Mayo Clinic launches AI startup program to help early-stage companies get market-ready

Mayo Clinic launched its artificial intelligence startup program this week with four early-stage health tech companies.

The 20-week program, called Mayo Clinic Platform_Accelerate, aims to help AI-based startups get market-ready by offering access to Mayo Clinic experts in regulatory, clinical, technology and business domains with a focus on AI model validation and clinical readiness.

The program also features additional expert assistance from Google and electronic health records giant Epic.

"Health tech startups are critical contributors to the cycle of innovation," said John Halamka, M.D., president of Mayo Clinic Platform, in a statement. "We are excited to collaborate with these innovators to solve some of the most complex problems in medicine today."

Mayo Clinic says its AI startup program is different from other typical accelerator programs. Mayo Clinic Platform_Accelerate focuses on helping drive a company’s success with valuable in-kind investments—from data sets to validation tools and from mentorship to clinical workflow planning, the company said on the program website.

As part of this in-kind investment, Mayo Clinic Platform will take an equity position in participating startups based on most recent valuations or a convertible note or SAFE, the organization said.

The four participating companies will work with data science experts to delineate AI model requirements, check for fairness and bias in their AI models and gain an understanding of the Food and Drug Administration clearance pathways.

The startups also will gain access to de-identified Mayo Clinic patient data, conduct model validation with guidance from data science experts, plan clinical validation studies such as clinical simulation or clinical trials and explore the potential to partner with Mayo Clinic Platform.

Mayo Clinic said the four startups were chosen from a competitive process. The initial cohort includes Denver-based cliexa, which works to turn patient-centered data into actionable insights for people with cardiovascular conditions and multiple chronic diseases such as diabetes; Quadrant Health, a company that analyzes EHR and patient messaging data to triage messages and predict patient harm before it occurs; and Seer Medical, a company based in Melbourne, Australia, that aims to use data to refine and test its home-based epilepsy diagnostics and management models as well as to look for digital biomarkers to predict seizures.

The cohort is rounded out by ScienceIO, a data science company focused on organizing healthcare’s massive trove of data with AI and natural language processing.

"We are helping participants take a crucial step in their growth trajectory by providing startups with a disciplined focus on model validation and clinical readiness to show product value," says Eric Harnisch, vice president of Partner Programs for Mayo Clinic Platform. "The program is integral to our Mayo Clinic Platform mission to enable new knowledge, new solutions and new technologies that improve patients' lives worldwide."

A waitlist is open for the second Mayo Clinic Platform_Accelerate cohort, which is planned to begin in summer 2022.

In late 2019, Mayo Clinic tapped Halamka to run its digital health and artificial intelligence projects under the umbrella of Mayo Clinic Platform. It's a strategic initiative to improve healthcare through insights and knowledge derived from data. 

In January 2020, the health system launched its clinical data analytics platform as the first venture under the Mayo Clinic Platform. Through that platform, researchers apply advanced data analytics on de-identified data from Mayo Clinic and other organizations as well as the vast information in the scientific literature to advance medicine and improve the health of patients.

Last April, the organization rolled out a new technology platform connecting devices to AI algorithms for clinical decision support tools and diagnostic insights.

The health system has been ramping up its focus on AI, including via its 10-year strategic partnership with Google to use the tech giant's cloud platform to accelerate innovation through digital technologies.

Last year, the health system also teamed up with the Duke Institute for Health Innovation and the University of California, Berkeley to launch a collaboration designed to build an understanding of the AI software market and allow for its safe and responsible deployment, including of machine learning algorithms.