Berkeley-Taiwan accelerator offers healthcare innovators coaching and connection
This August, six representatives from three Taiwanese medical technology startups traveled to Berkeley for three months of intense coaching, training, and networking as part of UC Berkeley School of Public Health’s newly launched Taiwan-Berkeley Health Innovation Accelerator.
The program, which is a partnership between Berkeley Public Health, UC Berkeley–based business accelerator program SkyDeck, and the Ministry of Science and Technology and the National Development Council of Taiwan, will connect the teams with health systems leaders, pharmaceutical executives, experts in regulatory and reimbursement strategies, and life science investors.
“The Taiwan-Berkeley Health Innovation Accelerator was created to deepen the ties between Taiwan and the UC Berkeley innovation ecosystem,” says Priya Mehta, assistant dean of strategic planning, external relations, and development at Berkeley Public Health.
While in Berkeley, the health innovation entrepreneurs will not only take advantage of coaching from faculty at Berkeley Public Health and access to SkyDeck but also proximity to Silicon Valley investment capital. The program will help participants move from research and small-scale implementation to large-scale, sustainable impact.
“The teams are provided access to a world-class network of expert advisors and mentors,” says Mehta. “They also are provided resources that advance their ability to complete efficacy studies and navigate the legal and regulatory hurdles getting a product to market in the United States.”
The program has special meaning for Berkeley Public Health Dean Michael C. Lu, the first Taiwanese dean of a top public health school.
For now, the program aims to help Taiwanese medical technology startups break into the US market. But eventually, Lu hopes that new connections will help bring Silicon Valley startups to Taiwan.
“I am reminded that it was this Taiwan-Silicon Valley collaboration that helped spur Taiwan’s semiconductor industry 30 years ago,” Lu adds. “Our goal is to help spur Taiwan’s next industry in health innovations.”
Andrea Wang is the founder and CEO of Taiwan-based AHEAD Intelligence, which is working on artificial intelligence (AI)–powered support tools for physicians that aim to reduce diagnostic turnaround time and cancer mortality.
“It’s essential to connect with the startup ecosystem in the Bay areas and learn from the best,” said Wang. “We really enjoy interacting with mentors and advisors who help us further polish our message and pitch to collaborators and investors.”
AHEAD is seeing results two months into the program. “We expanded our network through the support from the advisors and mentors and connected with two FPOAI members through the help from Dean Lu,” said Wang. “We are [also] exploring collaboration opportunities with four flow cytometry instrument/software companies. All this exciting progress won’t be possible without the support from the accelerator program.”
Dan Gillette, Berkeley Public Health advisor as well as mentor and co-coach for AHEAD, says that it’s exciting to share expertise and know-how across borders.
“AHEAD has really taken advantage of the opportunity, forming partnerships, traveling to US conferences, and fostering the formation of industry workgroups related to AI in healthcare,” said Gilette.
Other participating companies in the current cohort include ATP BioPharm, a startup associated with Taipei Medical University and working on an enzyme inhibitor for treating multiple myeloma, brain cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease and AnBogen Therapeutics, working on novel lung cancer medications.
While they are here, the group is enjoying not only academic mentorship and business connections, but the best the Bay Area culture has to offer, including an outing to a Giants game, an evening at Jaguar Karaoke, a hike on Angel Island, and a Moon Festival dinner catered by Berkeley’s Michelin-tagged Great China restaurant.
The next cohort, representing five Taiwanese startups, arrives in Berkeley in February 2022.