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Computational Health Incubator Opens in Seattle

Synthetic biology

(Gerd Altmann, Pixabay)

21 May 2021. A new business accelerator program is underway to nurture start-up companies applying computational techniques to the life sciences and health care. The initiative is a partnership between Creative Destruction Lab, or CDL, and University of Washington, residing at the university’s business school in Seattle.

CDL-Seattle is the organization’s third location in the U.S., joining Atlanta and Madison, Wisconsin. CDL, based at University of Toronto, helps seed-stage science and tech start-ups get traction with mentoring, technical advice, business development assistance, and networking with financial sources, including angel and venture capital investors. Last year, a panel from Washington’s Innovation Roundtable, a group formed to expand creation of tech start-ups, evaluated five different incubator models and chose CDL as the best option.

CDL focuses its locations on specific technologies that the organization calls streams. In Seattle, CDL’s program specializes in computational health, and draws on resources at University of Washington’s engineering and computer science schools. In addition, CDL-Seattle is aided by the region’s technology industry, including participation by Microsoft Corp. The Seattle program is seeking start-ups creating solutions that cross traditional technology and biomedical boundaries, such as biomedical signal processing, computational modeling, machine learning, and health informatics.

“Think of computational health as a powerful tool in unraveling a complex, big data puzzle,” says Washington business school faculty fellow Emer Dooley in a statement. “Whether it’s mapping the immune system, mining population health data to address inequity, or helping optimize individuals’ health care, AI (artificial intelligence) and ML (machine learning) are essential tools. Washington state has incredible cloud computing, AI and ML expertise and a vibrant biotech sector.”

Immersive experience, but no equity stake

Dooley was one of the Innovation Roundtable panel members that chose CDL, and now leads CDL-Seattle. Bill McAleer, founder of Voyager Capital, was also on the selection panel, and is joined by four other investors, who committed to getting CDL-Seattle off the ground.

While CDL brings budding entrepreneurs together with investors, the program does not invest in participating start-ups, which Dooley says is one of the reasons the panel chose CDL. “There’s nothing wrong with taking an equity position,” notes Dooley, “but imagine the incentive to early-stage, cutting-edge companies of an immersive experience like CDL-Seattle.”

Frank Hodge, dean of Washington’s business school adds that CDL-Seattle offers students “a highly experiential, hands-on entrepreneurial education and opportunities to work with start-ups in an objectives-based accelerator.” Applications are being accepted until 30 July 2021 for CDL’s next program round for its core and specialized technology streams. Because of the pandemic, all session are currently conducted online.

Science & Enterprise reported previously on two CDL-incubated companies: AmacaThera in January 2019 creating a non-opioid surgical pain therapy, and Validere Technologies in August 2016, developing devices for first-responders to determine at the scene the chemical nature of spills at traffic or industrial accidents.

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