Community wellness meets innovation at Hofstra camp

Well, well, wellness: Participants lined up for the 2019 Healthcare Entrepreneurship Community Challenge Boot Camp, held this week at Hofstra University. (Photo: Philip Hinds, Hofstra)
By GREGORY ZELLER //

Healthcare met entrepreneurism this week at Hofstra University, where teams of wellness-focused innovators came together to learn the business ropes directly from seasoned insiders, including Northwest Health professionals.

Hailing from around the Greater New York region and as far away as Massachusetts and Florida, 26 teams of aspiring wellness impresarios received entrepreneurship training to help promote healthcare innovations in underserved communities, the “challenge topic” of the 2019 Healthcare Entrepreneurship Community Challenge Boot Camp.

The training was based on business models championed by the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s i6 Challenge, a regional innovation-strategy program dedicated to turning new ideas into jobs.

Program participants, who spent two days at the Hempstead university and bunked for the night in Hofstra’s residence halls, were mentored directly by other entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and representatives of the New Hyde Park-based Northwell Health system.

Through an intensive series of training sessions, participants received from-the-trenches instruction on financing, customer discovery, business-pitch preparation and other essential skills needed to succeed in the competitive world of wellness innovation.

Martine Hackett, an assistant professor in Hofstra’s Master of Public Health and Community Health programs and co-chairwoman of the regional boot camp’s 2019 Steering Committee, called the annual effort “a unique multidisciplinary program” designed to drive home the basics of entrepreneurism – and, this year specifically, the importance of social factors in new healthcare initiatives.

Stacey Sikes: Eyes on LI.

“In addition to entrepreneurial training, the entrepreneurs are also receiving guidance from public-health experts on the social determinants of health and how it impacts community wellness,” Hackett noted.

The mentoring sessions were led by an impressive collection of established business professionals, including Accelerate New York Seed Fund Principal Noel Goddard, Northwell Ventures Investment Director Eric Feinstein and Hofstra University Entrepreneur-in-Residence Aaron Foss, founder of uber-successful robocall-blocker Nomorobo, among others.

Participants also took a tour of East Meadow’s Nassau University Medical Center for an up-close look at how wellness is practiced in underserved communities. And many will continue to receive entrepreneurship mentoring over the summer, according to Hofstra University, leading up to a Regional Symposium and Pitch Competition scheduled for Sept. 24 at the university.

Stacey Sikes, Hofstra’s executive dean for entrepreneurship and business development, said the “immersive training” boot camp – which catered to entrepreneurs developing digital-health technologies, new medical devices and cutting-edge wellness programs – was as much about promoting the Long Island innovation economy as it was helping the would-be businesspeople find their commercial footing.

“The sessions are taking place in the ideaHUb and throughout the new (Frank G. Zarb) School of Business building that opened this year,” Sikes told Innovate LI. “The federally funded Healthcare Entrepreneurship Community Challenge is an opportunity for Hofstra to introduce entrepreneurs from across New York State and the country to the Long Island entrepreneurial ecosystem.”