Entrepreneurs and Underserved Communities: StartUp Health's New Accelerator

Feb 18, 2014, 8:00 AM, Posted by

The past few years have been marked with a surge in health care business accelerators—programs that provide support to help health care entrepreneurs develop their ideas and raise initial funding. In tracking the success of these innovation hubs, we realized something was missing.

On the complex journey of taking a health care idea to market, most entrepreneurs aren’t seeing underserved communities—the people and the providers who serve them—as target markets. The result is that health care innovations are passing by some of the communities that could benefit the most from innovation. But what if we could help entrepreneurs see these patients and their providers as a viable market? What if we could make it easier for health care businesses to design solutions for the needs of our most vulnerable populations?

With this aim in mind, RWJF has provided StartUp Health with a two-year grant, designed to bring entrepreneur-driven innovations to patients and providers in underserved communities. StartUp Health has already established itself as one of the top health care accelerators in the country. The StartUp Health Education Program for Entrepreneurs, which will launch in stages over the next two years, aims to provide entrepreneurs with the resources and contacts they’ll need to better target innovations to meet the needs of vulnerable populations.

As we look to build a culture of health, access is about more than ensuring a community has medical facilities or grocery stores with fresh vegetables. Access also means connecting communities to the next digital health innovation – and, just as importantly, connecting these digital innovators to the right customers.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Pioneering Ideas blog.