Fast-track boot camp seeks health IT ideas

Johns Hopkins will co-sponsor DreamIt Health Baltimore, a four-month boot camp early next year for entrepreneurs starting health information technology companies.

The project—called an "accelerator"—will speed promising new technologies to market by giving company founders intense business and health care training, mentoring, an injection of "pre–seed money" capital, and opportunities to meet key individuals from industry and government health care agencies in the Baltimore-Washington area.

The schedule is also accelerated: The application deadline is Nov. 11, participants will be chosen by Dec. 16, and the program will run from January to May. Applications are available online.

Though up to 10 startups will be recruited from around the world, some are expected to be from the Central Maryland region and others could decide to locate here after graduating from the accelerator.

The project's focus on companies in health-related information technology is important because that is a "fertile" area for innovation to make health care more accessible and affordable, says university President Ronald J. Daniels. It's also a strength of the Maryland economy.

"This accelerator project will have important implications for the future use of information as we use technology to find solutions for the most pressing health problems of our day," Daniels says. "Just as important, it sets up Baltimore to become even more central to the health care information revolution through the rapid validation of solutions."

Paul Rothman, the Frances Watt Baker, M.D., and Lenox D. Baker Jr., M.D., Dean of the Medical Faculty and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, says that sponsorship of the accelerator is in keeping with the Johns Hopkins tradition of innovation to solve health care challenges.

"Technology holds the potential to transform the way in which we approach health care in this country and around the world," Rothman says. "The partnership with DreamIt [Ventures] presents an exciting and unrivaled opportunity to develop the most cutting-edge solutions at the crossroads of information technology and medicine."

BioHealth Innovation is also a co-sponsor of the Baltimore program, which builds on a similar one in Philadelphia. The organizer is DreamIt Ventures, which since 2008 has run accelerators launching 127 companies in various industries.

DreamIt's manager on the ground in Baltimore will beĀ Elliot Menschik, a 1993 Johns Hopkins electrical engineering graduate with an MD/PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. He founded, ran, and later sold HxTechnologies, a medical imaging and health information exchange startup.

"DreamIt has considerable experience working with extraordinary people to create exceptional companies," Menschik says. "We've learned that, in health care in particular, the most important thing we can do to help founders and reduce investor risk is to enable access to resources typically out of the reach of most startups. Working closely with Johns Hopkins and [BioHealth Innovation] opens up stellar opportunities for these teams to pressure test and speed to market their solutions to significant problems that plague patients, providers, payers, and other industry stakeholders."

Potential DreamIt Health Baltimore participants can apply as individuals or as a company.