The top 10 digital health accelerators

Steven Loeb · November 8, 2019 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/4f04

How much they invest, how long the program lasts and what they offer

For startups, there are numerous paths for getting their name out there. One way, which Vator has been covering recently, are through startup competitions, but another popular method to get a foot in the door, as well as some funding and traction, are accelerators. These are programs that provide companies advice, guidance and various forms of support for startups in their early stages. They also often invest in the companies, for a certain equity stake.

The number of accelerators has exploded since the term was first used by Y Combinator when it started in 2005, followed by TechStars and 500 Startups, which have made their names through various successful alumni.

(Here's a great interview between Vator CEO Bambi Francisco and David Cohen and David Brown, the founders of TechStars, in 2014. TechStars was already seven years old and reviewing 12,000 startups a year.)

As of 2016, there was over $206 million being invested in 11,305 startups by 579 accelerator programs around the world. And those numbers have no doubt increased in the last few years. In the U.S. alone, the number of accelerators increased by an average of 50 percent each year between 2008 and 2014. Startups now have a wide variety of choices for which accelerator is best for them. Here's what the Harvard Business Review tallied about what to expect from these institutionalized programs for young startups.

Some programs are fairly general, accepting companies from a variety of different spaces. For other companies, though, it may help to join an accelerator that only focuses on their specific area. That's especially true for those in more specialized spaces, which will have their own unique challenges and regulations.

Here are some of the top accelerators (meaning those that have been around a few years and have already successfully graduated a number of startups) that are focused on mentoring companies in the digital health space:

(Note: Vator will be holding its latest healthcare salon, called The Future of Health Insurance, on Nov. 20. Get tickets here!)

 

Brief overview:
  • Cohort size: 11, twice per year
  • Stage of company sought: Stage agnostic
  • Category specific: Mostly digital health and medical devices
  • Investment in company: $100,000 convertible note
  • Equity stake in company: 6%
  • Benefits to startup: Provides on-site mentorship, access to the Cedars-Sinai team, and a personalized approach

Cedars-Sinai Accelerator says it "is transforming healthcare quality, efficiency, and care delivery by helping entrepreneurs bring their innovative technology products to market."

The company, which invests a $100,000 convertible debt note with a $5 million cap and no discount into every company that participates, offers a three month long program, which is broken down into three phases that are each one month:

  • Phase 1: Mentor engagement and feedback. It has mentors from around the country and the world and connects startups with the best mentor for them based on what they’re looking to achieve.
  • Phase 2: Guidance on product and market fit. This is where the accelerator helps its companies understand how their product fits into a healthcare delivery system, how to develop a business, and revenue and pricing models.
  • Phase 3: Preparation for fundraising. In the final month of the program, Cedars Sinai invites investors and venture capitalists to meet with startups. It also hosts a Demo Day, in which its companies pitch their products to its network of industry leaders, buyers, investors, and the media. 

The accelerator works with companies across every stage, "from functional prototypes to established commercially deployed products." The class size is around 11 startups and runs once or twice a year. 

"While most of our companies already have a product and some traction, we have worked with very early stage companies who are pre-product (prototype) as well as those with established recurring revenue." While companies that have joined the program have raised anywhere from a few thousand dollars to over $10 million, the midpoint is typically between $500,000 to $5,000,000.

The companies that participate get access to four key things:

