UCLA Health has launched a new innovation accelerator to help scale up startups that focus on using technology to bridge health equity gaps.
UCLA Health’s TechQuity Accelerator is looking for early-stage startups to apply to its first cohort, which launches May 1. The accelerator program was developed in partnership with BioscienceLA and UCLA Biodesign.
TechQuity is accepting applications on a rolling basis from pre-seed and seed-stage companies through March 31.
The four-month program will provide founders with personalized mentorship, access to clinical expertise and product development support. The program will culminate in a final pitch showcase featuring UCLA Health leaders and community stakeholders.
“Through technology-driven innovation, we’re targeting four thematic areas – prevention, diagnosis, treatment and community impact—and although this effort began in response to COVID-19’s impact on under-resourced communities, we’re building it to be sustainable, to provide better health security beyond the pandemic,” said Jennifer McCaney, executive director of UCLA Biodesign and assistant director of the UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute.
There are other efforts underway to help digital health startups reach low-income, diverse populations. S.O.L.V.E. Health Tech is a health equity incubation partner embedded within the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and focuses on adapting health technology for Medicaid and other vulnerable populations.
In December, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) also launched the PandemicX Accelerator program to leverage data and digital tools to tackle health disparities. Fifteen digital health startups were chosen for the four-month growth program, which includes curriculum, mentorship and partnership opportunities.
UCLA Health’s TechQuity Accelerator will support local communities by improving the quality of health care, expanding access to care and creating new tech-driven career opportunities, according to Johnese Spisso, R.N., president of UCLA Health, CEO of UCLA Hospital System, and associate vice chancellor of UCLA Health Sciences.
The accelerator program will focus on inclusive technology that will accelerate health equity with an emphasis on prevention, or digital tools and devices that reduce risk through education, monitoring, automation or vaccination, and diagnostic devices or accessories that focus on rapid, accessible and scalable testing.
The program also will emphasize innovation in treatment, with devices and therapies that manage or relieve acute and long-term effects of COVID-19 and community impact, with digital platforms or tech-enabled services that increase health care access for vulnerable populations.
Dr. Medell Briggs-Malonson, chief of health equity, diversity and inclusion for the UCLA Hospital & Clinic System and a specialist in emergency medicine, said the accelerator aims to rapidly address the economic, health and safety risks intensified and highlighted by the pandemic.
“In addition to meeting health needs in communities most heavily impacted by COVID-19, we’re striving to support a more diverse life science workforce by expanding career-building opportunities for individuals from underrepresented backgrounds,” Briggs-Malonson said.