Business leaders in New York's capital region, which includes Albany, Schenectady and Troy among other cities, are proposing a huge regional population health project and bidding for part of $500 million in state economic development funds.

The population health plan is a prominent piece of the proposal put forth by the Capital Region Economic Development Council in its bid for funding from the state's Upstate Revitalization Initiative, which will award $500 million to up to three of seven regional proposals.

Also See: Population Maven

"The Capital Region will launch a Population Health Technology Cluster that will transform healthcare in New York State and then be scaled nationally to help overhaul the U.S. healthcare system," council members said in their proposal to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

"Ten years from now, the Capital Region’s health-tech cluster will have played a critical role in improving the healthcare performance of the entire state by: dramatically improving the health of our residents and curbing projected state healthcare costs by 6-10 percent (saving $20 to $45 billion per year)," council members wrote.

They projected the initiative will create between 9,000 and 11,000 local jobs and $1.4 billion in GDP contributions during its first five years of operation.

Among other features of the cluster, the council highlighted possible partnerships using IBM's Watson Health Engine, and possible ground level innovations such as:

* Selecting a specific neighborhood to saturate with state-of-the-art healthcare solutions, sensors, telehealth devices, and wearables. This special economic zone would attract the world’s leading hardware and software makers to invest and deploy their latest technologies.

* Designing and launching neighborhood-wide behavior change competitions creating incentives for the design and participation in high-impact healthy behavior change programs such as smoking cessation and exercising.

* A targeted extension of the very successful New York Capital Region Research Alliance (NY CAP) program, with specific funding for healthcare tech- and healthcare analytics-specific research collaborations between area universities.

* Creation of a physical place for in-person collaboration between cluster partners and housing of cluster-related start-ups.

The cluster's backers estimate it will require between $500 million and $1 billion in private and public investments over its first five years, and recommends allocating between $100 million and $200 million in Upstate Revitalization Initiative funds to support project acceleration and scaling.

State officials expect to announce the winners of the funding grants later this fall.

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