Tigerlabs Health Accelerator to Pair Corporate Needs with Startups

4/17/13Follow @jpruth

Eager to nurture ripe ideas from startups in the healthcare IT sector, Tigerlabs Health accelerator in Princeton, NJ today announced it has launched an additional program to match industry needs with entrepreneurs. New York-Presbyterian Hospital and the Merck Global Health Innovation fund will help choose startups to join a select group within the accelerator—and leverage ideas that can be applied to specific issues that the hospital and the fund both want to address.

This “innovation track” is an addition to the Tigerlabs Health accelerator, which cultivates companies developing technology for the healthcare and pharmaceuticals industries, and will put mentors from Merck and New York-Presbyterian in contact with a specially chosen batch of startups. Bert Navarrete, managing partner and co-founder of Tigerlabs, says it is a way to speak more directly to needs of those sponsor groups and give entrepreneurs preferred access to industry players. “It’s very akin to the corporate venture capital model of making investments in companies,” he says.

Tigerlabs is an entrepreneurship campus founded in 2011 and the parent of the Tigerlabs Health accelerator, which was announced last fall. Tigerlabs Health aims to draw upon such resources as New Jersey’s pharmaceutical and healthcare giants, which include Merck & Co., Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Johnson & Johnson. Startups chosen to join the accelerator get $20,000 in seed funding and access to co-working space. In February, the very first batch of five startups was accepted into the Tigerlabs Health accelerator with a demo day planned for May. A second demo day for future participants is planned for the fall. Sponsors of the Tigerlabs campus include Microsoft BizSpark, the Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator, AppNexus, and Twilio Cloud Communications.

Navarrete believes the innovation track will give Tigerlabs Health an edge luring in entrepreneurs to the accelerator. “We have captive audiences for them at Merck Global Health and New York-Presbyterian who will work alongside them strategically on a lot of their early development needs,” he says.

The hospital and fund in turn will get an early look at the startups and may find ways to harness their ideas to solve certain problems. New York-Presbyterian, he says, is looking for ways to improve its processes, profitability, and management. Merck is interested in new technology and platforms for working with data, according to Navarrete.

Tigerlabs Health has sought to be flexible, he says, with its plans for nurturing this sector. “Healthcare IT companies generally take longer to develop,” says he. “They take longer to execute on their sales strategy.” July 2 is the deadline to apply for the innovation track though the accelerator typically takes applications on a rolling basis.

Navarrete says Tigerlabs Health expects to host five to 10 startups in each overall cohort. “We have a bias towards companies that have a mix of business and technical co-founders,” he says. The accelerator has attracted entrepreneurs from Denver, Chicago, New York, and Princeton as well as from France and Britain. All the startups thus far selected to join the accelerator have either shipped or are monetizing a prototype or live product, Navarrete says. Companies that previously raised capital can also be found at the accelerator, tapping into Tigerlabs Health resources to help them go to market.

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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