For Immediate Release - June 15, 2017

Baker-Polito Administration Awards $250,000 for Massachusetts Digital Health Innovation Labs

Grants will offer continued support for Digital Health Innovation Labs in Springfield and Boston

Boston – June 13, 2017 – Today the Baker-Polito Administration awarded $250,000 to Digital Health Innovation Labs in the Massachusetts Digital Health Initiative, a second round of funding that will provide $170,000 to support the PULSE@MassChallenge digital health hub in Boston and $80,000 for Baystate Health’s TechSpring technology innovation center in Springfield. Both organizations received previous state funding through the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative’s (MassTech) eHealth Institute last year and provide support for digital health start-ups, including mentoring, strategic partner matching, targeted education, co-working spaces, start-up accelerators, and other programming.                    

“The Digital Health Initiative and our investments in these lab spaces will ensure Massachusetts can continue to be a leader in advancing technological innovation, economic growth for our residents, and better health care opportunities for patients around the globe,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We look forward to continuing our work with the Digital Health Council and the advancements that will come from their collaboration with the growing number of digital health firms in Massachusetts.”

In January 2016, Governor Baker launched the Massachusetts Digital Health Initiative to strengthen Massachusetts’ digital healthcare cluster and increase innovation in patient care. The initiative is a comprehensive public-private partnership established by officials from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, City of Boston, and executives from the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership. Last year, the Governor also led an Economic Development Mission to Israel, focused on bolstering the Commonwealth’s global economic ties and ability to lead in digital health and cybersecurity.

“Massachusetts is home to world-class hospitals, medical research institutions and universities that play a vital role in the future of healthcare,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Massachusetts has the ability to continue to attract this growing sector, shaping the future of the healthcare industry and creating new job opportunities for residents across the Commonwealth.”

Governor Baker made the announcement during the PULSE@MassChallenge Finale event at Boston’s Wilbur Theater, the celebratory closing event for the class of 31 startups that participated in PULSE@’s inaugural accelerator program.

These new awards are a key piece of the Commonwealth’s digital health “Marketplace Program,” an effort which aims to build stronger ties between the region’s digital health innovators and healthcare customers, leading to more rapid development and deployment of promising digital health technologies, leading to more rapid company formation and growth.

“Both of these organizations are having real impacts when it comes to growing the digital health sectors in Eastern and Western Massachusetts,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash. “We’re excited not only for the economic potential that these digital health startups hold for Massachusetts, but also the potential of their innovations to impact patients around the globe.”

"This has been an extremely fruitful public-private partnership and highlights what is best about the Commonwealth, with our world-class health care institutions, biotech firms, and technology companies all playing major roles,” said Tim Connelly, CEO and Executive Director of MassTech. “It’s also a benefit having two leading institutions like MassChallenge and Baystate Health to partner with us on the Initiative. We’re excited to engage with them to rollout the Marketplace program and to continue the success of this partnership into year two.”

During his remarks at the PULSE@MassChallenge Finale, the Governor praised the 31 digital health startups that completed the inaugural program, which concluded with three firms taking home roughly $200,000 in cash awards provided by MassChallenge. The 31 PULSE@MassChallenge startups in the program worked collaboratively with local ‘Champions’ such as Vertex, AARP, MGH, Harvard Pilgrim, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the City of Boston, to develop solutions to some of healthcare’s greatest challenges. The PULSE@ program started with an applicant pool of 439 interested companies, representing over 30 states and 20 countries, which was narrowed down to the 31 participants.

"There is no better place for startups to drive the future of healthcare than in Massachusetts, where many of the world's top hospitals, corporations and payors call home," said Scott Bailey, executive director of North America for MassChallenge, who also serves on the Massachusetts Digital Health Council. "We're thankful for Governor Charlie Baker's continued support of PULSE@MassChallenge and his efforts to strengthen our entrepreneurial community at large."

"TechSpring is making good progress in connecting broad stakeholders within the Western Massachusetts healthcare innovation ecosystem and other key players in Eastern Mass.,” said Joel Vengco, vice president and CIO of Baystate Health, founder of TechSpring, and a member of the Digital Health Council. “We are thankful for the collaboration with Governor Baker’s administration, MeHI, and the PULSE network who are bringing the best of the Commonwealth together.”

“When we first launched the Digital Healthcare Initiative nearly four years ago, I never imagined we’d see such tremendous support from both the public and private sectors to make Massachusetts one of the leaders in digital health,” said Dr. Jeffrey Leiden, M.D., Ph.D., chairman, president and CEO of Vertex, who leads the Initiative on behalf of the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership. “The excitement and participation in this first year of PULSE sends a clear signal that we’re on the right track. I’m looking forward to seeing these start-ups from PULSE grow into the next wave of Digital Healthcare companies in Massachusetts."

“Digital Health Initiatives improve healthcare quality and create economic growth in this robust tech sector,” said Senate President Stan Rosenberg. “It’s great that Western Massachusetts is part of this healthcare revolution.”

“Massachusetts residents and organizations are known worldwide for their brain power and industrious spirit,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo. “These traits uniquely position the Commonwealth for global leadership in the digital healthcare sector. MassChallenge has proven itself to be an economic engine for Massachusetts, and I thank them for taking the lead on this important and exciting initiative. The House has been proud to partner with MassChallenge and Mass Tech Collaborative through the Bay State Business Link and we’re pleased that the Baker Administration will direct funds from our 2012 cost-containment law to these worthy institutions.”

“What an exciting time for the Commonwealth and for our digital health innovators who are pioneering and strengthening partnerships between our tech, government and healthcare sectors to provide higher quality service for patients,” said Senator Linda Dorcena Forry (D- Dorchester). “This program provides our residents with world-class patient care by helping build a robust digital medical landscape.”

“Baystate Health’s TechSpring is supporting and facilitating the growth of innovations which will make our health care system more efficient and accessible,” said Senator James T. Welch (D - West Springfield). “This grant funding will allow the innovators at TechSpring to build on the work they’ve been doing and ensure Springfield has a strong foothold in the emerging digital health industry.”

“Supporting the Baystate Health’s TechSpring healthcare innovation center is key to keeping Springfield as a regional player for future digital Health care companies starting or moving to Massachusetts, thanks to the Baker administration,” said Representative Carlos Gonzalez (D – Springfield).

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About Mass Digital Health:

Launched in January 2016, the Massachusetts Digital Health Initiative is a comprehensive public-private partnership to accelerate the competitiveness of the Commonwealth’s digital healthcare cluster. The Initiative brings together leaders from technology, health care, and government to address gaps in the digital healthcare ecosystem. The Initiative is led by a collection of collaborating organizations from both the public and private sectors, including the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership (MACP), the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (EOHED), the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS), the Massachusetts eHealth Institute at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MeHI), the City of Boston, MassChallenge, and TechSpring. Learn more at MassDigitalHealth.org.