Healthtech Arkansas has launched a new accelerator that promises at least two pilot projects with its network of provider partners in the state for program participants.

The organization has opened up a nationwide search for inclusion in its 2019 cohort of five companies and is looking for startups across three subareas: digital health software, connected medical devices and diagnostic platforms.

“There are a number of health tech accelerator programs around the country and a number of those are in partnership with specific health systems,” said HealthTech Arkansas Director Jeff Stinson in a phone interview. “Our point of differentiation is we’re the only program that I know of that guarantees those pilot projects with hospitals.”

Applications for the program are due April 30 and the cohort will be selected on June 30. The program itself kicks off in early August.

HealthTech Arkansas has partnered with Arkansas Heart Hospital, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Arkansas Urology, Mercy and CHI St. Vincent to select the companies and ensure the implementation of pilot programs.

Participating companies must have raised at least $500,000 in outside capital, have worked with other providers in the past and be ready to launch a pilot project on Day 1 of the program.

As for the question of why Arkansas for a healthtech accelerator?

Stinson readily admitted his own hometown bias, but pointed to the number of established providers who have joined Healthtech Arkansas to innovate with the help of early-stage companies.

Successful cohort companies, according to Stinson, will be those that can easily implement their product and figure out ways to measure and quantify its value to these partners.

While the initial pilots themselves are unpaid, there is the potential to expand the relationship to a commercial contract. Stinson said the accelerator helps cut through the scores of vendors looking to sell to providers by focusing on quality companies with the ability to immediately integrate with hospitals and medical groups.

“We’ve found HealthTech Arkansas to be a highly impactful way for us to identify early-stage companies with new healthcare technologies and engage with them in a way that delivers significant value to both our hospital and the companies,” Andrea Nelson, Chief Clinical Officer at Arkansas Heart Hospital, said in a statement.

Aside from the guaranteed pilots, cohort companies will be given educational sessions, connections with mentors and healthcare investors and $75,000 in upfront investment from HealthTech Arkansas in exchange for later equity in the form of a SAFE or convertible note. As part of the program, companies must also be willing to offer HealthTech Arkansas an additional $25,000 SAFE or convertible note.

The HealthTech Arkansas accelerator grew out of two previous programs in the state – Health InnovaAR and HubX-Life Sciences – and is meant to hone in on companies focused on the provider market with fully built-out and validated technology.

Programming at HealthTech Arkansas is funded through a grant from the public Arkansas Economic Development Corporation.

Stinson – who also manages Fund for Arkansas’ Future, the largest angel investment fund in the state – is also in the process of raising money for a HealthTech Arkansas investment fund which will be focused on seed and follow-on investments for accelerator companies.

Photo: akindo, Getty Images

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