MassChallenge Launches New Digital Health Venture in The Fenway

If you were to rank the heroic organizations of The Fenway area, the Red Sox may not be at the top of the list. With all due respect to the home baseball team, that distinction would be shared among the many health organizations—including Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Brigham and Women’s Hospital—that make up the adjacent Longwood Medical and Academic Area. For years, the various hospitals and research institutions of Longwood have been visible on the world’s stage for their respective groundbreaking medical achievements.

As such, it’s no surprise that MassChallenge is moving inbound from the Seaport to The Fenway to launch PULSE@MassChallenge, a new technology-focused healthcare incubator. They chose Hatch Fenway to house up to 40 early stage businesses because it empowers growing, innovative companies to be successful sooner in a dynamic community, with room to expand within the neighborhood. PULSE@MassChallenge will occupy the entire 8th floor of Landmark Center, encompassing more than 8,000 square feet of the original site of Sears’ industrial hub, built in 1929. With Hatch as the nucleus, MassChallenge hopes PULSE will bring together the disruptive ideas, and the smartest technological and medical minds to further solidify the city as a leader in cutting-edge healthcare.

“It’s become an epicenter for healthcare innovation around the world,” said Scott Bailey, managing director at MassChallenge, of The Fenway neighborhood. “And it’s important for us that entrepreneurs have the opportunity to walk across the street and engage with the community and vice versa.”

Bailey added The Fenway is the perfect place for the operation, not only due to its proximity to the vaunted Longwood Medical Area, but also to a number of world-class colleges and universities, “which provides opportunities for talent development.”

But PULSE is shaping up to be more than a mere meeting of the minds. Given how stringently regulated the healthcare sector is, startups in the field are often faced with a “unique set of challenges” when it comes to launching, growing and cutting through red tape. “PULSE will serve to help these young entrepreneurs navigate these roadblocks,” added Bailey.

“Engaging with PULSE@MassChallenge not only provides access to the state’s entire healthcare community, but also offers the programming, mentorship and technology resources needed to help startups succeed.

The project was born of a partnership between MassChallenge and the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership (MACP), a nonprofit public policy group made up of executives from some of the state’s largest businesses, including Suffolk Construction and Vertex Pharmaceuticals. PULSE will get an additional boost from a $250,000 state grant, the result of the state seeing the value in leading the charge and “plant[ing] a flag in this space,” according to Bailey.

Asked whether MassChallenge and MACP would pursue any other ventures in the future, Bailey didn’t offer any specifics, but said they will remain committed to helping startups grow. To that end, the arrival of PULSE also coincides with the announcement of MassChallenge’s 2016 finalists. The annual competition, now in its seventh year, will see young companies from around the world compete for more than $1 million in grants and prizes. But for now, Bailey said, they’re “focused on supporting digital health startups through PULSE.”

“There continues to be growth in the number of startups that are looking to grow their ideas and we plan to continue to identify ways to maximize their access to resources to help them grow and succeed,” said Bailey. “Although we have these initial partners, we know it takes a village to build a company and we want to welcome others in the community to join us in helping make a major difference for entrepreneurs.”


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