Twelve leading Israeli mHealth startups visited Boston on May 19th as part of an Israel Digital Healthcare Delegation organized by the New England Israel Business Council, the Government of Israel, and the BIRD Foundation. The companies are considered some of the best innovators coming out of Israel, often called the “Startup Nation.” Some of the startups already have ongoing pilots both in Israel and in the U.S. and are ready to enter the market with innovative and tested solutions. The Boston portion of the trip,part of a larger trip with additional stops in New York, San Francisco, and the Silicon Valley, included a full-day visiting high-ranking health executives at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Partners Connected Health, and Massachusetts General Hospital TeleHealth Center.
Despite the early traction some of these companies already have in other regions of the country, all of the representing entrepreneurs understood that the Boston health ecosystem is something special, considering it a proving ground for their startups. The twelve participating startups included Consumer Physics, Healarium, Healthwatch Ltd., Kyma Medical Technologies, LifeOnKey Inc., MediSafe, Inc., medCPU, Medivizor, Sweetch, Telesofia Medical Ltd., Totally Inc. and Tyto Care.
Founder and President of medCPU Sonia Ben-Yehuda said, “what makes Boston unique is the sense that everyone in the region is focused on growing together and raising the proverbial bar of the healthcare ecosystem as a whole.” Her start up developed an EMR decision support tool and already has a New York City office with over 20,000 physician users.
The program also included a lunch panel with Joe Kvedar, Vice President at the Center for Connected Health, Steve Agular, Managing Director of Blue Cross of Massachusetts’ strategic investment arm Zaffre Investments, Yechiel Engelhard, CEO and Founder of Gecko Health Innovations, and Rob Greenglass, Founder of VC firm Waterline Ventures. The panelists provided their expert commentary on what it will take for the visiting Israeli entrepreneurs to be successful in Boston. The conversation focused around the need to establish collaborations with local stakeholders, including partnerships with other companies, consultants and patient advocacy groups who can help startups to reach their milestones and receive funding.
“I think Boston has many opportunities for digital health companies,” said Dana Chanan, the CEO of another impressive startup called Sweetch, a data-driven platform for large scale prediction and prevention of diabetes in pre-diabetes patients. “All the relevant stakeholders are located in one place and they seem ready to explore and embrace the digital health solutions to empower the patients and provide better healthcare in reduced cost.””
A cocktail reception at the Israel Consul’s home in Brookline capped the day and included an introduction by the BIRD Foundation on their funding program which awards up to $1M grants to US-based companies establishing collaborations with Israel. One of the past recipients of a BIRD Foundation grant is medCPU who established a partnership with the Cleveland Clinic in 2011.
“Israel has a thriving startup community like no other,” says Ben-Yehuda. “Perhaps it’s part of the Israeli fabric and the ‘we can do it ourselves’ attitude that has made Israelis so successful, or perhaps it’s the constant need to innovate.”
Robert Schultz has an MBA in Information Systems from University of Massachusetts-Boston and a BS in International Business from Northeastern University, where he served as Business Manager for the university’s largest student publication, The Northeastern News. Schultz is an experienced healthcare technology startup enthusiast who was involved with the patient monitoring company Aware Engineering through the MassBio MassCONNECT program.
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