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Where Independence Blue Cross wants to invest its $50M innovation fund

"We're not looking for a silver bullet for our entire member base," said innovation director Tom Olenzak at this week's Mobile Monday event focused on mobile health. Instead, startups should think specifics.

The Independence Blue Cross building in Center City. (Photo by Flickr user @redjoe, used under a Creative Commons license)

Independence Blue Cross created a $50 million fund to invest in healthcare startups. But they’re not looking for one startup that can solve all healthcare’s problems, said Tom Olenzak, innovation director at Independence Blue Cross.

“We’re not looking for a silver bullet for our entire member base,” Olenzak said at this week’s Mobile Monday event focused on mobile health.

Instead, startups should think specifics.

The insurer wants to invest in startups that have a specific market in mind, he said. That shows an understanding that different kinds of people have different needs and issues.

“It’s very basic,” Olenzak said. “A lot of other industries have figured it out.”

Independence Blue Cross is also searching for companies that realize the importance of human interaction when it comes to healthcare — we can’t solve these problems with bits or data, like other tech companies can, he said.

It sounds like like healthcare innovation is very much like modern early-stage investing: make many small bets.

“Healthcare is messy,” he said. “It’s about individuals. … And that’s a very difficult business to scale, but it’s necessary.”

Companies: Independence Blue Cross / Mobile Monday
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