Chicago’s healthbox, a new health tech startup accelerator

April 22, 2011

Great news for Chicago's incubator/accelerator scene!  Saw this posting from today

HealthBox is expected to have web presence in the next month or so.

By Subbu Arumugam On April 21, 2011 
Chicago has an amazing health technology scene… the rest of the world just doesn’t know it yet. Chicago Health 2.0 / Tech is breaking the news about HealthBox, a new accelerator that will take its place alongside Rock Health in San Francisco and Blueprint Health in New York City.


It will be run by friends to the local Chicago startup community: SandBox Industries. They exclusively manage the BCBS venture fund which invests in technology and technology-enabled service companies.  They want to continue to stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship in the healthcare sector and help fill the gap in funding available for very early stage start-ups that aren’t quite ready for a Series A round of funding.

Nina Nashif, the Sandbox VP leading the launch of HealthBox, indicates that building a healthcare technology startup is challenging given some of the complex industry dynamics, and having access to resources and expertise in the healthcare space can be paramount to accelerating growth in a sector with notoriously long sales cycles.

HealthBox is assembling a group of strategic partners and mentors that will include large academic hospitals, industry insiders with operational and domain expertise, accomplished health technology entrepreneurs and general technology entrepreneurs.

The three month program will run in late 2011/ early 2012 with an initial group of approximately ten companies. There may be fewer or more, depending on the quality of entrepreneurs and ideas. Details are still being determined, but accepted companies will receive capital for equity – somewhere in the range of $35,000 to $50,000 USD. HealthBox isn’t placing restrictions on team makeup or company stage. You can be a single, non-technical founder with an idea. Of course, your chances will be better if you’re a team of diverse founders.

The net is being cast wide for a few reasons. HealthBox wants to gauge the landscape and see what’s out there nationally. They are looking for passionate entrepreneurs with great ideas. Also, HealthBox is not a “local” accelerator – it’s meant to spur innovation in the industry, not specifically Chicago, where the first class will be hosted. To that point, HealthBox is bringing on partners from all around the country.

HealthBox will provide its participating companies with shared legal and marketing services, business education, health industry education, the capital mentioned above, office space and mentorship – culminating in a demo day pitch before prospective investors. Companies will be accepted through one filter: can they make meaningful progress in three months? This will therefore most likely exclude pharmaceutical and biotech startups. Anything else is fair game. Think consumer health apps, and products servicing the various stakeholders in healthcare..

HealthBox is expected to have web presence in the next month or so. Follow our blog for information on when their website goes live.

On an editorial note, I expect this program to be awesome. SandBox has the experience and connections to make it so. They are an active participant in Excelerate, the TechStars Network accelerator in Chicago, an established early stage VC that incubates their own ideas and funds other entrepreneurs, and they operate the healthcare specific BCBS fund.


Subbu Arumugam is a co-organizer of the Chicago Health 2.0 / Tech meetup group and a co-founder of SugarSnap, a Chicago-based healthcare IT startup building a product to improve physician education.