Top 15 Health Startup Incubators in the US

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Developing a new healthcare product? Mahasweta Pal, freelance science writer on Kolabtree, provides a list of health startup incubators in the US that can help you successfully launch your product.

For a long time, Seattle, San Francisco, and New Jersey have been sprawling with health startup incubators and life sciences incubation spaces where founders rent laboratories, sterilization equipment, analytical expertise, and avail meeting rooms. Similarly, health startup incubators in Boston, Connecticut, and New Jersey have upped the provisions with invaluable services such as VC training modules and regulatory coaching.

The key development affecting the healthcare industry now is, whether multi-business healthcare conglomerates should bet on health startup incubators to harvest novel therapeutic technologies or self-incubate budding healthcare startups to sustain the challenges of research & innovation. In-licensing and co-development have long existed and propelled a massive healthcare startup revolution in the past couple of years. It is hard to ignore that between 2018 and 2019, the average series B funding for healthcare startups went up to $40 million.

Therefore, the horizons of the healthcare industry have a fresh hue of optimism and diversification. This has increased the possibility for any biotech or healthcare innovators to gain the experience of rewarding incubation space and get access to industry-leaders as mentors on the way to build successful healthcare companies. So, here’s a top list of the best health startups incubators in the United States that ensure founders have their best foot forward through their scale-up journey.

1. Thomas O. Daniel Research Incubator and Collaboration Center at Celgene

Before being acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb at the start of 2019, Celgene was considered as the most successful biopharma startup in the US. Celgene had always remained at the top of the game with regards to therapeutic development in rare diseases and cancer medicine. Its quest for disruptive biotechnology was bolstered hugely with the establishment of the R&D incubator dedicated to Celgene’s founder Thomas O. Daniel who led the company through its concept-to-scale out journey between 2006 and 2016. The incubation center was started at New Jersey in 2018 and remains a top choice for drug discovery scientists to build medical startups with transformational lab-to-market paths. Celgene’s Thomas O. Daniel Research Incubator and Collaboration Center pays the highest value to scientific intellectual property information and the rigors of maintaining a fully operational laboratory potentially could be at odds with typical co-working spaces. It comforts startups with the ease of lean experimentation practices without having any need to redesign workflow layouts at its 16000+ square foot facility. Applications are selected basis the therapeutic potential of products and the inherent scientific expertise of the startup’s leadership.

2. Novartis Biome

Besides being the global hub of treatment novelty, Novartis has escalated up the healthcare transformation arena by centralizing data science and technology at its core. Novartis Biome is a footprint of the global biopharma’s vast industry-wide transformation that has CEO Vas Narasimhan’s deep-seated vision for ‘data-based medicine’ at its core. This is one of the most transformational incubation facilities to be working under, which critically explores the vastness of applying Artificial Intelligence into medicine. Novartis has recently launched the HealthX World Series Challenges through which it’s selecting health-tech, digital health and AI startups. Biome visualizes startup acceleration as a partnering, technology revamping, and global establishment project wherein founders are selected only after they’re able to de-crystallize data science in medicine. Novartis has selected 5 new digital health companies recently that it will scale-up at its 5,500 square-feet Biome facility. The way Novartis has structured the Biome, however, is different in a big way: It is allowing startups to tap data from hundreds of its clinical trials — what Novartis calls a “digital sandbox” — to help or blow up the young companies’ ideas about how their technology could work in real-life settings. This data sharing is already functional through a company — Veta Health — which is using Novartis’ data on heart failure particularly after being released from a hospital in better disease & lifestyle management.

3. Illumina Accelerator

One of the most successful breakout companies in genomics, Illumina, started its own accelerator program out of its registered office at Foster City, California. Every year, it selects a batch of 5 startups that focus on diagnostics, synthetic biology, forensics and therapeutic technologies to undergo a rigorous 6-month or one-year growth acceleration program at its facility. Illumina Accelerator provides financial investments, tailored business strategy mapping, technology advancement, pitch development and venture capitalist-oriented training for concept-stage upstarts through to their series A stage. One of the key highlights of the funding + acceleration facility is that Illumina retains 8% equity in each startup throughout its lifetime. The most interesting thing to note here is, Illumina selects startups even if they’re not coming up with their business model at the time of application. So, this makes them a hot choice for biotech startups. Applications are accepted through a dedicated website and also through email.

