Mass. Digital Health Initiative Unveils $26M Fund, Incubator Space

Massachusetts digital healthcare startups will have more resources to tap into, thanks to a new $25.8 million venture fund and an incubator space near Fenway Park unveiled today.

The venture fund, dubbed the Massachusetts Innovation Catalyst Fund, will invest in digital health companies that are based in the state or have significant operations here. The fund is managed by an affiliate of Boston-based Leerink Holdings, according to a press release. A recent SEC filing for the fund lists its executives as Leerink Partners founder and CEO Jeffrey Leerink, along with Leerink Transformation Partners managing partners Todd Cozzens and Jared Kesselheim. Leerink Transformation Partners is a growth equity fund established last year to invest in healthcare technology and healthcare services businesses.

The Massachusetts Innovation Catalyst Fund will invest in healthtech companies at any stage, as long as they have a Massachusetts presence or plan to relocate here, spokeswoman Heather Nichols said. She declined to name the investors in the fund, but said it’s a “mix of individuals and companies.”

The fund is part of a broader digital health initiative announced in January and backed by the state, the city of Boston, the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership (MACP), MassChallenge, and other stakeholders in healthcare, academia, and industry. The initiative was conceived by MACP and spearheaded by Jeffrey Leiden, a leader of the nonprofit MACP and the CEO of Vertex Pharmaceuticals.

The initiative’s goal is to boost the state’s digital health cluster by providing more resources to local healthtech startups and building stronger connections between companies, healthcare providers, research institutions, and government.

In addition to funding, another component of the effort is a new “innovation lab” for digital health entrepreneurs, which was announced in January and officially unveiled Wednesday afternoon. The lab includes 8,000 square feet of space within Hatch Fenway, a co-working office located within the Landmark Center owned by Samuels & Associates.

Startup accelerator MassChallenge is managing the digital health hub, called “[email protected]” The plan is to work with around 30 startups at a time, who will receive access to workspace, mentors, and other resources for free. The program is likely to last longer than the accelerator’s typical four-month sessions, but the exact length and other details are still being worked out, according to a statement from MassChallenge. It will likely seek the first applicants in late summer or early fall.

Participating startups will also have access to TechSpring, a healthtech innovation center run by BayState Health in Springfield, MA, the press release said.

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