In the past six months, the MassChallenge HealthTech (MCHT) program experienced both unprecedented change and growth. The 2020 cohort was one of the strongest to date, earning more revenue and funding from the previous year’s cohort, creating jobs, and launching numerous pilots with our industry Champions while also providing MCHT with its highest NPS to date (88 NPS). All of this was accomplished with the added complexity of navigating a global pandemic.
Over 350 applicants from around the world applied to the 2020 MassChallenge HealthTech (MCHT) accelerator program last fall. After a rigorous judging process, 27 of the top digital health startups joined the 2020 cohort after receiving and accepting over 100 partnership offers from MassChallenge HealthTech Champions. Throughout the six-month program, these startups would work closely with their Champion partners to accelerate their innovations and received resources, feedback, and mentorship from the MCHT team.
Then the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit the United States. The HealthTech team and 2020 cohort faced unprecedented adversity and demonstrated amazing resilience through the program: the HealthTech team pivoted quickly in late February through early March to design a completely virtual and equally impactful second half of the 2020 program. Continuing to work closely with their Champions in the program, many of the startups experienced huge successes both within and outside MassChallenge.
Typically, we would have celebrated the end of our program with a community-driven Finale event. While we are very sad to not be able to host Finale and celebrate our cohort in person this year, we are excited to announce that we will be hosting a virtual Finale + Application Launch event on Thursday September 10th from 3:30-5:00PM EST. We hope you can attend and celebrate the success of our startups.
On behalf of the HealthTech team, we are extremely excited and proud to announce the top three winners of the 2020 program:
Diamond Winner Presented by Vertex Pharmaceuticals
Walk With Path (London, UK): Walk with Path acts to improve quality of life for the growing aging population and reduce healthcare costs.
Platinum Winner Presented by WeHealth Digital Medicine
Moving Analytics (Los Angeles, CA): Moving Analytics has developed Movn, a virtual rehab service that supports patients with cardiovascular disease.
Gold Winner Presented by Accenture
MedFlyt (Forrest Hills, NY): Medflyt offers a cloud-based, web platform and mobile app that changes the way home care agencies are matching caregivers with patients at home.
Additionally, due to the pandemic, MCHT increased its $250K prize allocation to $300K and distributed those funds per the cohort’s request across all companies to support pilots and economic recovery. If you are interested in supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs, consider giving a gift of any amount to MassChallenge Healthtech or sponsoring an award at MCHT Finale 2020.
We’ll be announcing additional awards during our upcoming Finale + Launch event to learn about the Women in Digital Health, Startup’s Choice, and Champion of the Year award winners on September 10! The winners will also sit down with their Champions to discuss their progress in the program—learn why these companies were the best-in-class for 2020.
Are you curious to learn about what happened during the 2020 program in more detail? Learn more about what transpired, how we adapted our program, and what success our startups achieved!
The Beginning: In-Person Experience
The 2020 MassChallenge HealthTech cohort at Orientation.
Back in January, MCHT kicked off programming both internally and externally with Orientation and Opening Night. At Orientation, the startups met their fellow cohort members and the MCHT for the first time. They learned about the resources that would be available to them throughout the program and heard from a panel of alumni on tips for how to get the most out of the experience. The panel included Amanda Bakerlee, Chief Product Officer at Medumo; Caitlyn Kjolhede, Senior Director for Clinical Programs at DynamiCare Health; and Arun Buduri, founder and President at Pixm. During Orientation, each startup also met with their Champion(s) to begin to form relationships and set goals for the next six months.
At Opening Night, the digital health community had the chance to celebrate the beginning of the program and meet the new cohort in a science-fair style showcase. MassChallenge CEO Siobhan Dullea gave opening remarks, highlighting that 48% of the cohort were female-led startups. Chris Lloyd from JP Morgan (our Opening Night host) and Mariya Filipova from Anthem, Inc also gave remarks and noted their excitement around collaborating with digital health startups through the program.
As February rolled around, MCHT hosted the first curriculum workshop for the cohort, which centered around managing partnerships. Other curriculum topics throughout the program included the AMA Digital Health ROI track, Together.Health Security Assessment Track (powered by Censinet), sales training from Nova Consulting Group, and the art of pitching from Kyle Rand of Rendever (2017 MCHT Gold Winner). The team also hosted a HealthTechies event to engage the digital health community, where attendees heard from a panel of innovators– including Tanina Cadwell and Franz Lawaetz of Vyasa Analytics, Karan Kashyap of Posh, and moderated by Jayakanth Srinivasan of Boston University– about how AI is powering the future of healthcare.