  • Mentorship. Companies are introduced to key executives and clinicians and front-line staff at Cedars-Sinai and other hospitals across the country. These mentors work with companies weekly to help them figure out how their product best fits into the health care and provider delivery landscape. They are experienced in working with startup companies, and heavily invested in tapping their networks and experience to help our companies be successful. You’ll form organic, tightly integrated relationships working with the Cedars-Sinai team.
  • Technical Access. As a participant in the accelerator program, you will gain access to the stellar IT team at Cedars-Sinai with deep roots in technical integration. You’ll have the opportunity to design, test and troubleshoot, immersed in and with the support of our 600-person enterprise IT shop. Our team of developers and engineers are always eager to tinker and experiment with new technologies, bringing to you their deep experience in EHR integration, workflow and operationalization, digital strategy for mobile and web adoption, and virtual services, all within an enterprise, clinical context.
  • Product Testing. Companies may receive an opportunity to test their product at Cedars-Sinai and by doing so, can adapt their product to find their place in the broader health system market. The access to clinicians, workflows and infrastructure at Cedars-Sinai allows companies to rapidly test and iterate their products with various parts of a health system. Companies can accomplish in just three months what would otherwise take them two years.
  • Customization. Every company gets a customized approach based on the needs of each company. The program classes are small, allowing us to design your experience according to your specific needs. We are flexible, adaptive, and work with each company according to what you need, week by week.

 

Startupbootcamp

Brief overview:
  • Cohort size: 10 per program
  • Stage of company sought: Early stage
  • Category specific: Agnostic across digital health
  • Investment in company: €15K in cash
  • Equity stake in company: Between 6% and 8%
  • Benefits to startup: Expert-led sessions, access to mentors, free coworking space, €450K+ in partner services

Startupbootcamp Digital Health Berlin is a one of many accelerators from Startupbootcamp, which says it supports early-stage tech founders "to rapidly scale their companies by providing direct access to an international network of the most relevant mentors, partners, and investors in their industry."

All Startupbootcamp programs last 3 months, typically between 10-14 weeks. Each Startupbootcamp accelerator program selects 10 startups from more than 500 global applicants. The company runs multiple programs in different cities per year. 

Each startup receives €15K in cash, €450K+ in partner services, 6 months of free collaborative office space. Most programs also have industry-specific deals found on their program page. For those benefits, Startupbootcamp asks for between 6-8% equity, depending on the program.

Program benefits include: 

  • Expert-led sessions covering all scaling fundamentals from business model canvas, to business development and fundraising
  • Collaborate deeply with leading corporates in your industry to secure customers, pilot projects, and partnerships
  • Unmatched access to a global network of mentors, corporate partners, industry experts, and alumni across 40+ countries
  • Over 150 carefully selected mentors from the digital health industry who provide hands-on support and valuable introductions
  • Free coworking desk space at the dynamic Startupbootcamp Digital Health Berlin offices for your entire team during the 3-month program
  • €15,000 in cash per company provided to cover living expenses so teams can commit 100% of their time to the program
  • Huge benefits with exclusive partner deals from leading technology providers such as Amazon, SendGrid, and others
  • Continued post-program support far after the 3-month program ends through annual alumni events, deals and tailored introductions
  • Exclusive exposure opportunities to take part in leading digital health conferences and events as exhibitors and speakers
  • Direct access to meet the most active angels and VCs investing in the digital health industry from around the world
  • A day to celebrate your achievements during the program with 400+ mentors, corporate partners, investors and press attendees 

Once graduated, startups become part of the Alumni Growth program, which provides them with a continued access to a global ecosystem of founders and mentors.

 

Brief overview:
  • Cohort size: 17, twice a year
  • Stage of company sought: Companies with revenue or pilot
  • Category specific: Agnostic across digital health
  • Investment in company: $500K
  • Equity stake in company: "A small amount of equity"
  • Benefits to startup: Coaching, including feedback and insights during weekly meetings with Managing Director Adam Dakin and Program Manager Ethan Wergelis-Isaacson.

Dreamit HealthTech describes itself as "a growth-focused program for digital health, medical device, and diagnostic startups." It accepts 14 startups into its program twice a year.

It's a 14 week program that breaks down this way:

  • Week 1: Kick-Off Week

Kick-Off Week provides an opportunity to get to know the other companies in your cohort, listen to highly pragmatic and impactful presentations from the Dreamit Managing Directors, and do a deep dive into your business to identify potential weaknesses and areas for improvement so we all know where to focus energy during the program.

Time Commitment: Three to five hours of on-site work with Dreamit team members in Philadelphia each day for 3-4 days. Founders have time during these days to focus on their startups, but at least one founder must attend the Kickoff Week.

