Pulse@MassChallenge Pulls Heavily From MA for First Group of Startups

[Updated 12/13/16, 9:30 am, with link to list of companies.] Today MassChallenge revealed the 31 startups chosen for the inaugural six-month session of its new Boston digital health lab, Pulse@MassChallenge, and there are a lot of familiar faces.

Eight of the companies that will participate are alumni of MassChallenge’s main startup accelerator program in Boston.

“In many ways, Pulse@MassChallenge acts as a critical next step for digital health startups engaged in our early-stage accelerators around the world,” said Nick Dougherty, Pulse@MassChallenge program director, in an e-mail message. “We’re really looking forward to seeing some familiar faces and providing the level of support that later-stage companies in the space need to succeed.”

The lab’s first class also has a strong New England flavor: 22 of the companies are based in Massachusetts or have an office in the state; one is from Vermont; one is from Rhode Island; and one is from Connecticut.

The other firms hail from New York, Texas, California, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Israel. (That last one also has an office in Massachusetts.)

The 31 companies were selected from more than 430 applicants from around the world, MassChallenge said. (View the full list of selected companies here.)

The companies accepted into the program include Redox, whose software enables healthcare applications to access data from electronic health record systems; Cake, which makes software that helps guide people through end-of-life planning; Rendever, which creates virtual reality experiences for people living in nursing homes and assisted living communities; and Neuroelectrics, which is developing technologies for brain monitoring and stimulation.

The new digital health lab has many features similar to MassChallenge’s other programs. Startups will receive access to office space and mentors; connections with potential investors and customers; and cash prizes and other resources. Early-stage companies don’t give up any equity to participate.

But organizers aren’t calling Pulse@MassChallenge an accelerator. One interesting component that sets it apart from the typical accelerator is that each digital health startup accepted into the program gets matched with a partner organization—such as a hospital, insurer, larger tech company, nonprofit, or government entity—to achieve mutually agreed upon objectives by the end of the six-month session, Dougherty  (pictured above) has said. This might include co-developing new technologies or applying a startup’s product or service toward solving a problem for the partner. (Dougherty declined to share specific examples for now.)

The first Pulse@MassChallenge session will run from January through June, which is longer than the typical four-month accelerator program run by MassChallenge. The lab is based at an 8,000-square-foot space at the Hatch Fenway offices in the Landmark Center in Boston.

Pulse@MassChallenge is part of a broader initiative aimed at raising Massachusetts’s stature and impact in the digital health sector. The effort is backed by the state, the city of Boston, the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership (MACP), MassChallenge, and stakeholders in healthcare, academia, and industry. Other components of the initiative include a nearly $26 million venture fund that will invest in healthtech startups in Massachusetts.

Jeff Engel is a senior editor at Xconomy. Email: jengel@xconomy.com Follow @JeffEngelXcon

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