Innovation Blog

Help Solve Some of Healthcare’s Biggest Challenges with Our 2021 Champions


MassChallenge HealthTech (MCHT) is excited to kick off its fifth program year with the opening of 2021 program applications! Each year, the team matches high-impact, digital health startups with industry-leading Champion partners to collaborate on demonstration projects and strategic initiatives that help address some of the healthcare sector’s most intractable challenges.

A key focus of the Champions this year, observed through listening to the reverse pitch podcasts, is improving health equity. This is achieved when every person has the opportunity to attain their full health potential and no one is disadvantaged from achieving this potential because of long-standing health or social inequities (CDC). COVID-19 has laid bare many major systemic inequalities that impact the entire continuum of care – from access to care to racial disparities in healthcare, just to name a few. The Champions are looking to work with the next generation of game-changing startups that can help begin to tackle some of these challenges.

We hope that listening to the reverse pitches will inspire you to apply today or learn more about the HealthTech program. Don’t forget: applications are due on October 8, 2020 at 12pm EDT!

To connect with our Champions directly, we welcome you to join the virtual Finale and Application Launch Event on September 10, 3:30 – 5:00pm EDT. At the event, you will have the opportunity to meet and network with the Champions to learn more about their 2021 challenges as well as learn how to apply for the 2021 program!

The full list of our Champions’ 2021 challenges below:


AARP is excited to continue their 5-year relationship with MCHT this program year. Throughout the partnership, they have refined their engagement process with startups to allow for efficient and effective collaborations. Their mission is to empower people to choose how they want to live as they age by providing the resources to care for themselves and their loved ones. The main challenges they will be focusing on are caregiving, social isolation, mental health, and inclusive remote care.

Boston Children’s Hospital

The Boston Children’s Hospital Innovation and Digital Health Accelerator was founded in 2015. To drive healthcare innovation at Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH) and beyond, they typically partner with early-stage innovators, pre-seed through Series A. For 2021, the BCH team continues to focus their efforts on innovations looking to support the unmet needs of the pediatric patient population, especially given the strain COVID-19 has put on providers and patients alike. While they are open to partnerships across the spectrum of healthcare innovation, they are most interested in startups aiming to address the following issues: behavioral health – particularly solutions driving access to evidence-based care for the most common pediatric behavioral health issues; home-based care; social determinants of health; and artificial intelligence addressing both clinical and non-clinical use cases to improve patient care efficiency and reduce costs.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Brigham and Women’s Digital Innovation Hub (iHub) is excited to continue the spread of digital innovation through partnerships with MCHT startups. They look forward to collaboratively working toward pioneering breakthroughs that help improve lives, especially in the era of COVID-19. Their main focuses for this program year are to ensure cost-efficiency of operations, drive rapid value creation, and improve on COVID-19 care operations and recovery. Having spent over six years on the front lines of implementing digital health, the iHub has robust infrastructure and processes in place to enable pilots of market-ready digital solutions to meet hospital needs and drive mutual success.

City of Boston

The City of Boston has worked to harness the power of innovation as a tool for positive change. Their goal in partnering with startups is to continue to push forward initiatives focusing on sustainable community development while fostering economic inclusion and equity for all Bostonians. This year, they look forward to focusing on the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has had on the communities of color. They are looking for the tools and solutions to meet the needs of Boston’s older citizens and address the ongoing challenges of addiction, mental illness, and homelessness.

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, a MCHT Champion since 2017, is committed to their mission to improve the quality and value of healthcare for the communities and people they serve. With a goal to reduce the cost of care and improve the overall healthcare experience for their members, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care looks to partner with startups that bring novel and innovative solutions to the healthcare ecosystem. Together, their work can help address known challenges including the medical and behavioral health integration, greater accessibility to telehealth, and strengthening payer-provider integration to achieve better quality of care.

Massachusetts Commission for the Blind

Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB) is committed to working toward two priorities that need attention- particularly now during the COVID-19 pandemic. The first is an accessible online meeting platform, which is usable and universally designed for all. They are looking for a platform like Zoom or GoToMeeting, but which is built with accessibility in mind. As for the second priority, MCB would like to capitalize on the emergence of telehealth as a diagnostic tool that’s being used now more than ever to provide assessments and diagnostic services for the unique needs of their consumers who are blind and visually impaired.

Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services

The Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (DDS) is looking for startups that are committed to improving services for vulnerable populations, particularly with respect to the uncertainties presented by COVID-19. They are hoping to partner with startups cognizant of individual challenges for accessibilities to technology. DDS hopes to further develop remote services to allow for uniform accessibility, effective access to technology, and integration of systems to enable secure private information sharing.

MeHI (Massachusetts eHealth Institute)

The Massachusetts eHealth Institute (MeHI) will be sponsoring the Executive Office of Elder Affairs, Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, and the Department of Development Services as they collaborate with startups to provide support for vulnerable populations and family caregivers, advance health equity efforts, and reduce social isolation. Additionally, MeHI wants to partner with all the startup members of the MassChallenge HealthTech programs to introduce them to the Commonwealth’s robust digital health ecosystem and to the Digital Health Sandbox Network.

Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs

In the wake of COVID-19, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs is focusing on empowering and building up the resilience of older adults, their families, and the communities they live in. They are looking to collaborate with startups addressing social isolation and loneliness, mental and emotional health support, and improving technology accessibility to lessen the heightened technologic divide.

Massachusetts General Hospital

Massachusetts General Hospital continues to lead in the digital health space through their strategic alliances to develop new solutions and work with early-stage healthtech companies. While the COVID-19 pandemic has abruptly shifted the healthcare industry, and there is a dependence on virtual services, they hope this shift to virtual care does not create a technology divide that precipitates or worsens disparities in care. They aim to focus this year on virtual care solutions, equity in access to care, and the reduction of clinical burnout.

Massachusetts Health Policy Commission

The Massachusetts Health Policy Commission (HPC) is on a mission to achieve better health and better care at a lower cost for all people across the Commonwealth. This year, the HPC is interested in promoting health equity and tackling the challenges of improving maternal health and wellbeing for Black women, enhancing coordination among providers and social service organizations, and addressing patients’ behavioral health and social needs.


MassMutual is looking forward to collaborating with innovative startups to gain fresh perspectives and new solutions to help their clients and policyowners. Their challenge centers around comprehensive risk assessment while also maintaining a fast, seamless and non-invasive process for their clients. Furthermore, MassMutual is looking for a technical solution to convert unstructured data to structured data and focus on improving its distributions model to protect more Americans.

OSF HealthCare

OSF HealthCare launched OSF Innovation as a means to embrace change and take on the largest challenges facing healthcare. This year they are looking to partner with companies offering robotic process automation that will make all parts of their system more efficient and allow them to deliver the best possible care for their patients. Other areas of interest are social determinants of health, health technology solutions for behavioral health, and telehealth and remote monitoring solutions that will allow them to care for a wide variety of patients virtually.


Takeda is excited to continue their partnership with MassChallenge as they undergo a massive digital transformation. For the 2021 program, Takeda would like to collaborate with companies that have solutions to help patients with rare diseases get an early diagnosis, as well as startups with technologies that help detect sleep and wakefulness and/or sleep disorders in patients. Startups working with Takeda can expect the support of their massive worldwide organization, as well as their extensive portfolio and pipeline.


Vertex has an uncompromising commitment to helping their patients. They are excited to partner with innovative startups who match their energy to solve difficult problems in healthcare. Their main focuses this year include addressing the unmet needs in the diagnosis of rare diseases, leveraging data to better understand therapy outcomes, and helping serve their underserved patient communities.

WeHealth Digital Medicine

WeHealth Digital Medicine has been a MCHT Champion since 2016. They are excited to continue improving the quality of life for patients and healthcare providers through collaborating with innovative startups. They hope to work together to accelerate development and distribution of original digital tools for healthcare. Their main challenge areas are to reduce the re-hospitalization and maximize rehabilitation of heart failure and cardiovascular disease patients, reduce the side-effects and find personalized anti-cancer medications, as well as valorize data collection through AI and algorithms.


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