In Today’s Economy, Big Companies Search for Small Innovators

Independence Blue Cross, Comcast and others want to find — and maybe fund — health care innovations.

Yuriy Rudyy/Shutterstock

Yuriy Rudyy/Shutterstock

Entrepreneurs and innovators are gaining more and more power in today’s marketplace — and established players are not only taking notice but seeking them out.

Take health care for instance. Eight big players in the Philadelphia market are searching for the next innovators in the health care space. If the entrepreneurs show that they can solve serious health care problems, they’ll be given access to data, funders and get connected to hospitals to conduct pilot test programs.

Called the Health Care Innovation Collaborative, its founding members are:

  • Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania
  • Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
  • Comcast
  • Drexel University
  • Independence Blue Cross
  • Safeguard Scientifics
  • Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health System
  • University of Pennsylvania Health System.

The organizations committed $400,000 to launch the collaborative and hope to secure an executive director and start programing by the end of the year.

“Startup companies don’t always have insight into the problems larger companies are trying to solve, and larger companies don’t always have the focus to come up with creative solutions to problems,” said Dr. Steven Udvarhelyi, executive vice president of health services and chief strategy officer at Independence Blue Cross.

If successful, the program could make Philadelphia an even bigger hotbed for health care innovation and entrepreneurism.

“We’re trying to make Philadelphia an easy place for companies to start their businesses and a global leader in health care innovation,” said Udvarhelyi.

It’s important to connect health insurers and health care providers so they can figure out which lingering problems need the most immediate attention. Then, they’ll seek out entrepreneurs solving those problems.

“We can turn the region into a virtual test bed” by allowing entrepreneurs to use hospitals and health care companies to try out new products said RoseAnn Rosenthal, president & CEO at Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

 “When they’re looking for innovation, corporations recognize that they need to go outside themselves,” said Rosenthal. “The old model of just finding innovation from the inside is not sufficient.”