Relevant Health, a Rockville-based start-up incubator focused on health technology, announced Tuesday its first class of companies. The companies will move into a co-working facility in Rockville from as far away as Latvia, where they will benefit from the incubator’s pool of software developers and mentors over the course of a five-month program.
“We didn’t want to just attract the best and brightest from around the region, we wanted the best and brightest from around the United States and elsewhere,” said managing partner Rich Bendis. “We have resources and assets that are one-of a kind in our backyard that really aren’t present elsewhere.”
Each company gets a $50,000 investment from Relevant, which in return gets an 8 percent ownership interest in each start-up.
The bulk of the funding comes from Montgomery County Economic Development and Biohealth Innovation, Inc., offering a mix of public-private money earmarked for technology innovation.
Relevant Managing partner Andy Richman says Bethesda has a natural network of contacts for a health technology company. What is often lacking is product experience, people with means and know-how to bring an idea to market, he says.
“In D.C. there’s a lot of technology expertise, but there isn’t the same level of product experience that you get in places like Silicon Valley and Boston,” Richman said.
He sees the incubator’s role as educating entrepreneurs on the nuances of product development.
Three of the first seven come to Bethesda from outside the D.C. area. The incubator requires that companies relocate full-time, but doesn’t lay down any specific requirements about what that means.
Meet the seven start-ups.
The Baltimore-based company is working on a platform that predicts a senior’s likelihood of falling, in order to identify better ways to treat each individual patient.
Once developed, the platform would pick up cues from sensors in a mobile device, analyzing abnormalities in the way users walk.
Originally from Latvia, the start-up is developing an interactive computer-guided system, like a computer game, meant for childhood speech therapy. The platform will use 3-D webcams to analyze a child’s facial patterns as part of the therapy process. A stated goal of the app is to make speech therapy cheaper for parents by automating the process.
The Rockville-based company is trying to develop a wearable app that can track and assess workers’ risk of developing lower back injury. The wearable hardware device would track body movement and analyze the data in cloud-based platform.
The Gastro Girl
Founder Jacqueline Gaulin started Gastro Girl as a blog focused digestive health. Now, the founder wants to broaden the site into a technology platform that will connect those with gastrointestinal health problems with information and advice.
Founded by a group of healthcare informatics consultants, the D.C.-based start-up is working on a product meant to simplify reporting requirements on hospitals and health providers. The company wants to make it easier for healthcare professionals to measure and report information about the quality of care, which are increasingly required under numerous federal and state benefit programs.
New York-based Neopenda is working on a wearable product that will monitor the vital signs of newborn babies. At-risk infants, such as those born premature, need closer monitoring than typical newborns. The app is meant for neonatal care facilities in the developing world where health resources are harder to come by, and the company’s founders recently tested the product in Uganda.
The Bethesda-based start-up is working on a nutritional coaching app for women with high-risk pregnancies – those with complications such as gestational diabetes or high blood pressure – that can offer dietary advice. Founder Catherine Jones is a trained chef who wrote a nutrition book for pregnant women.
An earlier version of this post incorrectly said the start-ups would be going though a five-year program. Actually, it is five months. The post has been updated.