Start-up accelerator aims to bolster Israel-Maryland healthtech ties

"In the first round of the program, we have selected a target industry of medical devices and digital health technologies, which are uniquely strong in Israel and Maryland."

 Maryland/Israel Development Center Executive Director Barry Bogage  (photo credit: Courtesy)
Maryland/Israel Development Center Executive Director Barry Bogage
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Fifteen Israeli start-ups will embark next week on a joint Israeli-American effort to accelerate their access to the lucrative American health market.
The medical and digital health-technology companies will join MarketReach America, a start-up accelerator initiated by the Maryland/Israel Development Center (MIDC), based in Baltimore, and the Israel Innovation Authority, which helps guide Israeli companies in fitting demands of the American market.
“In the first round of the program, we have selected a target industry of medical devices and digital health technologies, which are uniquely strong in Israel and Maryland,” said Barry Bogage, executive director of MIDC.
“We’re splitting the program into two parts, bring certified trainers to Israel for what I consider the classroom part of the training. Later, the entrepreneurs will come to Maryland to do ‘customer discovery,’” said Bogage.
Maryland is a particularly attractive destination for medical start-ups as it is home to world-class academic centers Johns Hopkins University and Medical Center, and the University of Maryland. It is also home to the headquarters of the National Institutes of Health, the US Food and Drug Administration, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
In addition, the important biohealth policy that could significantly affect medical companies is made just nearby, in Washington, DC.
“There is a special entrepreneurial development training program that the US National Science Foundation uses to train American scientists to become entrepreneurs, called I-Corps,” said Bogage.
“And there’s a popular book called The Lean Start-up, which has popularized the whole concept. What our program is going to be doing is delivering that I-Corps methodology to Israeli entrepreneurs, so that they don’t make the same mistakes that previous generations of entrepreneurs have made.”
The initial training period in Israel will commence on Sunday, and the companies will travel to Maryland for two weeks in mid-May to meet potential customers and corporate partners. During the intervening weeks, companies will continue to be guided through regular Skype mentoring and training.
“The customer discovery section is about getting out, meeting potential customers and identifying, down to the individual’s name and phone number, who they really need to know,” Bogage said.
“We researched incubators and accelerators, and very often they are based on no more than mentoring. Mentoring can work and be enormously valuable but, a lot of times, depends on whether the mentor and entrepreneur click and how much time the mentor has to contribute,” he added.
“This is a methodology, however, that doesn’t just give them theoretical knowledge but also gives them potential customers.”