Representatives of Highmark Health, Allegheny Health Network (AHN) and Innovation Works today joined community leaders in Bellevue to celebrate the grand opening of a state-of-the-art research facility based at the former AGH Suburban Hospital that will serve as an innovation hub for AlphaLab Health, a health care and life sciences accelerator launched by AHN and Innovation works in 2020.
Modeled after Innovation Works’ other successful accelerator programs, AlphaLab and AlphaLab Gear, AlphaLab Health cultivates promising medical technologies and other health solutions, offering start-up companies early-stage funding, mentorship opportunities from industry experts, clinical resources, and office and lab space. The collaboration is also supported by Pittsburgh-area universities, corporations, and foundations.
AHN is part of one of the nation’s largest integrated health and wellness organizations, while Innovation Works is one of the nation’s most active seed-stage investors.
The AlphaLab Health accelerator at AGH’s Suburban Campus is a 10,000-square-foot open-concept space fully equipped with advanced technologies and facilities, including wet and dry labs. The space also includes offices outfitted with dedicated server access that can be configured to a business’s needs and highly reliable and secure hardline connectivity, two conferencing rooms and three larger collaboration areas. The physical renovation of the space was made possible in large part by a $500K Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.
“While AHN has long been a leader in clinical research and innovation, AlphaLab Health is a transformative partnership that takes our commitment to an entirely new level and further elevates the Pittsburgh region’s profile as a wellspring of pioneering, game-changing ideas and solutions in health care,” said Jeff Cohen, MD, AHN’s Chief Physician Executive for Community Health and Innovation. “With the opening of this new facility, we now have an amazing space that appropriately complements the ingenuity and vision of the entrepreneurs we are supporting.”
The investment and repurposing of AGH’s Suburban Campus also breathes new life into a community asset that has served the community in a variety of capacities for more than 115 years. In 2010, the hospital’s inpatient units and emergency department closed, and a private nursing facility on the campus closed in June 2019. AGH Suburban’s urgent care center and several outpatient clinics continue to operate on the campus.
“Bellevue and its surrounding neighborhoods are very important to our organization,” said Cynthia Hundorfean, AHN President and CEO. “The opportunity to have this campus serve as a nexus of innovation and breakthroughs in medicine for future generations is something we were very excited to embrace. In the coming months, we look forward to announcing even more unique AHN health and wellness initiatives and programs that will be headquartered at this site.”
Twelve startup companies have already joined AlphaLab Health. Some of the remarkable projects underway include:
- Developing pharmaceutical products for the treatment of life-threatening symptoms associated with Cytokine Release Syndrome (CRS), an overreaction of the immune system causing systemic inflammation. – CytoAgents
- Developed securement devices that prevent damage and dislodgement of central lines and and dislodgement and feeding tubes. -GusGear
- Designing a consumer-facing medical vaporizer that automatically and gradually reduces nicotine intake over time, helping people achieve their smoking cessation goals. – Hale Therapeutics
- Developing an app that can give users a detailed lung performance report by simply speaking into a smartphone – turning smartphones into powerful remote respiratory monitoring tools and preventing unneeded hospitalizations and emergency department visits. – Telling.AI
Entrepreneurs participating in AlphaLab Health have access to the business expertise and mentorship network of Innovation Works, as well as up to $100,000 in seed investment. Selected from more than 200 applicants, the first two cohorts range from first-time inventors to experienced entrepreneurs and represent a variety of medical product categories including diagnostics, therapeutics, medical devices, and health information technology.
“AHN is uniquely positioned to serves as a clinical environment for piloting new technologies or concepts that are developed by participating companies, acting as a living commercialization lab for translational, “bench-to-bedside” research, Dr. Cohen said.
“AlphaLab Health has shown we can accelerate companies’ development. This new space takes the accelerator to the next level, enabling startups to conduct cutting-edge research, work collaboratively, and learn from experts in the clinical and business worlds, all in a welcoming space that facilitates engagement,” said Megan Shaw, Managing Director of Life Sciences at Innovation Works.
To date, thirteen companies across to cohorts have participated in AlphaLab Health.
About the Allegheny Health Network:
Allegheny Health Network (AHN.org) is an integrated healthcare delivery system serving the greater Western Pennsylvania region. The Network is composed of 12 hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, Health + Wellness Pavilions, an employed physician organization, home and community-based health services, a research institute, and a group purchasing organization. The Network provides patients with access to a complete spectrum of advanced medical services, including nationally recognized programs for primary and emergency care, trauma care, cardiovascular disease, organ transplantation, cancer care, orthopedic surgery, neurology and neurosurgery, women’s health, diabetes, autoimmune disease and more. AHN employs approximately 21,000 people, has more than 2,500 physicians on its medical staff and serves as a clinical campus for Drexel University College of Medicine, Temple University School of Medicine, and the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.
About Innovation Works:
Innovation Works (IW) provides investment and assistance to the Pittsburgh region’s most promising technology startups and is the only investment fund focused solely on this region, investing over $113 million in over 500 local companies since formation in 1999. This activity has leveraged more than $3 billion in additional, private investment and makes Innovation Works the most active seed-stage investor in the region and one of the country’s most active overall. Part of the statewide Ben Franklin Technology Partners which is partially funded by the Commonwealth of PA, IW serves southwest Pennsylvania’s innovative companies in hardware, software, and life sciences with investment, expert guidance, and access to networks that help get companies to the next stage of economic growth.