Israeli digital health start-ups feeling at home in Houston

"We needed to find places where Israeli ingenuity could have a comparative advantage and willing partners," said Sharon Shapira, Start-Up Nation Central's Digital Health Sector lead.

July 14, 2019 02:20
1 minute read.
An aerial shot of Texas Medical Center, Houston

An aerial shot of Texas Medical Center, Houston . (photo credit: TEXAS MEDICAL CENTER)


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Treating 10 million patients every year, delivering a baby every 20 minutes and employing over 100,000 people across 52 hospitals and health institutions, Texas Medical Center (TMC) is the largest medical complex in the world.

The 5.4-square-kilometer medical district, located in the heart of Houston, is also home to an increasing number of Israel digital health start-ups, taking their first steps into the complex American healthcare system.

Facilitated by Tel Aviv-based Start-Up Nation Central, Israeli entrepreneurs have repeatedly been accepted to participate in TMC’s prestigious medical technology accelerator TMCx, located at the TMC Innovation Institute.

The four-month project provides companies with a shared workspace, a curriculum tailored to the entrepreneurs’ needs, guidance from industry leaders and access to the unrivaled facilities offered by TMC.

Start-Up Nation Central has partnered with Anat Zeidman, an Israel-born resident of Houston with extensive knowledge of TMC institutions and operations, to foster opportunities for Israeli companies.

“We needed to find places where Israeli ingenuity could have a comparative advantage and willing partners,” said Sharon Shapira, head of Start-Up Nation Central’s digital health sector.

“This was clearly not going to happen in Boston, New York or the Bay Area. Those places are already packed with Israelis, there’s tons of competition and really developed life-sciences hubs. But we found it in Houston.”

Tel Aviv-based learning disabilities screening developer GiantLeap and Beit Shemesh-headquartered personalized medicine start-up DosentRx, two recent graduates of TMCx, are currently commencing paid proof-of-concept trials and opening offices in Houston to be close to the hospitals and research centers.

Two previous accelerator participants, Haifa-based ultrasound diagnostic start-up Sonaris and Ramat Gan-based speech recognition technology developer VoiceItt, are in the process of deploying medical trials.

Joining the accelerator’s next cohort in August will be Haifa-based InnoSphere, founded by two Arab-Israeli engineers from Haifa and the developer of a personalized home treatment device for attention-deficit disorder.

“TMC is a good example of how Start-Up Nation Central builds a functioning bridge between Israel’s innovation ecosystem and areas where this innovation is needed and can make an impact,” said the organization’s general manager, Guy Hilton.

“We send innovation one way, and the organizations we work with come to Israel to experience the solutions here in a more holistic way.”

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