Writer: Amanda Bradford, 575-646-7148, firstname.lastname@example.org
New Mexico’s culturally diverse population and rugged desert terrain make it a special place for visitors and guests – but these same qualities create challenges when it comes to delivering quality health and wellness information and services to rural communities with a limited network of providers. Advances in telemedicine, digital health monitoring and medical technology continue to improve access for rural residents, and in this rapidly growing field, there is plenty of room for new products and ideas that benefit all New Mexicans.
With funding support from New Mexico Gas Company, Arrowhead Center, the entrepreneurship and innovation hub at New Mexico State University, has launched a new program to accelerate the growth of New Mexico business ideas in the digital health industry.
HealthSprint is a five-month venture builder program designed to support innovation in digital healthcare. It will culminate with Health Assembly, a demonstration day and conference in June, providing a platform for entrepreneurs to connect with funders, partners and customers.
The digital health industry includes products and services related to mobile health, health information technology, wearable devices, telehealth, telemedicine, and many others. HealthSprint aims to accelerate the growth of these business ventures by offering dedicated business development, financing, testing and connections under one roof, much like Arrowhead’s successful AgSprint program recently did for agricultural technology ventures.
Dr. Richard Larson, executive vice chancellor at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center and chair of the New Mexico BioScience Authority, said the HealthSprint accelerator targets an important industry for the state’s continued economic development.
“One of the key pillars to the future of New Mexico’s economy and jobs will be the creation in new areas like bioscience and biotechnology,” Larson said. “Promoting and incenting startup companies through accelerators that strengthen technology transfer from universities to the private sector is a critical element to success.”
Zetdi Sloan, director of the Arrowhead Technology Incubator and the HealthSprint accelerator, said NMSU’s service mission as the state’s land-grant institution and its significant breadth of expertise and health programing across many disciplines makes the university uniquely positioned to benefit entrepreneurs interested in the digital health industry.
“We offer key partnerships, like the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine that’s housed on our campus, as well as more than 40 health-related programs that span every college and discipline right here at NMSU,” Sloan said. “Our state-of-the-art kinesiology research facility is just one example of the resources we can connect with our HealthSprint clients to help them evaluate their products and ideas.”
“Arrowhead Center provides a framework of support and services that can liberate innovators and innovations from the traditional pitfalls of commercializing new technologies,” said George Mychaskiw, co-founder, founding dean and chief academic officer at Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine. “The HealthSprint accelerator will open up opportunity to a new range of innovators to impact healthcare and healthcare delivery for our region and beyond.”
The initial four-week customer discovery period is modeled on the National Science Foundation I-Corps program. Those who show promise will also be invited to continue the program for the next four months and will have access to demonstration and validation partners, investment consideration for the Arrowhead Innovation Fund and NSF I-Corps lineage enabling them to apply for an additional $50,000 in federal funding.
Teams do not need any prior NMSU affiliation to be considered, and selected businesses can participate in the program’s curriculum and its weekly workshops virtually or in-person, making HealthSprint accessible for health technology entrepreneurs in even the most rural areas of New Mexico.
Up to 10 New Mexico companies will be accepted into the accelerator, and each will receive $2,000 to support their customer discovery and to cover the expenses of professional services such as technical writing, website development, counsel on patents and technology licensing, and regulatory consulting. One company will also receive a $20,000 seed investment.
The HealthSprint program is the latest in a series of Arrowhead Accelerator programs funded by New Mexico Gas Company. Previous cohorts have included TechSprint, which focused on tech startups in New Mexico, AgSprint, which attracted agricultural technology businesses from across the Southwest, and BizSprint, which supported New Mexico-based startups that plan to sell their products and services outside the state.
Each HealthSprint team has a required structure, including an entrepreneurial lead based in New Mexico, a technical lead and a business mentor, and Arrowhead Center can help connect applicants to potential team members who could fill any roles that are missing.
Applications for HealthSprint are open through Dec. 10, 2017 at arrowheadcenter.nmsu.edu/healthsprint. The cohort will meet Friday mornings beginning in January 2018.