UNC and AWS partner to launch 10 new digital health companies

Steven Loeb · November 30, 2022 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/5596

They are launching a software factory to support 25 projects in the next three years

The digital health space is growing very, very quickly: as of June of this year, there were more than 1,900 digital health startups in the United States that had raised more than $2 million in venture funding. In terms of companies getting funded, there was $29.1 billion invested in digital health companies in 2021, nearly doubling the $14.9 billion invested in 2020, which also happened to be the previous record. Things have since come down quite a bit, but still higher than they were before.

So, there's no shortage of companies in digital health (in fact, there are so many right now that the space starting to see a correction through consolidation) but get ready for more, as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, through the Eshelman Institute for Innovation, announced a collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS) on Wednesday with the goal of launching at least 10 new companies by supporting 25 projects from UNC faculty members over the next three years. 

Through this partnership, faculty from UNC-Chapel Hill’s health research labs will be able to utilize what it calls a "a cloud-native 'software factory'" that will allow them to build solutions into production-ready formats that run on AWS.

They will get access to services like Amazon SageMaker, which enables developers to create, train, and deploy machine-learning models in the cloud, and Amazon Rekognition, a service computer vision platform, along with secure environments, data solutions, and other artificial intelligence/machine learning managed services.

In addition, the projects will be eligible to receive AWS Computing Credits and collaborate with AWS solutions architects and specialists. 

Projects are selected by a steering committee that is made up of the Eshelman Institute for Innovation, the UNC-Chapel Hill Office of Technology Commercialization, UNC-Chapel Hill Information Technology Services, and Amazon Web Services.

The initial focus for these projects will be on five areas in the healthcare space: platforms for healthcare systems, clinics, and other enterprise settings; platforms primarily for clinicians and clinical support staff; products that capture, store, or transmit clinical information to guide care; products used to diagnose, guide diagnosis of, or monitor patients; and products that deliver medical interventions and therapies. 

So far, eight of the 25 have been selected, including one that is leveraging advanced AI technology to aid in product safety and quality assurance.

“Many of our researchers are developing transformative AI/ML algorithms that can help advance precision medicine and digital therapeutics,” Eshelman Institute for Innovation’s Bob Dieterle, managing director of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Digital Health Venture Studio, said in a statement.

“With this approach, researchers can drop algorithms into a reusable container, snap together a mobile app front end along with a secure backend database, and deploy directly to enrolled patients in their studies.” 

The UNC Eshelman Institute for Innovation has partnered with AWS in the past, holding an Immersion Training last month designed to educate UNC faculty/staff about AWS products and services through hands-on lab experience.

(Image source: wikimedia.org)

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