introducing accelerator programs to give young startups the resources they need to develop digital health products. Recently, more accelerators specifically focused on health equity have emerged, such as programs created by Amazon, UCSF and Boston Medical Center.
Two weeks ago, UCLA Health announced induction cohort of startups for its health equity accelerator called the TechQuity Accelerator. The seven digital health startups, which represent Series A-stage companies, are developing digital health solutions to address chronic disease management, respiratory disease and healthcare accessibility for vulnerable populations.
Recognizing that the pandemic has exacerbated health disparities among the nation’s most vulnerable groups, UCLA Health engaged with regional stakeholders spanning various industry sectors to identify four themes its accelerator should focus on to improve health security and Resiliency in Los Angeles Residents: Prevention, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Community Impact.
These topics “are relevant to the entire health care delivery framework and represent opportunities to deliver improved value to patient care,” according to Jennifer McKenney, executive director of UCLA Biodesign, the university’s and health system’s risk-taking and leadership development program. .
Through TechQuity, startups have access to UCLA Health’s clinical and public health experts, as well as end users in the health system’s network of more than 250 hospitals and clinics. Companies will also participate in a series of curated workshops and roundtables with leading experts in the field and receive direct product development support during the four-month program.
Accelerators often take an equity stake in the startups they support in exchange for being selected to participate in the program. However, McKenney said that’s not the case with the UCLA accelerator.
Onike Williams, program director at UCLA Biodesign, added that guidance from community partners, such as community clinics and the Los Angeles Department of Public Health, is a cornerstone of the program.
“Most life sciences accelerator platforms focus on training innovators within their cohorts, as opposed to the communities in which they operate,” she said. “Equity in healthcare spans the entire continuum of care, and technology intersects the patient journey at multiple points. Too often, the realm of innovation overshadows the communities most in need.”
UCLA launches TechQuity in partnership with BioscienceLA, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization focused on advancing innovation in the life sciences. McKaney said BioscienceLA is a “natural partner” given their regional connectivity and mission to catalyze the life sciences space through economic growth and workforce development.
Below are the seven startups selected to participate in TechQuity:
- Aevice Technologieswhich is developing an AI-based remote patient monitoring platform to identify acoustic digital biomarkers in chronic respiratory diseases
- Amptron Medicala startup building a respiratory care device to keep patients off ventilators
- Etude DXwhich creates a point-of-care Covid-19 test for low-resource settings
- IHP Therapeuticsa company developing a home-based rescue therapy for sickle cell pain using a glycobiology-targeted platform
- Ioncella startup building a pandemic management platform to facilitate access to community health resources
- A shared harvestwhich is building a mobile platform to provide vulnerable populations with telehealth, tethering and rapid diagnostic testing
- Telebionicsa company creating a patient data management system that can transmit patient data to doctors in real time
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