Now is the Time of the Digital Health Accelerator: HealthXL Begins
Martin Kelly, Partner at Venture Capital Group IBM EMEA and Partner of HealthXL, introduces the first ever HealthXL Program.
This week the first HealthXL Digital Health Accelerator program kicks off! I am so proud to host all these great teams in Dublin, my home city. It has been a relatively long journey. The initial discussions started in June 2012 with an initial list of 50 companies which could be potential candidates. From this we scouted personal networks, conferences and Angelist to engage over 250 companies: everything from diet to fitness to surgery training systems. And here we are at the outset of the program, with eight teams and over 100 fantastic mentors from all over the world. We’re ready for this.
Healthcare is the world’s biggest problem. With all the extraordinary advancements in technology that are taking place, healthcare is still lagging behind. But the eight teams that have been selected to take part in this program can change that. We simply wouldn’t have picked them otherwise. As part of the IBM SmartCamp program we were finding amazing digital health companies like CareCloud and Sproxil, which was recently ranked as the no.1 startup in healthcare by Fast Company. We could see the potential all around the world. Our partners and clients, including GSK, Cleveland Clinic and SVB, could also see this potential. This is a unique opportunity to build meaningful companies and apply technology to real human problems. This is an opportunity to support great entrepreneurs who are willing to risk it all on a vision of how the future should be.
Digital health is booming, we know this. Rock Health recently reported that venture capital funding for digital health grew dramatically in 2012 as investors funneled 46% more money and closed 56% more deals in health care in 2012 than in 2011. These really are remarkable figures. But the digital health scene is still only a baby! Similar to the internet in 1995, we are only just starting to visualize how information technology can address the massive healthcare challenges our global population face. And this truly is a global issue! From Australia via Africa to America there are entrepreneurs who believe that they can create a sustainable business, while making the world a better place.
However, the challenges involved in changing this industry are complex. In many cases the payer is different to the user. There are experts who manage the process, and there are experts who regulate it. There are many different stakeholders and competing points of view. But crucially, there is also both an acceptance and a real desire to make this new field succeed. This really is more than just another means of making money. This is about our futures, the futures of our loved ones, about improving the quality of life for everyone, the world over. If we don’t dream big, we’ve already failed.
This is why digital health accelerator programs are, I believe, absolutely essential to the success of digital health. Startup accelerator programs have been popping up with increasing regularity over the last number of years, but it is arguably in this new field of digital health that this model is most suited. It is absolutely essential that professionals with different areas of expertise can come together to make these projects succeed: entrepreneurs, clinicians, technicians, VCs etc. This is a game-changing model. It is exciting because the mentors involved really want to improve something – healthcare. This is our passionate fixation. These programs cannot only just make a difference, they can absolutely transform healthcare. Waiting and hoping for change is no longer an option. Now is the time of the Digital Health Accelerator.