  • Weeks 2-5: Customer Sprint Prep

During Customer Sprint prep, your Managing Director and Program Manager prepare you for meeting with discerning enterprise organizations by critically analyzing and reshaping how to best present your company and product. We’ll dig deeply into how you present your problem statement, value proposition, differentiation, use cases, and more. We find most startups need deep changes in how they talk to customers in order to grow through pipeline materially. The Dreamit team will challenge your key assumptions just like a customer might test them, and they will provide suggestions to streamline and hone every aspect of your customer-facing pitch.

Most companies come into Dreamit with early sales under their belts yet still see a dramatic improvement in interest levels from customers after undergoing Customer Sprint Prep. This work helps founders to drive conversations forward to secure pilots, proofs of concept, and sales more quickly.

Time Commitment: One to two one-hour remote video calls with your Managing Director and Program Manager each week along with however much time you need between calls to put the recommendations and learnings into action.

  • Weeks 6 & 7: The Customer Sprint

Dreamit’s customer network includes top enterprise organizations in our core verticals, such as Independence Blue Cross, Strategic Property Partners, Penn Medicine, American Express, IBM, Intermountain Healthcare, Blackstone, Related, and more. The products these organizations use often become the industry standard. During a two-week Dreamit Customer Sprint, you visit the offices of these organizations to meet senior decision makers, discuss pilots and/or sales, and initiate partnerships.

Time Commitment: Over one or two weeks, founders meet two to four customers each day. These in-person meetings last anywhere from two to three hours, and take places in several cities, often including New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, D.C. and Tampa. If accepted into Dreamit, you must complete at least one week of the Customer Sprint during your cohort. If you can’t spend two weeks in nonstop meetings with customers, you have the option to defer one week of Customer Sprints to a later program cycle.

  • Weeks 8 -11: Investor Sprint Prep

In advance of the Investor Sprint, Dreamit startups receive intensive pitch prep from their Managing Director and Program Manager to refine their stories, sharpen their decks, and challenge their most essential underlying assumptions. After pitch prep, founders go through demanding Mock VC Meetings with the Dreamit team and experienced investors from the Dreamit community. We usually see deeply material changes to startup pitch decks, how they answer questions, and how they handle themselves in investor meetings.

Time Commitment: One to three one-hour virtual video calls with your Managing Director and Program Manager each week, plus any additional time a founder might need to make changes to presentations. Three or four Mock VC Meetings conducted via video calls that typically last approximately thirty minutes each.

  • Weeks 12 & 13: Investor Sprint

The Dreamit program culminates in a two-week, bi-coastal Investor Sprint. Founders meet with twenty to thirty investors in one-on-one, in-person meetings at investors’ offices. Dreamit’s Investor Sprint is a faster, more efficient way to build relationships with investors, raise capital, find lead investors, and get meaningful introductions. This Investor Sprint has proven much more effective than the standard “Demo Day” or pitch event offered by most programs.

Time Commitment: Two weeks of meetings in the San Francisco Bay Area, Silicon Valley, New York City, and possibly Boston and/or DC depending on your vertical. You will likely have two to four meetings with investors each day, typically lasting anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour each. If you can’t spend two weeks in nonstop investor meetings or you are not yet ready to raise your round, you have the option to defer one or both weeks of Investor Sprints to a later program cycle.

Because Dreamit is a hybrid accelerator model, with founders participating in the 14-week program both virtually and in person, over fifty percent of the Dreamit program takes place virtually. Even with the maximum five weeks of in-person work and meetings during the fourteen-week program, founders have plenty of time outside of meetings to focus on building their businesses. Additionally, Dreamit allows founders to defer one week of the Customer Sprint and one or both weeks of the Investor Sprint to best suit their needs and time constraints.

Dreamit gets the right to invest up to $500K and receives a small amount of advisor equity, though for companies that are earlier in their development but would still receive meaningful benefit from our full program, Dreamit may consider alternative investment structures.

