The inaugural GlobalSTL Health Innovation Summit, held June 28 at the Brown School, convened more than 130 global entrepreneurs, researchers, public officials, investors and healthcare executives to advance healthcare innovation in the St. Louis region.
Washington University in St. Louis and the Envolve Center for Health Behavior Change, an industry-academic research collaboration dedicated to advancing health innovation in practice, hosted the summit at the Brown School’s Hillman Hall.
“The GlobalSTL Health Innovation Summit provided an opportunity to bring together our international partnerships within an area of strong expertise,” said Dedric Carter, the university’s associate vice chancellor for operations and technology transfer. “Fueling innovations in healthcare policy, practice, and technologies is a challenge in which Washington University has long been engaged.”
During her remarks at the summit, Michal Grinstein-Weiss, founding director of the Envolve Center and professor at the Brown School, emphasized that innovation includes working across sectors to solve pressing healthcare challenges. “To make a difference, we need to accelerate the research-to-practice timeline and work more collaboratively between industry and academia,” she said. “Innovation is key to advancing health equity and improving the lives of the families we serve.”
Healthcare executives Dan Cave of Envolve PeopleCare and Vance Moore of Mercy Health provided the keynote addresses. Each made a compelling case for relentless innovation in a continually evolving healthcare landscape and the importance of focusing healthcare on people, not programs.
Cave emphasized attention to the social determinants of health as a needed shift, and he shared the cautionary tales of companies like Kodak and Blockbuster, which fell from market powerhouses to forgotten names due to lack of innovation. Moore stressed looking to other industries for innovation models and a greater role for digital and telehealth interventions to better serve consumers.
The day’s events focused primarily on connecting visiting innovators with the St. Louis healthcare ecosystem as way to match high-growth companies looking to expand to the U.S., within a hospitable region dedicated to continued development.
Entrepreneurs from 14 digital healthcare companies from Israel and Ireland, including one U.S. company with ties to St. Louis, engaged with decision makers through more than 100 one-on-one meetings and “speed dating for entrepreneurs” pitches. The delegation also made site visits and heard presentations from many healthcare companies and innovators who supported the event, including the Envolve Center, Centene Corporation, Express Scripts, and the Mercy Virtual Care Center.
“The summit showcased both the economic power and the welcoming culture of our region to top healthcare innovation companies from Israel and Ireland. It certainly raised the stature of St. Louis as a go-to place for innovative healthcare companies to be able to access top decision makers through GlobalSTL,” said Vijay Chauhan, GlobalSTL lead and chief organizer of the summit.
“We’re trying to work with innovative organizations by trying to help them solve a pain point and be able to deliver greater care to more people,” said Ken Cahill, founder and CEO of Irish company SilverCloud and an international summit participant. “The number of meetings we’ve set up within the last 48 hours is probably equivalent to a minimum of six months of work in terms of the level of quality and exposure to top healthcare organizations.”
The event’s organizers hope to make the summit a regular part of driving innovation in and to St. Louis. GlobalSTL’s efforts, which began in 2014, have proved successful so far, with five Israeli companies opening their U.S. headquarters in St. Louis within the past 24 months. GlobalSTL is an initiative of BioSTL, which has been recognized by JPMorgan Chase and the Initiative for Competitive Inner City for building the top bioscience cluster in the nation. Both also prioritize a more inclusive, diverse workforce.
The following companies, healthcare systems, and innovation groups attended:
Ascension Health | BJC HealthCare | BJC Health Systems Innovation Lab | Centene Corporation | Cortex Innovation Community | Express Scripts | Mercy | OSF HealthCare | Office of Mayor Lyda Krewson | Former Mayor Francis Slay | Saint Louis University School of Medicine | St. Louis Regional Chamber | Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine
The following venture capital and investment firms also attended:
Ascension Ventures | BioGenerator | Cultivation Capital | iSelect Fund | Lewis & Clark Ventures | MVM Life Science Partners | Nanodimension | OrbiMed Advisors | OSF Ventures | REX Health Ventures | SixThirty | St. Louis Arch Angels
See a full list of delegation companies in attendance.