Noting that in 2020, less than 3 percent of venture capital funding went to companies with Black or Latinx founders, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts has launched a Health Equity Business Accelerator. The program will offer financial, strategic and mentorship support to founders of color focused on creating equitable healthcare services and solutions.
Accelerator participation includes a $150,000 investment, as well as nine months of tailored programming delivered in conjunction with partners like The Capital Network and Healthbox to help accelerate growth and foster innovation.
The Accelerator is being piloted with a small initial cohort of companies nominated by the broader healthcare and venture capital communities:
Bloomer Tech’s vision is to be at the forefront of solving major women’s global health issues, starting by tailoring cardiovascular health care to women using advanced fabrics technology and machine learning.
MedHaul is a cloud-based management platform for non-emergency patient transportation with a mission to innovate access and improve the quality of care in vulnerable communities.
Quality Interactions focuses on cultural competency solutions to improve health outcomes and has trained more than 250,000 health care professionals at the country’s largest hospitals, health plans and medical schools.
SoHookd is a digital wellness platform offering wellness-centric rewards, events, and challenges to health plans and employers.
TQIntelligence utilizes validated diagnostic tools, AI and voice recognition technology to enable therapists to make more accurate diagnoses faster.
Blue Cross and Healthbox will sponsor two Pitch Day events to increase visibility of participating startups with potential customers and investors. The first Pitch Day, planned for May 19, will offer cohort companies an opportunity for industry exposure and networking. Advisors will assist the startups in raising awareness of their offerings and creating long-term promotion strategies.
Blue Cross intends to use the 9-month program as a joint learning experience and is exploring ways to advance and expand the program moving forward. The company also recently announced an evolved community strategy focused on health justice.
“This is not a philanthropic act — it’s a good investment and business decision,” said Andrew Dreyfus, president and CEO at Blue Cross, in a statement. “By investing in these diverse start-ups, we’re able to help support the growth of businesses that are centering equity in their work and making advances in technology and services that will lead to improved health outcomes.”
Michele Courton Brown, Blue Cross’ vice president of business development and managing director of Zaffre Investments, added that the accelerator also reinforces the company’s commitment to addressing health inequities and racial justice and complements its longstanding supplier diversity initiatives.