Hackensack Meridian Health launches technology incubator built in the image of ABC’s 'Shark Tank'

A compass pointing to the word "Innovative"
With $25 million from Hackensack Meridian Health, a new innovation lab will focus on health technology. (Credit: Getty/Olivier Le Moalz)

One of the largest healthcare providers in New Jersey has launched an innovation lab influenced by the popular reality show “Shark Tank” where startups pitch their ideas to a panel of venture capitalists.

Hackensack Meridian Health and the New Jersey Innovation Institute—a subsidiary of the New Jersey Institute of Technology—announced the opening of a new health technology incubator last week called Agile Strategies Lab. The health system sunk $25 million into the lab that will serve as seed money for companies building new devices and technology aimed at improving patient care, lowering costs and enhancing the patient experience.

Replicating Shark Tank’s approach to startup funding, a panel of experts at the incubator has already heard pitches from 10 new companies, four of which will be selected to receive funding from the lab and the opportunity for real-world testing in the clinical setting. Those pitches include a new wearable device to track vital signs and a new device to lower surgical risk, Robert C. Garrett, co-CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health wrote in an op-ed for NorthJersey.com.

“The new lab will help inventors obtain patents and help bring to the bedside leading innovations more quickly,” Andrew Pecora, M.D., chief innovation officer and president of Physician Services at Hackensack Meridian Health said in a statement. “Keep in mind, this isn’t just about life sciences, this is information technology, best practices—it’s anything you can think of that makes the health care experience, from beginning to end, better.”

Garrett added the lab's objective of using novel technologies to overcome some of the challenges facing the healthcare industry "isn't theoretical, it's happening."

RELATED: Q&A—BJC HealthCare's innovation lab will focus on process improvement over apps and gadgets

Healthcare innovation centers have become a trend among large healthcare systems over the last several years. Most recently, BJC HealthCare partnered with Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis to launch the new Health Systems Innovation Lab, and recruited Thomas Maddox, M.D., a former national director at the Department of Veterans Affairs to run the institution.

Other systems, like Providence St. Joseph Health, have plucked executives from big-name consumer outfits like Amazon and Microsoft to oversee venture capital initiatives and drive investment in new digital health solutions.