How HCF Catalyst is driving innovation in health tech
Though Australian healthcare is envied by countries around the world, a growing and ageing population is putting strain on the system.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, $170 billion was spent on health in 2015-16 – up from just $95 billion, adjusted for inflation, in 2003-04. Around 406,000 visits made to a general practitioner (GP) on an average day, with 50 percent of Australians living with a chronic condition; chronic conditions are responsible for the most deaths in Australia.
Looking to drive efficiencies in the sector and improve healthcare for all Australians is not-for-profit health insurer HCF, through its HCF Catalyst accelerator program.
Now in its fourth year, the HCF Catalyst program is run in partnership with Slingshot, giving participants access to HCF mentors and hands-on resources such as funding, industry relationship-building, and strategic guidance to help turn their ideas into investment-ready businesses.
The HCF Catalyst has supported 18 Startups across its last three programs, with these businesses going on to raise a combined $9.5 million in funding so far. It has also worked with 11 Scaleups.
Sheena Jack, CEO of HCF, said, “Our vision for the Catalyst program has always been to support innovation in health care so we can drive better health outcomes for Australians. By continuing to support the latest technologies and innovative business models we can generate real life solutions for health issues that affect the wellbeing of our members.”
Here HCF is putting its money where its mouth is, working with a number of Catalyst alumni to test and roll out their products and services to HCF staff and customers.
BirthBeat, which took part in the third Catalyst program, earlier this year secured a partnership with HCF to bring its online antenatal education classes to market to provide accessible education for rural and busy families.
“We’re pleased that the majority of our graduates have been funded or are growing to a stage where they can trial their offerings with our members,” Jack said.
“The program’s graduates have demonstrated that they can help us provide more value to our members.”
HCF has also been working with Soldier.ly, a graduate of the third Catalyst program and creator of a smart device buddy system for at-risk veterans, to launch a staff pilot.
Chris Rhyss Edwards, CEO of Soldier.ly, said the Catalyst program transformed his business idea from a self-reporting app to a smart device app that detects signs of stress before the user is aware of them.
“I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in a program that provides mentoring, strategic guidance and infrastructure support to Australian entrepreneurs, like myself, who are looking to transform health care space,” he said.
“It was through the support from the HCF Catalyst program that I was able to turn my business idea into the Soldier.ly app.”
This year’s HCF Catalyst program is looking for Startups and Scaleups working across five themes: making health care more affordable, making health care more affordable, delivering high quality health care, making health care more customer centric, and supporting operational excellence in the HCF business.
The program runs across two streams, one focused on Startups and the other on Scaleups.
The 12-week Startup program covers business modelling, traction and customer insights, branding and marketing, financial modelling, pitch coaching, and raising capital. It helps Startups validate their business model, build a minimum viable product, and demonstrate progress to advisors and investors.
The Scaleup program, meanwhile, streamlines a Scaleup’s potential path to a commercial deal with HCF, whether this is a pilot to trial their solution with HCF’s staff or customers, a commercial distribution agreement, a vendor partnership, or investment.
Are you a Startup or Scaleup with a product or service that could drive better health outcomes for Australians? Apply for HCF Catalyst! Applications close on 23 November.
Image: Edwina Sharrock, Birthbeat. Source: Kat Rollings Photography.