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Accelerating an Across-the-Pond Relationship

Cedars-Sinai, Techstars

Although separated by more than 5,000 miles, the Cedars-Sinai Accelerator Powered by Techstars and the MedCity DigitalHealth.London Accelerator in England are strikingly similar. Launched two months apart in early 2016, the programs share mirror missions of improving healthcare delivery and patient outcomes by helping digital-technology startups achieve marketplace success.

Representatives from the two organizations recently spent an afternoon in our Innovation Space to share wisdom and exchange ideas. MedCity—a collaboration between London's mayor's office and academic, research, and health institutions—promotes life sciences research and entrepreneurship throughout southeast England.

"We were delighted to host MedCity and pleased that the time we spent together was so productive," said James Laur, vice president of Legal and Technology Affairs at Cedars-Sinai. "We all walked away feeling that building this relationship will help drive and expand health-tech innovations in both of our countries."

"There's much to be gained by sharing learning and expertise as we try to successfully deploy digital technology into the healthcare setting."

"Patients ultimately will benefit," Laur added, "and that's the end goal for both organizations."

MedCity Chief Executive Officer, Sarah Haywood, who presented an overview of England's national healthcare system, said she looked forward to a building longstanding relationship.

"Health challenges are global, and the UK health system faces many of the same issues as Cedars-Sinai," she said. "We are keen to see this meeting as the first step in developing a strong relationship. There's much to be gained by sharing learning and expertise as we try to successfully deploy digital technology into the healthcare setting."

Budding health-tech companies are central to that digital deployment, and 8 such startups—4 Cedars-Sinai Accelerator graduates and 4 DigitalHealth.London Accelerator alumni—attended the event at the end of June.

"Part of the day was devoted to what we called 'Mentor Madness,'" said Omkar Kulkarni, director of the Cedars-Sinai Accelerator. Each DigitalHealth.London graduate was paired with 2 Cedars-Sinai mentors, and each Cedars-Sinai Accelerator alumnus was matched with 2 MedCity mentors.

"There were a lot of lively discussions, with mentors asking questions about the companies' offerings and companies seeking advice about doing business in markets new to them," Kulkarni said.

Stasis Labs graduated from the Cedars-Sinai Accelerator's inaugural class. The company's head of hardware development, Derek Nielsen, met with Haywood and MedCity's Chief Operating Officer, Neelam Patel.

"Talking with Sarah and Neelam opened my eyes to the many promising opportunities available to medical-device startups in the UK and across Europe, especially the potential to work with major health systems and some of the world's leading universities," Nielsen said.

The Cedars-Sinai Accelerator impressed one DigitalHealth.London alumnus so much that the startup submitted an application for the Accelerator's third cohort, which starts Sept. 12.