Ross School launches health care accelerator for student entrepreneurs

Ross School

The past year-and-a-half has shown how the health care industry needs impactful innovations. The new Pinkert Healthcare Accelerator at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business aims to support that innovation by helping students develop and launch their creative ideas for addressing major challenges in health care.

Managed in the Zell Lurie Institute at Michigan Ross, the Pinkert Healthcare Accelerator adds to the extensive world-class health care and entrepreneurial offerings available to Michigan Ross and U-M students. The accelerator provides student teams with grant seed funding; expert mentorship from U-M faculty, staff and alumni; and advising from a board of leaders in health care entrepreneurship and investing.

The new accelerator was created thanks to a dedicated fund included in a $5.4 million gift from Eleanor and Michael Pinkert. That gift also established the Pinkert Scholars Program, which provides full-ride scholarships for Michigan Ross Full-Time MBA students focused on health care. The accelerator is led by faculty director Mike Johnson and program director Anne Perigo.

“Thanks to this incredible gift from the Pinkerts, the Pinkert Healthcare Accelerator supports our amazing U-M student health care entrepreneurs working to solve big challenges and shows how Michigan Ross is leading in health care innovation,” said Johnson, an Entrepreneur in Residence at the Zell Lurie Institute and lecturer in entrepreneurial studies at Michigan Ross.

“Michigan Ross and U-M have a great set of entrepreneurial and health care offerings, and the accelerator is a unique opportunity for students starting innovative ventures.”

High-impact solutions for major health care challenges

Any Michigan Ross or U-M student who has an impactful idea for solving a serious need in health care—from targeting diseases to increasing access and reducing the cost of care—can apply to the Pinkert Healthcare Accelerator. The accelerator will have two application cycles each year, with each cohort capped at around 15 ventures to start.

After a rigorous evaluation process, ventures are accepted into the accelerator across three stages:

  • Vision: Students are working to clearly understand the need and to refine the value-creation hypothesis.
  • Test: Students have identified the unmet need and hypothesis for differentiation/impact of their solution and work to gather market feedback and evaluate the business model.
  • Launch: Students have developed a plan for value creation with milestones and are working to launch the business.

“We are looking for students who are passionate about fixing health care,” Johnson said. “That includes a variety of approaches with innovative technologies and care delivery models to address patient-care challenges in access, quality and cost.”

There were 13 student ventures accepted into the Pinkert Healthcare Accelerator’s first cohort, which ran during the 2021 winter term. Among the health care solutions those ventures addressed were: transitional aid for postpartum parents to ensure a healthy postpartum environment; inventory management to provide hospitals with real-time data on medical supplies; and a product that replaces plastic prescription bottles with a 100% recyclable solution.

Besides the new health care accelerator and the Pinkert Scholars Program, Michigan Ross also offers a Healthcare Management Concentration for Full-Time MBA students; dual degrees with the U-M Medical School and U-M School of Public Health; and health care-focused student organizations, such as the Healthcare & Life Science Club.

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