The Florida-Israel Business Accelerator (FIBA) held its latest Connection to Innovation event Wednesday, welcoming a pair of healthcare startup founders as well as a familiar face in Rachel Feinman, the organization’s former executive director who earlier this year joined Tampa General Hospital (TGH) as vice president of innovation.
Hosted by FIBA co-executive directors Rakefet Bachur and Pam Miniati, the event was held virtually via Zoom. Miniati opened the program with an update on FIBA’s successes and highlights, noting that the organization has welcomed more then 60 Israeli startups into its accelerator program, helping many of them establish offices in Florida and connect with investors.
“To date,” she said, “we have helped our companies raise over $8.5 million. We also have two companies that have successfully done IPOs on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.”
Miniati, previewing Fineman’s appearance later in the program, also discussed FIBA’s recently established partner program and its inaugural partnership — with TGH.
“The model for this program is to work with a partner, an organization here in Tampa that has some real business needs,” she said. “We worked with the team [at TGH] and defined some business needs [for which] they are looking for solutions.”
More than 50 companies applied to the partner program, Miniati said. After a review process, the field was narrowed to seven. Those startups presented their solutions to hospital executives last week, Miniati said, and TGH is now in the process of deciding which ones they would like to move forward with in an eight-week program focused on improving the hospital’s outpatient physician office.
One of those companies, Docola, was represented at Wednesday’s event by its CEO, Eran Kabakov, who’s based in St. Petersburg. He described Docola as a “care communication platform” that allows clinicians to “curate or aggregate information that is pertinent for patient care and prescribe it through the web, within individual accounts, to patients.” The platform, he explained, provides “guided, step-by-step instructions that are made directly from your healthcare provider along the way. So you can go home and you can share it with your family and share it with your care circle, and you can effectively be a successful participant in your healthcare experience.”
Kabakov spoke highly of the Tampa Bay region as a place to do business, saying its weather and seaside location compare favorably to that of Israel, which borders the Mediterranean.
“When I landed here, I basically landed at home,” he said. “There’s a great community of Israelis already here, great support. The area is extremely conducive for startups, specifically, because of the costs of doing business and the amount of talent that’s available. The tech world isn’t looking at Tampa as they should, yet, but I think that Tampa is going to become a much more significant player in technology and digital health.”
The second presenter was Tal Rusak, founder of Nunetz, which he described as a platform for improving the way data is accessed and shared in healthcare settings. “There’s a disconnect between health care providers and data,” he said. Nunetz’s remote workflow engine, according to the company’s website, “integrates home, remote, clinic and hospital data for the benefit of front-line physicians and nurses. [It] is especially appropriate for patients at home or in an isolated unit in the hospital where contact should be minimized, as with coronavirus patients.”
Rusak said the Covid-19 pandemic, which overloaded many hospital systems, exposed the need for a platform like Nunetz’s, which helps health care facilities better organize their data so that throught and capacity can be expanded and scaled.
“The pandemic has been a terrible situation and we’re very sorry it happened, of course,” he said, “but it’s really established and helped people understand that some of these problems exist and that we need a solution to them sooner rather than later.”
Fineman concluded the program with an overview of her role at TGH InnoVentures, the hospital’s arm for investing in health care startups.
“The way we describe [InnoVentures] is an innovation center,” she said. “We are focused on partnering with and investing in companies that help to lower the cost of care. There’s always room for improvement around operational efficiencies as technologies improve. TGH wants to be a ‘learning lab,’ an early adopter and partner with companies where we have opportunities to co-develop and work with founders to solve big challenges in a challenging industry like healthcare.”