Having an incubator program for digital health startups here in the hub sounds like a no brainer. Between Harvard Medical School, Boston Medical Center and the MIT Media Lab, alone, Boston’s ripe for innovation. “Nothing beats what you’ll find in Boston,” says Nate Gross, medical director of Rock Health, who’s been helping successfully run the incubator program in San Francisco for the last year.
Rock Health will be launching in Boston this June, but is already on the lookout for teams who are using technology to combat healthcare problems.
“It’s pretty obvious for us that Boston is a mecca for health care innovators,” says Sarah Pollet, Rock Health’s COO, who’ll be spearheading Boston’s 12-week summer program. “Many of these people are interested in engaging in the digital health movement.”
Each team who’s admitted into Rock Health will receive a zero equity, $20,000 startup grant and office space at Harvard Medical School in the Longwood area, along with mentorship, workshops and operational support.
Jason Jacobs of RunKeeper, Ben Rubin of Zeo and Jacob Sattelmair of WellFrame are among some of the local entrepreneurs who’ve already agreed to serve as mentors for the program. The Boston teams will also be able to benefit from the mentors working in San Francisco. Frank Moss, former director of the MIT Media Lab and co-founder of Infinity Pharmaceuticals, has been participating in the San Francisco program, but will also be mentoring in Boston, as well.
Gross says they’ll be hosting several lectures per week focused on specific questions for the healthcare market, such as FDA approval and HIPAA. They’ll also hold classes on social media, which might come as an afterthought to some of the more technical entrepreneurs. He stresses, however, “The startups are here to build companies, and we don’t want to be in the way of that,” so they’ll be there to lend a hand whenever they can.
Mayo Clinic and Harvard Medical School doctors are helping vet through the applications, so once startups come in, Gross admits, “we’ll know they’ve already run the gauntlet.” The only thing Rock Health insists is that teams have a technical co-founder. Beyond that, though, Gross says, “We try not to fix the terms too much up front, because we expect to be surprised,” referring to the former head of design for Posterous and LinkedIn who’s already taken part in the San Francisco program.
Whether or not Rock Health will remain in Boston after the summer is unknown. Gross admits that because there’s so much of an academic movement here in the city, the team needs to see how academic seasoning plays into the incubator movement. What Gross can say, however, is that Rock Health’s “really excited to work with the local community.”
If the program’s benefits weren’t incentive enough, fun fact: Cambridge-based startup Ginger.io acquired Pipette, a Rock Health alum that uses mobile phones to monitor patients’ conditions, back in March. Who knows? Maybe your idea could be acquired next. To apply, click here.