4. Bayer CoLaborator™

As a leader in life science innovations, Bayer invites expert scientist-founders to bring groundbreaking therapeutic technologies to the fore that take treatment novelty to the next level. It is a prized healthcare incubator facility that constantly assists scientists with the business and legal side of treatment discoveries through its well-established global network. The biggest offering that’s game-changing is startups get ample flexibility while working in the leased lab-spaces without worrying about R&D failures. Primarily based out of San Francisco, the global healthcare conglomerate invites applications from biomedical research and healthcare informatics founders to be incubated over 6-months, one-year, or multi-year periods with long-term partnership options. Currently, Bayer CoLaborator is accelerating startups invested in seed technology, food chemistry, and biologics and has been running for 5+ years successfully. An interested scientist entrepreneur can easily get in touch with the Heads of CoLaborator at the San Francisco campus and get accepted through interviews.

5. Intuitive-X

One of the leading life science startup accelerators based out of Seattle, Intuitive X functions as a hybrid of tech accelerators like Y Combinator and startup studios like Pioneer Square Labs. The health tech incubator places a high emphasis on securing intellectual property protection early on and commits to supporting startups for a longer period of time. Currently, Intuitive-X’s portfolio includes medical device startups and digital health companies, along with an interesting line of brain-focused startups. Having had a good run since 2016 has ensured that startups gain strong foundations in healthcare technology handling, financial management, and critical intellectual property issues. What founders like most is that the incubation center is only interested in some percentage of equity and yet it offers life science companies the full independence to grow in their desired direction.

6. Blueprint Health

An off-beat healthcare technologies incubator facility, Blueprint Health has a portfolio of 60 companies that it scaled up from size 0 to make them successful sustainable business ventures in the healthcare IT space. The incubator has straightforward goals, transparent partnering processes and a well-defined revenue-sharing model that together transforms the fortune of digital health and medical device startups. Alumni from Blueprint Health elucidate how deeply the incubator ingrains the startup with an all-performance culture that goes beyond usual goal-setting to build mature companies ready to face all forms of competition in the industry. The biggest reason which defines the success of the startups is the massive network Blueprint has all over the United States. One of the key specifics of the incubator is its standard agreement with interested founders over 6% founder’s shares. Interested digital health innovators should be aware of the policies before applying.

7. AstraZeneca Open Innovation Incubator at Boston BioHub

As a startup, there’s nothing better than being incubated and mentored by a global big pharma company, and AstraZeneca’s BioHub incubator is an example of just that. AstraZeneca’s cutting-edge therapeutic research faculty looks to incubate healthcare startups that brings breakthrough discoveries in oncology, cardiovascular, autoimmune or neurovascular diseases through novel drug discovery technologies. The hub provides access to specialized biomedical research laboratories, collaborations with scientists from AstraZeneca R&D team, mentorships in research & innovation, business development, and legal expertise. Applications are accepted all year round from ambitious drug discovery startups led by expert PhD-qualified scientists. The incubation programs accept applications through their dedicated website.

8. Commercialization Center for Innovative Technologies (CCIT)

One of the key divisions of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, CCIT houses one of the biggest incubation facilities for life science businesses over a span of 46,000 sq. ft. in a dedicated biotech research park. Known to be an integral part of the New Jersey’s “Research Corridor”, it provides biotech businesses innovative workspace solutions for up to 8 scientists to work individually. The Center also lets scientist entrepreneurs access commercialization training and the inbuilt “plug and play” research laboratories. The best part is NJ’s Bioscience Center is surrounded by other entrepreneurial ventures, which has helped to form a community of entrepreneurs to grow together using a host of shared services such as conference rooms, sterilization capabilities, etc. One of the prime reasons why entrepreneurs prefer this Center is because of its central location, with easy connectivity to New York City and Philadelphia on one side and the close proximity to Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and Princeton University. Here is the application link.

9. The Institute for Life Science Entrepreneurship

Another sprawling life science business incubator in New Jersey is The Institute for Life Science Entrepreneurship (ILSE), which has emerged as an efficient incubation facility for healthcare companies. Besides providing rented office space, ILSE is known for its extensive network of healthcare innovators ranging from technology solutions to drug development expertise. The ILSE has a partnership with major academic, non-profit, and corporate organizations, providing consulting expertise through a network of R&D service organizations. ILSE houses the ATCC Center for Translational Microbiology, which focuses on cutting-edge research in the microbiome, advanced microbial genomics, clinical MDR antibiotic resistance, and bioinformatics. New Jersey is fast becoming a hub of entrepreneurial breakthroughs, especially ILSE which has been facilitated by the State government through research grants. Budding science entrepreneurs can start applying to this technology accelerator directly.

