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Insurer's Program Boosts Health Care Startups

By Marie Szaniszlo, Boston Herald
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Jan. 19--Insurance giant Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts is looking for a new crop of startups for its Healthbox accelerator program, designed to give a boost to companies that grow out of Boston's thriving health care technology field.

Healthbox, which is accepting applications for its second season through Feb. 10, will choose 10 startups that have found a "novel approach to solving big problems," said Jenna Rose, U.S. director of operations.

"The choice to stay in Boston for another accelerator program was simple, as it has strong foundations in health care, technology and entrepreneurship," Rose said.

The 16-week program, which begins March 18, offers startups mentoring, office space and $50,000 in seed capital in exchange for 7 percent equity. The accelerator culminates in Innovation Day, a high-profile event showcasing the companies to the industry and investor community.

Goutam Reddy, one of two Massachusetts Institute of Technology-trained engineers who developed the uBox, a "smart pillbox" that reminds patients when to take their medication and alerts their caregivers if they forget, said that within the first month of last year's program, he and Abiogenix co-founder Sara Cinnamon met nearly 50 prospective mentors, whom they eventually pared down to about 10.

"We instantly had access to topnotch people willing to give us advice," Reddy said. "It's been great for us because we didn't understand all the financing and players in the health-care space."

Although other local accelerators, such as MassChallenge and TechStars, also connect startups with mentors, Healthbox offers the advantage of expertise specific to the health care field, said Tim Schwartz, CEO of Uprise Medical, which developed a platform that improves the delivery of patient education through tablet and web apps.

"That was the real differentiator," Schwartz said.

Healthbox will host a networking event from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at 111 Huntington Ave., Suite 2500, for entrepreneurs considering applying for its next accelerator.


(c)2013 the Boston Herald

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Distributed by MCT Information Services

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