Turning innovative ideas into actionable outcomes starts with building impactful relationships. Startups know this, but even the most successful ones wrestle with the challenge of developing federal agency connections that could bolster their business.
That’s why Chicago is setting the stage for an event that will drive collaboration between federal agencies and startups dedicated to health innovation.
Chicago is home to 26,000 healthcare-related companies and over 600,000 healthcare professionals. It’s also city headquarters for both HIMSS and Healthbox, partners in accelerating the transformation of health.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is well aware of the challenges associated with introducing innovation into government. Last year, I attended a meeting they hosted where their chief technology officer, Bruce Greenstein, led the discussion which spurred the evolution of HHS Startup Day.
The event, he described, would engage startup entrepreneurs and federal agencies to freely pitch ideas, ask questions and determine next steps for actionable outcomes.
“We hope that this will be successful and want to take it on the road,” he said. He then named several cities, such as Boston, San Francisco, Nashville, etc., but I was surprised Chicago wasn’t on his list.
At that point, I raised my hand and said, “What about Chicago?”
Bruce invited me to talk more with him after the event. Fast forward to 2018 and the idea has evolved into action. Following sold-out success in DC and Boston, HHS Startup Day Chicago will take place Thursday, May 24.
The event takes place at MATTER, located inside the Merchandise Mart building – a major hub for startup entrepreneurs and innovators residing in the windy city. Attendees will have the chance to observe pitches to facilitate the type of dialogue that might happen during a closed-room sale. It also provides a place for both startups and federal agencies to openly ask questions so that everyone in the room can hear the answers to them.
We’ve focused on identifying companies that have relevance to each of these different agencies, either as a customer or as a helpful resource to them. For example, if a company is facing challenges with regulatory processes, we’ll be able to connect them with someone there from the FDA who can answer their questions.
Beyond the important dialogue that will take place, the day will provide great networking opportunities. As a startup, more often than not, you’re going to need something to happen on the government side of things – whether it be payment reimbursement, regulatory around FDA, research funding, etc. – it always plays a role.
There has been a tremendous amount of entrepreneurial activity in the digital health space over the past seven years and there are no signs the market will slow down.
I think many of the entrepreneurs attending HHS Startup Day will discover that government isn’t a roadblock to innovation, but a helpful and willing partner to them in their journey. Federal agencies know innovation is the future and are here to support it. They see its value and are focused on driving it beyond the private sector. The important dialogue that will take place amongst these groups at HHS Startup Day Chicago should serve as a great primer for the future of health innovation.