COVINGTON, Ky. -- Startup accelerator UpTech is getting corporate help selecting businesses for its next class, which begins in September.
Representatives of Edgewood-based St. Elizabeth Healthcare will be on hand to look for startups that offer disruptive solutions to pressing health-care needs. If the solutions are promising enough, St. Elizabeth might work with those startups to test the ideas in the field, said Matt Hollenkamp, St. Elizabeth’s vice president of marketing and public relations. “It’s a really nice opportunity for startups to partner with us,” he said
Hollenkamp said St. Elizabeth will be on the lookout for any promising ideas in health-care technology, but he said the nonprofit is looking especially for ideas that could minimize patients’ wait times, improve the patient experience and improve communications between patients and caregivers.
“We tried not to be too specific,” Hollenkamp said. “Innovation and entrepreneurship and technical advances are keys to the future of health care.... We’re always looking for better ways to care for our community.”
UpTech expects to have two or three medical-related startups for St. Elizabeth to partner with in this class, Program Director J.B. Woodruff said. Classes are limited to 10 startups. Applications for the next class must be submitted by June 11.
Dozens of high-quality health-tech companies could end up applying, he said, but UpTech wants to limit the number chosen so as not to overwhelm St. Elizabeth’s personnel, who would work with and mentor the startups.
It’s a great opportunity for a startup to get feedback on its product or service, Woodruff said.
It will be up to St. Elizabeth how far it wants to push its commitment to a particular participant, Woodruff said. “We recognize there are inherent risks in working with startups.”
If St. Elizabeth identifies startups it would like to see in the class, he said, the next step would be to find the right St. Elizabeth personnel to act as stakeholders and advisers. If St. Elizabeth likes a startups enough, he said, it could host a pilot of the startup’s solution, purchase the solution or invest in the company.
If St. Elizabeth finds long-term value in what UpTech is doing, Woodruff said he’d love to see St. Elizabeth become an investor in the accelerator, whose nonprofit operations are now funded via some state money and by foundation grants. In addition, if all goes well with the St. Elizabeth partnership, Woodruff said UpTech would like to form similar partnerships with players in other significant local industries, such as logistics or finance. The more investment and support UpTech gets from the community, he said, the more challenges it can tackle.
Partnering with St. Elizabeth is a great move for UpTech, said Justin Rumao, program manager for Cincinnati startup accelerator the Brandery . “UpTech is doing the right thing, working with larger organizations to help startups find customers,” he said.
The Brandery has done something similar since 2012 by offering fellowship opportunities to its class members. Three corporations currently offer fellowships: Procter & Gamble , Empower Media Marketing and E.W. Scripps . (Scripps owns WCPO.)
P&G selects two Brandery startups each year to participate in a pilot with the company. It’s an opportunity that’s become highly sought after nationally, Rumao said.
“It’s a huge benefit for the startups to be able to partner with the large corporation ... (which can) validate the product on a larger and faster scale” than the startup could by itself, he said.
This year, the Brandery also changed how it chose the startups for its summer-fall class, narrowing the focus to:
- Companies that sell a physical product, primarily online, but that would value retail connections.
- Companies that try to bridge digital and physical shopping through technology.
- Companies focused on customer-relations management, mobile marketing, analytics and sales technology.
The Brandery did that because this region is better equipped to support startups that work in those industries, Rumao said. “We know they can find customers here in town.”