Cleveland Clinic partners with Silicon Valley accelerator to pilot digital health startups

Cleveland Clinic building
The Cleveland Clinic plans to pilot six tech innovations each year through a new accelerator. (Cleveland Clinic)

The Cleveland Clinic has launched a three-year partnership with two technology startups—including one with deep ties to Silicon Valley investors—with a focus on developing new innovative healthcare tools.

The partnership, announced on Monday, includes Cleveland-based JumpStart Inc., which provides support for startups in Northeast Ohio, as well as Plug and Play, a renowned Silicon Valley accelerator that bills itself as the “world’s biggest startup accelerator,” investing in more than 150 startups each year, including names like PayPal and Dropbox.

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The new initiative, known as the Cleveland HealthTech Accelerator, will focus specifically on digital health technology. Beginning this spring, the accelerator will launch two cohort programs that whittle hundreds of startups down to 10 companies every six months. The Cleveland Clinic plans to partner with six of those companies each year to pilot new technology in the healthcare system. 

“We are excited to work together to attract large companies, small companies, entrepreneurs, investors and future employees to come together to advance healthcare innovation," Brian Donley, M.D., Cleveland Clinic chief of staff, said in an announcement. “Bringing this activity to our region will help continue the growth of our healthcare-based economy, leading to new treatments for our patients and patients around the world.”

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Cleveland Clinic Innovations Executive Director Paul O’Neill told the new partnership is “a really, really big deal in our world.”

We can declare ourselves the medical capital all day long, but the external validation means everything,” he said.

Earlier this month, the former head of Cleveland Clinic Innovations pleaded guilty to defrauding the medical center out of $2.7 million through a shell company. Last week, the government brought charges against a second person affiliated with the program. 

Hospitals around the country have taken a similar approach to innovation, albeit without assistance from an established company with Silicon Valley connections. Last year, Boston Children’s Hospital formed an accelerator which has produced three startup companies so far. In August, Hackensack Meridian Health sunk $25 million into a technology incubator built in the image of ABC’s hit show “Shark Tank.”