Part of what Dreamit offers is coaching, including feedback and insights during weekly meetings with Managing Director Adam Dakin and Program Manager Ethan Wergelis-Isaacson.

 

Brief overview:
  • Cohort size: 11, once a year
  • Stage of company sought: Early stage and later stage
  • Category specific: Cardiovascular, digital therapeutics, global health, oncology, ophthalmology, pulmonology, radiology and women's health
  • Investment in company: EUR 50,000 to EUR 100,000
  • Equity stake in company: Not specified
  • Benefits to startup: Meetups and networking opportunities, access to Bayer experts, financial awards, promotion, partnerships

Bayer G4A says it is "driven to make a difference and change the experience of health, together with the brightest entrepreneurs."

The company has two tracks for the G4A Partnerships: Growth and Advance. Growth track will be reserved for early stage startups with a minimal viable product (Bootstrapped-Series A) with on-going validation or published findings and the Advance Track will be reserved for companies which are more mature who have products already in the market. 

For the Growth track, companies will be given EUR 50,000 to EUR 100,000. In addition to healthcare technology funding, they are also provide a dedicated workspace (Berlin, DE) and mentorship from industry experts. For the Advance track, successful companies will receive EUR 50K - 100K with follow-on milestone-based payments. The firm selects 11 startups per cohort.

Program benefits include:

  • Meetups and networking opportunities
  • Access to Bayer experts
  • Financial awards
  • Promotion
  • Partnerships
  • Bayer as your customer (Dealmaker and Generator programs for mature companies and startups)

In addition to close collaboration with Consumer Health Category and and Pharmaceutical Health Therapeutic Area experts, startups are paired with senior Bayer executives. This multi-level approach to mentoring provides invaluable insight and opportunities that last well beyond the cohort.

 

startupcreasphere-Transforming Healthcare Together

 

Brief overview:
  • Cohort size: 11, twice a year
  • Stage of company sought: Seed stage and Series A companies, but will also do Series B and later
  • Category specific: Digital biomarkers, digital laboratory solutions for technicians, personalized healthcare, smart maintenance, and big data/analytics
  • Investment in company: Between $25,000 and $500,000 with a median investment size of $100,000
  • Equity stake in company: None
  • Benefits to startup: Office space, personalized mentorship with corporate partners, the option to spend three months at the Plug and Play Accelerator in Silicon Valley, an Expo Day where startups pitch and demo to corporate partners, VCs, angel investors, and the press

Startup Creasphere believes that "young innovative health tech companies hold immense potential and deserve their own dedicated program to accelerate their success." The company is looking for companies that innovate or disrupt the current healthcare value chain, specifically in digital biomarkers, digital laboratory solutions for technicians, personalized healthcare, smart maintenance, and big data/analytics.

It mostly invests in seed stage and Series A companies, but says its also open to participating in Series B and later rounds. 

Check size typically range between $25,000 and $500,000 with a median investment size of $100,000, with no equity requirement, and its objective is to invest in at least 1/3 of the companies that are accepted into each batch. Each batch takes place over a period of around 12 weeks.

Program benefits include office space in one of Munich’s top startup clusters, including any other infrastructure such as meeting spaces, event area, kitchen, meeting rooms of different sizes and internet access. All drinks and coffee are free. It also provides personalized mentorship with ots corporate partners to help startups strengthen their business model and scale within the European health landscape.

Startups also have the option to spend three months at the Plug and Play Accelerator in Silicon Valley. 

The program ends with an Expo Day where startups pitch and demo to corporate partners, VCs, angel investors, and the press. 

 

Brief overview:
  • Cohort size: 20 to 30, once a year
  • Stage of company sought: Stage agnostic
  • Category specific: Agnostic across digital health
  • Investment in company: None
  • Equity stake in company: None
  • Benefits to startup: Workshops and training, “meet the expert” sessions, one to one clinics, and other events and learning opportunities hosted and delivered by the Accelerator and its clinical, topical, and business experts

DigitalHealth.London Accelerator "aims to speed up the adoption of technology in London’s NHS, relieving high pressure on services and empowering patients to manage their health."

