Houston’s TMCx Accelerator Hosts Debut of Digital Health Startups

Xconomy Texas — 

Houston—TMCx, the Texas Medical Center’s accelerator, presented a dozen digital health startups in its second annual demo day Thursday.

The companies showed off a variety of innovations, including apps and digital dashboards for better managing patients with chronic diseases (Sensely) and those needing mental health care (Valera Health), tracking developmental milestones in children (Qidza), and making hospital procurement more efficient (Greenlight Medical).

Others companies included one that developed software to prevent health record theft (Cognetyx, formerly Secure Healing), and a “surgical valet” that coordinates care across the perioperative process (ePreop.)

Half of the companies hailed from Texas, with California representing the largest out-of-state home base for the remainder. Erik Halvorsen, director of the TMC Innovation Institute, said that, in total, the companies have raised $18 million in venture funding and that two had received acquisition offers in the four months of the program. “We’re really pleased at the unbelievable speed at which they’re progressing,” he said.

In January, TMCx announced that thirteen companies would be part of the first cohort of this year’s accelerator. (One company, TowerView Health from Philadelphia, decided to defer its acceptance to next year, TMC said.) Applications for the second cohort—one focused on medical devices—are currently being accepted. Bill McKeon, TMC’s executive vice president and chief strategy and operating officer, said they have so far received 200 applications for about a dozen spots. (While TMCx ran just one accelerator class last year, for 2016, TMCx is splitting that class into two cohorts—one in the spring and one in the fall.)

In addition to the TMCx companies, the innovation institute introduced the audience to two companies that have emerged from its year-old Biodesign Fellowship. The program aims to essentially flip the innovation process around. Instead of entrepreneurs coming to medical centers with an idea that needs validating, the fellows work directly with healthcare providers to discover needs that they as entrepreneurs can help solve.

One of the companies, called Nightingale, has created an app to help hospitals retain nurses. The second, Intuitap, has created a medical device that it says can perform spinal tap procedures more accurately. “This procedure has not changed in 100 years,” says founder Jessica Traver. “Our tactile sensors can detect the underlying vertebrae—it’s like a stud finder for the spine.”