AHN partners with Innovation Works to create ‘innovation hub’ for region’s life sciences sector

Christel Deskins

TribLIVE’s Daily and Weekly email newsletters deliver the news you want and information you need, right to your inbox. Allegheny Health Network has partnered with a business accelerator that will be headquartered at Bellevue’s Allegheny General Hospital Suburban campus. They are accepting applications for six startups to join the inaugural […]

Allegheny Health Network has partnered with a business accelerator that will be headquartered at Bellevue’s Allegheny General Hospital Suburban campus.

They are accepting applications for six startups to join the inaugural cohort.

AlphaLab Health, powered by Pittsburgh investment firm Innovation Works, will serve as an “innovation hub” for the region’s life sciences sector, AHN said in a recent news release.

The partnership has been financially supported by Pittsburgh universities, corporations and foundations.

The hub will offer member companies early-stage funding, mentorship opportunities, clinical resources and office and lab space when available and appropriate.

“AlphaLab accelerators specialize in helping great entrepreneurs build great companies,” said Rich Lunak, Innovation Works President and CEO. “Marrying our capabilities to AHN’s health care expertise will benefit founders who can test their concepts with clinicians, researchers and operational experts on an accelerated timeline.

This will result in better health care products and greater capital efficiency as they scale their businesses and find the right product-market fit.”

AlphaLab Health will also help participating companies navigate the regulatory pathway and manage other issues affecting their traction, Lunak said.

AlphaLab Health will initially focus on supporting four business categories: diagnostics, therapeutics, medical devices and health information technology, according to AHN’s news release. Companies selected for the formal cohort will receive investment from Innovation Works and AHN.

AHN has said it will pilot technologies that are developed through the partnership.

Other health- and life-science-focused startups could also be invited to share office space at AGH Suburban, giving them access to AlphaLab Health’s resources.

Those interested in applying to be part of the cohort can do so online through Oct. 25. According to AlphaLab’s website, interviews will begin in November. The program is scheduled to start in January and end in June.

The program is expected to operate in-person, but the website says organizers are prepared to begin the program virtually, depending on state and federal guidelines.

Lunak expects the hub to lead to the creation of hundreds of regional jobs.

“Starting a new company can be risky, especially in the life sciences field,” he said. “By providing seed funding, Innovation Works and AHN are helping to de-risk those businesses in the earliest stages, preparing them to attract talent and secure future investors.”

AHN said it is finalizing design plans for the AlphaLab Health hub, which will cost more than $2 million, said Dan Laurent, an AHN spokesman. When finished, it will include labs, offices and shared conference areas.

The Suburban campus, located at 100 South Jackson Ave. in Bellevue, has been a fixture in the community since 1912.

In 2010, the hospital’s inpatient units and emergency department closed, and Lifecare — a private nursing facility — closed in June 2019, allowing the facility to be more fully redeveloped. AGH Suburban’s urgent care clinic and outpatient clinics continue to operate.

“We believe AHN’s partnership with Innovation Works will spur further economic development in this region, and contribute to a stronger investment ecosystem for all health care entrepreneurs,” said Jeffrey Cohen, AHN’s Chief Physician Executive for Community Health and Innovation.

Cohen said he’s excited for what is to come.

“AlphaLab Health will be a leading resource for life sciences startups that want to build the next great innovations in our region, improving the quality and efficiency of care for patients,” he said.

Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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