It works with 20-30 high potential start-ups and SMEs each year, at any stage of the innovation cycle, though they have a product or solution that is well-defined and are ready to start building their evidence base. 

While the accelerator can connect companies to relevant funding opportunities, it does not provide direct funding or take any equity in startups. 

Companies accepted onto the program will have the opportunity to take part in workshops and training, “meet the expert” sessions, one to one clinics, and other events and learning opportunities hosted and delivered by the Accelerator and its clinical, topical, and business experts.

Each company is also assigned an “NHS Navigator”: an experienced professional from the NHS with the expertise to understand their needs and share expertise and advice on products in development, NHS navigation, and business models.

The program also provides opportunities to connect with NHS stakeholders, industry investors, patients, and other healthtech innovators.

 

 

Brief overview:
  • Cohort size [per yr]: 20, once a year
  • Stage of company sought: Stage agnostic
  • Category specific: Healthcare IT
  • Investment in company: $20,000
  • Equity stake in company: 6%
  • Benefits to startup: Opportunity to interact with many angel and venture investors, work on your investor deck and pitch in preparation for Demo Day

Blueprint Health calls itself "a community of healthcare entrepreneurs helping build the next generation of healthcare IT companies."

It invests $20,000 in 20 healthcare IT companies each year, out of 1,000 that apply. Each program lasts three months, helping startups gain customers, raise capital, build marketing and sales collateral, and refine an investor pitch.

Companies are primarily selected on three criteria: team, coachability, and business model. 

"We look for teams of resourceful and efficient problem solvers and with complementary backgrounds. Your team should be able to sell as well as build and execute on your product or service.  Coachability entails our assessment of your ability to interact and benefit from interactions with our mentors and community."

Companies that have joined Blueprint have been generating up to $1 million in revenue and have had as much as $1M in funding prior to joining Blueprint Health.  About one-third of its alumni already had customers when they joined the program, an additional one-third were ready to make sales, and one-third were not much more than an idea. 

For participation, Blueprint Health receives a 6 percent common equity stake in each company. This is also a pre-option pool and pre-investor capital. Blueprint Health usually ends up with less than 4% of the common stock after a company's seed round. 

After the program ends, Blueprint continues to help its alumni founders build and grow their companies and provide them with resources.

 

Brief overview:
  • Cohort size [per yr]: 12, once a year
  • Stage of company sought: Pre-seed
  • Category specific? Life sciences? Agnostic across digital health?
  • Investment in company: $500,000
  • Equity stake in company: None
  • Benefits to startup: Access to workshops and training sessions, mentoring with the LDH partners and healthcare/IT advisors, co-location for two co-founders

The Launchpad Digital Health Ground Zero Program provides "an immersive program for entrepreneurs desiring to pressure-test and expand their early-stage businesses."

Companies that participate are pre-seed, as the goal of this program is to give participants the tools to build a company that can successfully complete institutional seed funding.

It's a 12 month program that includes 12 startups, which can be anywhere from Seed to Series B stage. The companies that are selected receive up to $500,000 seed funding.

Additional program benefits include: 

  • Access to workshops and training sessions on digital health topics such as MVP, product/market fit, go-to-market strategy, assessing the competitive landscape, scaling, and exit strategies.
  • Structured mentoring with the LDH partners and healthcare/IT advisors based on their needs. Companies also have access to our corporate partners with experience in healthcare, strategy, scaling, accounting, risk management, and legal services.
  • Co-location for two co-founders in its SF digital health hub for at least a month during the program to allow for maximum collaboration and benefit.

Startups also get access to  structured mentoring with the LDH partners and healthcare/IT advisors based on their needs. Companies also have access to Launchpad's corporate partners who have experience in healthcare, strategy, scaling, accounting, risk management, and legal services.

 

Brief overview:
  • Cohort size [per yr]: 6 or 7, once a year
  • Stage of company sought: Early stage
  • Category specific: Agnostic
  • Investment in company: $50,000
  • Equity stake in company: None
  • Benefits to startup: Collaborative workspace, professional mentorship, and introductions to key healthcare stakeholders and investors in the Greater Philadelphia region

Science Center’s Digital Health Accelerator "supports digital health companies ready to transition from research and development to sales."