10. Alexandria LaunchLabs

Mapping a sustainable development model is a key issue for healthcare startups and that requires highly efficient planning and resource-management from the start. Alexandria LaunchLabs specializes in this aspect of business incubation. Essentially, every healthcare startup’s journey is incomplete without focusing on sustainability and profitability. Alexandria LaunchLabs was created by a consortium of world-class partners to fill a specific unmet need in the market for early-stage life science companies. More importantly, Alexandria focuses on a 25% reduction in energy consumption and a 10% reduction in potable water consumption which makes the healthcare startups the most environmentally compliant companies. Alexandria LaunchLabs is based at Gaithersburg, Maryland.

11. New Jersey Business Incubation Network

In New Jersey, early and mid-stage startups have the luxury of choosing New Jersey Business Incubation Network which is one of the most promising startup incubation centers offering critical R&D pathway support. The NJBIN provides startups with flexible laboratory spaces while enhancing opportunities in licensing, developing and clinical testing. The NJBIN assists early and mid-stage companies achieve their expansion growth strategy through grant applications, business plan development, and completion of major milestones needed to attract investors and business partnerships. What’s more, NJBIN incubators get access to human capital—students and faculty members for internships and collaborations, besides paving the path for new product pipelines. Applications to the NJBIN are simple, an awe-inspiring entrepreneur can connect with NJBIN’s president Suzanne Zammit through email/phone.

12. New York Digital Health Innovation Lab

New York’s Digital Health Innovation Lab is a decade-old enterprise, currently operating as a partnership between the New York City Partnership Fund and NY’s eHealth Collaborative program. This accelerator program is focused on raising startups in the health tech-eCommerce-consumer health domain. Some of the brands developed here are clinician-focused health apps, while others are medication management apps for patients. One of the companies incubated here is Clinigence which raised $18.81 million recently and merged with iGambit – a popular chronic disease management service. The cherry on the cake is that founders get exposure to large insurance companies like Aetna which is one of NYDHIL’s prized partnering institutions.

13. Hartford MedTech Accelerator

Hartford, Connecticut based MedTech Accelerator aims to invite 10 health tech startups for a three-month period to build digital health products that eventually lead to profitable health technology businesses. The MedTech Accelerator was launched as a partnership between Trinity College’s downtown campus at Hartford, Hartford HealthCare, University of Connecticut School of Business and CTNext, the state’s startup support organization. This is one those healthcare accelerators that offer cascading product development and management guidance to young techies as well as enable them through the VC fundraising journey through its vast network of investors, corporates and educational institutions. The Accelerator program aims to create technologies that directly impact healthcare payers and insurers. Students and founders applying to this medical device startup Accelerator program can get exposure to Hartford Hospital’s training center as well.

14. UConn Technology Incubation Program (TIP)

Connecticut has been buzzing with scientist-entrepreneurs lately, because of its increased acceptance of budding life science and medical startups growing out of its own incubation facilities. One of them is the TIP accelerator program that assists founders with wet and dry laboratory spaces of up to 1000 sq. ft. and full access to UConn’s libraries. It allows scientists to collaborate and also facilitates research using animal models, cold washer rooms, sterilization equipment, and increased power storage. Scientists get assistance in conducting research, grant proposals, state funding, as well as in technology licensing. In case a founder is looking for some business planning guidance, here’s a Startup Guidebook by the UConn TIP which can be quite useful.  Applications to the TIP are currently open.

15. Princeton Innovation Center BioLabs

This is easily among the largest life sciences incubation centers in the United States, spanning an area of 31,000-square-feet and focused on developing innovation assets in cancer medicine. Princeton BioLabs resides in the hub of biotech research at New Jersey and supports founders from the academic community to launch and scale their companies to the point when they forge a strong market presence. The biggest support Princeton Biolabs provides is connecting new scientists with established bio-capital financiers, angel investors and key pharma market regulators to increase the feasibility of launching products. The center is less than a year-old and already has a portfolio of drug discovery startups spanning solid tumors, immunotherapies, monoclonal antibody development and protein therapeutics. The application process starts by emailing and getting shortlisted, after which selected scientists can view available space, meet the whole team, and sign a facility use agreement.

The healthcare space is one of the fastest growing sectors today, as data analytics and AI continue to push the industry forward. Having the backing of health startup incubators is invaluable in receiving funding, mentorship and marketing support.

Looking for help developing your healthcare product? Consult biostatisticians, medical device experts and medical writers on Kolabtree.


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About Author

Mahasweta is a Biotechnologist at heart with varied academic research experiences in Tissue Engineering, Medical Imaging Devices and Industrial Microbiology. She majored in Biomedical Engineering from Vellore Institute of Technology and has served as an editor for journal publications in Elsevier, Wolters Kluwer Health and Royal Society for Chemistry. She also writes for Company blogs, news articles and guest posts.

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