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Hackensack Meridian Health Invests $25M in Tech Incubator

August 21, 2017
by Rajiv Leventhal
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New Jersey-based Hackensack Meridian Health has teamed up with the New Jersey Innovation Institute (NJIT) to open a health incubator with a design similar to the reality show ”Shark Tank,” in which companies pitch healthcare innovation ideas to a panel of experts.

The incubator, Agile Strategies Lab, is the first of its kind for healthcare advances in New Jersey, according to officials. The lab, located on the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) campus in Newark, is designed to help create and launch the next wave of problem-solving in healthcare through better devices, improved technology and more efficient services to provide a higher quality of care, lower costs, and an enhanced patient experience, officials said in an announcement.

Hackensack Meridian Health has committed $25 million, a new revenue stream to help companies develop trailblazing products and services. This seed money will help launch ideas to the point where they can become viable and receive financing through venture capitalists. And the organization’s vast network—13 hospitals in seven counties, and more than 100 outpatient centers and 6,000 physicians—will look to serve as a vehicle to test some of the innovations once they are advanced enough as determined by a panel of experts from multiple disciplines.

While many of the nation’s major academic medical centers have such incubators, this venture brings together entrepreneurs and innovators from life sciences, engineering and technology—not just the clinical realm. As such, the idea is that this collaboration will provide solutions to healthcare challenges in every sphere, not just in creating more effective medicines or treatment, officials stated.

Stemming from the concept behind “Shark Tank,” 10 companies have already pitched ideas to a panel of experts. Innovations include a device to lower risk in common surgeries and a wearable monitor to better track patients’ vitals. Four finalists will be selected to start the process to bring the products or innovations to market.

“The healthcare market is overdue for a new disruptive technology that makes a marked improvement in the way health care technology products and services are provided to consumers,” Joel Bloom, Ph.D., president of NJIT, said in a statement. “It is our belief that this new state-of-the-art ideation center will help spark our next wave of innovation.”

Added Andrew Pecora, M.D. chief innovation officer and president of Physician Services at Hackensack Meridian Health, “The new lab will help inventors obtain patents and help bring to the bedside leading innovations more quickly. The lab will also offer portfolio management of companies launched. I don’t think you have this anywhere else in the country. And keep in mind, this isn’t just about life sciences, this is information technology, best practices – it’s anything you can think of that makes the healthcare experience, from beginning to end, better.”

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