A new crop of startups will help advance Pittsburgh’s goal of becoming a life sciences hub.
AlphaLab Health — one of three startup accelerators run by Innovation Works — announced its second cohort of companies this week. The six month-program, which was originally formed through a partnership with Allegheny Health Network, focuses on growing companies in the life sciences or healthcare industries by providing them with resources for product development, customer insights and industry mentorship.
Each of the six companies included in this most recent cohort will receive up to $100,000 as pre-seed investment, and have the chance to be considered for further investment from Innovation Works as a portfolio company after completion of the accelerator (though the organization stresses that this is not guaranteed).
The news of the second cohort comes at an exciting time for life sciences in Pittsburgh. In the last few months alone, the Richard King Mellon Foundation announced a $100 million grant to the University of Pittsburgh for a new biomanufacturing center at Hazelwood Green, two companies have gone public and Carnegie Mellon University published a study with University of Pittsburgh on the use of artificial intelligence to limit hospital-acquired infections. Plus, just this week, medical regulation software company Rimsys announced a $16 million Series A round backed by Bessemer Venture Partners.
“AlphaLab Health wraps entrepreneurs with a network of clinical and business experts who know how to help them succeed in the complex health care system,” she said in a statement about the second cohort. “The program brings together all the strengths of IW and AHN and then adds in mentors, access to customers, clinicians with deep experience and domain knowledge, and other resources that can help these talented founders leapfrog past the challenges they would otherwise face.”
Representing diagnostics, therapeutics, medical devices, healthcare information technology and more, here are this accelerator’s startups, with descriptions provided by Innovation Works:
- MindTrace is developing technology that allows neurosurgeons to remove brain tumors and seizure-generating tissue, while ensuring each patient leaves the hospital the same person they were when they arrived, preserving personality and skills.
- Parcel Health creates innovative and sustainable medication packaging. More than 8 billion plastic prescription bottles are used annually in the United States, most ending up in landfills. Parcel Health provides eco-friendly medication packaging that is designed to be child-resistant and elderly-friendly, all while improving pharmacy workflows and reducing medication errors.
- Hale Therapeutics is on a mission to end one of the leading causes of preventable death; smoking. Through their consumer-facing device, they’ve combined smoking cessation science with an elegant full-stack solution to wean people off of nicotine. Hale’s connected medical vaporizer automatically and gradually reduces nicotine intake over time, helping people achieve their goals of quitting smoking better than current nicotine replacement therapies.
- Telling.ai answers the question “how are your lungs doing” by giving users a detailed lung performance report by simply speaking into a smartphone. The company’s vision is to turn every smartphone in the world into a powerful remote respiratory monitoring device through a simple app and that will improve wellness and prevent unneeded hospitalizations and ED visits.
- Naima Health is an interdisciplinary team developing the MyHealthyPregnancy app which uses decision science, machine learning, and maternal-fetal health expertise to help pregnant women minimize their risk of adverse outcomes — including preterm birth.
- Spoken helps people with aphasia or other language disorders speak again by predicting likely words and phrases. The company has taken the same machine learning algorithms that power a phone’s autocomplete function and applied them to much bigger data, giving suggestions that fit the context and improve with time. It’s a radically different approach to treating disabilities that aims to serve a growing global market.
Sophie Burkholder is a 2021-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Heinz Endowments.-30-