In March, about halfway through the program, the MCHT team, startups, and partners were on a roll. The startups were beginning to complete their first milestones with their partners, while the HealthTech team was in the thick of planning mid-year events, deciding whether to move virtual, and focusing on a strong finish to the second half of the program. COVID-19 hit, and everything changed.
Program Adapts to Virtual World
MCHT Program Director Nick Dougherty discusses the impact of the pandemic with panelists Charlotte Yeh, Juliette Kayyem, Margaret Bordeaux, and Vanessa Kerry at the COVID-19 Innovation Summit.
COVID-19 disrupted programming in unprecedented ways. Suddenly everything became virtual; the startups and partners were working around the clock to adjust to the new normal, and the MCHT team was forced to completely rethink the remainder of the program on the fly. Despite this massive challenge, the MCHT team found themselves uniquely placed at the intersection of innovation and healthcare.
The MCHT team could not stand by. Their mission is to solve massive challenges through entrepreneurship and innovation around the world. Working with MCHT Champion MITRE, they launched the COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition (now with over 800 member organizations), launched a COVID-19 Innovation Survey in partnership with Accenture, Microsoft, and MITRE to bring hundreds of solutions (many MassChallenge solutions included) quickly to bring to the frontlines, and convened the innovation community through a series of events.
At the end of March, MCHT hosted the COVID-19 Innovation Summit, which had over 1,000 registrants and brought together the voices of 20+ healthcare leaders and innovative entrepreneurs to discuss the pandemic response. This was the first of many virtual events centering around COVID-19 and the response of the innovation community.
While for many industries, this period represented a time of extreme hardship. However, the MCHT 2020 cohort, as well as the overall MassChallenge community, proved to be extremely resilient and managed to exceed expectations in every way. MassChallenge entrepreneurs worked around the clock to create innovative solutions addressing challenges created by the pandemic.
Success Stories Throughout the Program
From January to June, the 27 HealthTech startups worked closely with their Champions and saw some amazing results and successes both within and outside the program. Not all relationships can be made public, but here are a few examples:
- DynamiCare Health deployed their remote-enabled substance abuse recovery solution by March with their Champion.
- Health Note won a $20K grant from the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission and won best ROI Calculator for the American Medical Association ROI curriculum, supporting their ability to demonstrate substantial value to health systems.
- UDoTest secured FDA clearance to provide at-home testing for COVID-19 and is now facilitating thousands of tests daily across the country.
With over 100 partnerships at MassChallenge HealthTech, these are only a small selection of the wins from this year’s program. MCHT alumni also continued relationships with their partners to make a huge impact in the fight against COVID-19. For example, Buoy Health partnered with Boston Children’s Hospital, who leveraged Buoy’s AI platform to predict disease spread. Buoy also joined forces with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to offer free COVID-19 screening to residents based on guidelines from the CDC. In addition, OSF Healthcare, CareSignal, and GYANT joined forces to distribute COVID-19 guides, resources, and symptom tracking to members of the OSF Healthcare community.
Closing Out the 2020 Program
Zuby Onwuta [Founder and CEO of Think and Zoom- MCHT20 Cohort] and Allison Martin [Founder and CEO of UDoTest- MCHT20 Cohort] at Opening Night.
June is traditionally a huge month for the MCHT program. At the beginning of the month, the startups have the chance to pitch to a panel of industry experts during Final Judging. Each company receives feedback on their solutions, business models, and traction throughout the program while the judges ultimately decide the top winners of the program awards.
Usually, the flagship Finale event occurs in June to celebrate the end of the program and announce the cash prize winners. As a result of COVID-19, the HealthTech team made the tough decision to postpone the Finale celebration to the fall and reimagine the event virtually. The 2020 Finale celebration will take place virtually on September 10th from 3:30PM- 5:00PM EDT. Don’t forget to reserve your free ticket and get ready to celebrate the award winners and kick off the 2021 application season.
The 2020 program demonstrates that innovation can happen in a virtual world. MassChallenge HealthTech found that the community can truly address massive challenges. The team looks forward to continuing efforts to celebrate entrepreneurs and working with any innovator out there who wants to improve the world.