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NKU launches Health Innovation Accelerator


HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. — Northern Kentucky University’s Institute for Health Innovation (IHI) launches SoCap Accelerate, a Health Innovation Accelerator for northern Kentucky.

The six-week program targets companies looking to solve a health problem in an innovative way who have a beta version of their product ready for testing. SoCap Accelerate will help these companies grow and scale their businesses. Structured around the resources in northern Kentucky and the needs of our communities, the goal is to make Kentucky a healthier Commonwealth.

“We are excited to start SoCap Accelerator here at NKU,” said Dr. Valerie Hardcastle, IHI executive director and vice president for Health Innovation. “Health innovation is critical to solve health problems that have been proven to have difficult or non-existent solutions. Looking at problems from a different angle often leads to a solution or a way to improve a current product.”

SoCap Accelerate will select up to seven companies to join the inaugural cohort this May. Participants will be mentored on developing customers and building a product as well as marketing, legal and accounting guidance. The program does not offer funding or equity, but is designed to help companies grow and consider the region as a destination.

“Northern Kentucky is a fantastic place to build a business, especially startups in the health innovation field. SoCap Accelerate will be the cornerstone of what we have to offer here- great resources, capital and strong partnerships to help companies scale,” said Rico Grant, managing director of SoCap Accelerate.

Last year, the Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration awarded a $731,250 i6 Challenge grant to build the Northern Kentucky Health Innovation Initiative. SoCap Accelerate is sponsored by the EDA i6 grant, along with support from St. Elizabeth Healthcare, the Durr Foundation and the Greater Cincinnati Foundation.

“This is a collaborative effort to support new innovations. Healthcare is the third-largest regional industry in northern Kentucky, and this program will support the growth we expect to see over the next decade,” said Dr. Hardcastle.

The IHI opened in 2018 to develop pioneering solutions to the health challenges facing the region. It drives change that directly addresses urgent unmet health needs. The Institute is housed in NKU’s newest building on campus, the Health Innovation Center.

SoCap Accelerate is supported by the Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration as part of an award totaling $731,250. Applications will be available in March.