A new innovation incubator will provide healthcare startups with funding, expertise, industry connections, and complementary office space in downtown New Haven, just a few blocks from the city’s universities and hospitals.
On Thursday morning, co-founders Sri Muthu and Donna Lecky announced the formal opening of the incubator, Health Haven Hub, out of the nonprofit’s new office space on the ninth floor of 195 Church St. at the corner of Elm Street.
Around 50 local politicians, doctors, academics, and healthcare businesspeople came out to celebrate the launch.
Funded in part by the Elm City Innovation Collaborative and $250,000 from the Innovation Places grant that the city received from CT Next, Health Haven Hub promises to provide a variety of advisory and material support for entrepreneurs with a kernel of an idea for a healthcare company, but who do not yet have the staff, space, connections or finely-honed pitch to get venture capital seed funding and turn their ideas into a reality.
Muthu said he and Lecky started bouncing around the idea that would lead to Health Haven Hub soon after meeting in a healthcare leadership program at the Yale School of Management (SOM), from which the two graduated in 2016. Muthu’s background is in financial technology. Lecky’s background is as a corporate tax attorney. Health Haven Hub’s new director, David Pearlstone, has spent 20 years working as a surgical oncologist.
Muthu said the nonprofit incubator will target three broad groups of entrepreneurs to support and help develop here in New Haven: students, international businesses looking to relocate to America, and other local and national healthcare innovators looking to “disrupt” the industry with a new device, better technology, or improved way of sharing information.
“This is a way to bring people together under the same roof,” Muthu said about Health Haven Hub. He said the working space will help foment an “intellectual density” among like-minded innovators who may not know how to get their ideas of the ground and feel siloed in their dorms, labs or current offices.
The three Health Haven Hub founding partner organizations are HealthVenture, a healthcare venture capital company rub by Muthu and Becky; Bridge Innovations, a medical device and health care technology accelerator that focuses on developing businesses that specialize in advanced minimally-invasive surgical instruments; and Origami Innovations, an innovation lab run by Yale medical school students that supports student entrepreneurs interested in developing their own healthcare technology businesses.
Muthu said student teams accepted into Health Haven Hub’s program will receive one year of office access for the space on the ninth floor of 195 Church. Non-student teams will have access to the office for a duration of weeks or months, depending on the business’s needs, Muthu said.
All Health Haven Hub teams will be able to pick the brains of Muthu, Lecky and Pearlstone about how to develop their pitch to venture capital funders, how to hammer out the details of their products, and how to find the right markets and needs for their products. Pearstone said the experts at Health Haven Hub will set up meetings between the businesses they are supporting and medical professionals at Yale-New Haven Hospital, academics and researchers at Yale, Quinnipiac University, Southern Connecticut State University, and other area colleges.
He said Health Haven Hub is currently in talks with companies from the Netherlands, China, and Israel about having them relocate to New Haven.
Muthu said teams supported by Health Haven Hub will receive anywhere between $15,000 and $500,000 of support.
City Economic Development Administrator Matthew Nemerson said Health Haven Hub will provide a critical meeting point for healthcare innovators who work and live in a small city like New Haven that doesn’t have the same quantity of opportunities as bigger cities like Boston and New York.
“These kinds of establishments designed to open doors turn out to be even more important in smaller communities,” he said. He praised CT Next as providing seed money for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial incubators, like Health Haven Hub and Collab.
Now that the money is in place, Nemerson said, cities like New Haven need organizations to provide the actual physical space and personal connections to get new businesses off the ground. That’s where groups like Health Haven Hub come in, he said, “dedicated to helping people find a desk, find an office, and make connections.”
Click on the Facebook Live video below to watch the full press conference.