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NOLABA Leads NOLA’s 1st Health Innovation Challenge

bio digital healthAmritha Appaswami, NOLABA Vice President of Bio Business Development & Strategy, wrote in the July/August edition of Healthcare Journal of New Orleans about one of NOLABA’s newest digital health initiatives.

NOLABA Promotes NOLA’s First Digital Health Innovation Challenge

Earlier this year, NOLABA undertook a strategy and visioning exercise at the request of Mayor Mitch Landrieu. The goal was to identify specific sub-segments within the Bio and Health Services Innovation cluster that represent areas of opportunity for New Orleans and the wider region. We prioritized areas that represent opportunities for wealth and job creation potential – keeping in mind New Orleans’ unique physical, financial and intellectual assets, the city’s brand identity, and other factors signature to New Orleans.

Out of this exercise we identified four fields of focus, namely, digital health, medical tourism and destination healthcare, plus advanced manufacturing for bio-industrial products and bio-medical supplies, as areas that can accelerate the pace of economic growth in New Orleans. Among the many activities NOLABA will lead to fulfill the promise in these sub-segments, we will identify high-quality prospects that fit the strategic growth areas; act as the coordinating entity to bring together the elements of New Orleans’ value proposition; bring key stakeholders and decision-makers to the table to pursue appropriate opportunities; and provide oversight on policy, funding, critical partnerships, and other enablers of success.

A recent win for New Orleans that exemplifies both the strategy and the facilitation NOLABA provided was the announcement by Provision Healthcare. In April, Provision Healthcare revealed that in partnership with LCMC Health and LSUHSC, it will develop a $100 million advanced cancer treatment center, the Louisiana Proton Therapy Center, on the University Medical Center campus. The investment is expected to create over 60 medical-related jobs at an average wage of $100,000 or more per year. Provision expects groundbreaking to occur at the end of this year and to see the first patient by late 2019.

Among the reasons Provision cited for selecting New Orleans was the fact that the city has a confluence of medical services and a collaborative ecosystem for innovation. They specifically noted that the native culture and appeal of New Orleans is so strong that the new center will likely draw patients and caregivers from around the country and the world, not just from Louisiana. This is a clear example of the medical tourism focus area at work – attracting innovative medical services that complement existing services, drawing upon the city’s strong tourism and hospitality brand, and creating meaningful health and economic impact. At NOLABA, we’re now turning our attention to another focus area: digital health.

New Orleans has experienced more than $2 billion in new healthcare and medical research facilities in the past two years. This, combined with the fact that New Orleans is home to two medical schools, represents a rich pool of talent, expertise, and resources for health services innovation. However, the city and the wider region also bear some of the nation’s highest burdens of adverse health outcomes in a number of disease areas.

Given that the city is home to 64 percent more startups per capita than the national average, and digital media and information technology are some of our fastest growing industry clusters, it is our mission to attract health technology companies to simultaneously tackle some of these pressing health needs while taking advantage of the collaborative local ecosystem and tremendous partners in health systems across the region. In order to do this, we are preparing to launch an innovation challenge designed specifically around the healthcare needs of our population and the technology needs of our providers and other health services stakeholders. This challenge will offer a unique twist on the conventional pitch competition, alleviate commonly cited issues of access to funding and partnerships, and provide health technology companies an incentive to develop their innovative solutions here in New Orleans.

Like everything else NOLABA does, this is not something we can accomplish alone. We are eager to work with a range of organizations, including healthcare technology, professional services and others, to create a vehicle for attracting more health technology-driven innovation in New Orleans and bring about a positive health and economic impact. I invite you all to get involved in this innovation challenge. Please write to me at aappaswami@nolaba.org to learn how.

Read the published column here on pages 52-53.

amritha appaswami, bio, economic development, nolaba


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