This past spring, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center collaborated with Techstars Healthcare Accelerator to develop an innovation incubator that enabled new technology companies to work with physicians and staff members to refine their products. During the three-month program, clinicians and staff members selected 11 companies out of about 500 that applied to mentor to develop new clinical and financial applications.

Now, the facility is beginning to craft another incubator program to start in January, with 10 to 12 available slots and applications being accepted until October 15. Clive Svendsen, PhD, director of the board of governors at the Regenerative Medicine Institute, the stem cell research unit of Cedars, expects more than 500 applications again this year.

Coming from the research side, Svendsen is excited about newer companies bringing novel insights to the clinical side, particularly big data projects to support personalized medicine.

Svendsen’s unit researches ways to take stem cells from adult patients and turn them into heart, brain or muscle cells for others. While continuing work at Cedars, Svendsen also is working with an innovative vendor, Deep 6 Analytics, which examines data in an electronic health records system and uses algorithms to aid in selecting suitable patients for research projects.

Cedars-Sinai researchers and clinicians learned an important lesson during the first incubator program. Svendsen says he and others now have a better feel for the level of commitment needed to mentor new companies. “We’ll be better prepared for the amount of time it takes to help.”

Start-up companies hoping to be picked for the 2017 incubator need to do some homework before submitting applications, Svendsen advises. “We’re looking for good management teams, real innovation and a good fit for Cedars-Sinai.” Vendors need to get their elevator pitch right and clearly have the right people in place who really understand the product and associated issues, he adds. “It has to grab attention, be innovative and be disruptive.”

Participating vendors also need people with the right skill sets to move a project forward. “If there’s a gap, we can help, but the ideal company has all the pieces in place; the only thing missing might be strong knowledge of the healthcare space.”

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