The DHA provides selected companies with funding, collaborative workspace, professional mentorship, and introductions to key healthcare stakeholders and investors in the Greater Philadelphia region. Participating companies accelerate from prototype development to customer acquisition. DHA curriculum matches companies to professionals with specific skills to help companies meet their individual milestones.

During the 12-month program, the accelerator chooses around six or seven early-stage healthcare companies, in which it invests up to $50,000 cash in operational support.

It also provides:

  • Access to lab and incubator space at the Science Center in Philadelphia
  • Guidance in developing relevant business opportunities in the Greater Philadelphia market and beyond
  • Warm introductions to appropriate decision makers within your target market
  • Expert feedback and recommendations for company presentations and materials
  • Mentorship to complement expertise and operational gaps
  • Support and advice on capitalization, attracting investment, and increasing revenues, customized to each company
  • Introductions to the appropriate advisors, mentors, consultants, and support
  • Access to investors

  

Nex Cubed

Brief overview:
  • Cohort size [per yr]: 10?
  • Stage of company sought: Seed? pre-seed?, pre-product?
  • Category specific? Life sciences? Agnostic across digital health?
  • Investment in company: $25,000
  • Equity stake in company: 6%
  • Benefits to startup: Access to Nex Cubed resources for life, office space, $125,000 worth of customized consulting help, over $1+ million worth of discounts/services, access to mentors, access to the GAN discounts and upgrades from more than 50 top providers

Nex Cubed’s Digital Healthcare Accelerator "is a customized, semi-remote, four-month startup accelerator focused on pairing technically, clinically, and operationally talented founders with Healthcare subject matter experts that work with teams on a daily basis, preparing the startups for investment and enterprise readiness."

The San Diego-based accelerator is semi-remote, so startups don't have to move to San Diego to be a part of the program. It has offices in La Jolla, and teams also have access to offices San Francisco and New York.

Nex Cubed typically invests $25,000 in exchange for 6% common stock. It holds programs twice a year, which it selects around seven companies. 

Program benefits include: 

  • Access to Nex Cubed resources for life
  • Office space at 325 Pacific Ave (the Sway Ventures office) on a full-time or as-needed basis
  • $125,000 worth of customized consulting help from dedicated advisors who have started, exited, and run multiple startups and completed engagements for over 230 startups ranging from Series A to IPO
  • Over $1+ million worth of discounts/services from service providers (hosting credits, travel, tech services, law firms, accounting firms etc). This is a lifelong membership so you have access forever through an online portal
  • Large network of highly successful mentors and professional investors, coupled with a loyal and active startup alumni base
  • Lifetime support and access to the Nex Cubed ecosystem
  • Exclusive access to the GAN discounts and upgrades from more than 50 top providers as well as connections to the world’s most respected accelerators and organizations in support of the startup industry

(Image source: foolcdn.com)

Read more from our "Startup Competition Guide" series

More episodes

Related Companies, Investors, and Entrepreneurs

TheFunded Founder Institute

Service provider

Joined Vator on

TheFunded Founder Institute is a new founder-centric incubator that trains new and seasoned entrepreneurs the best practices for building next generation companies. The unique 4-month program offers remote participation, the industry’s most founder-friendly terms, focused mentorship and training from renowned CEOs, resources from leading service partners, fundraising opportunities at fair market value, and shared equity upside among all participants in the companies formed. Passionate founders can apply today at www.FounderInstitute.com – registration ends on May 10th, 2009.

 

Techstars

Angel group/VC

Joined Vator on

TechStars is a different. It’s a mentorship-driven seed stage investment fund located in Boulder, Colorado which is quickly becoming one of the country’s top startup hubs.

9522

David Cohen

Joined Vator on

6013

Brad Feld

Joined Vator on

4323

Adeo Ressi

Joined Vator on