Dell Medical School pilots Texas Health Catalyst out of cycle submissions with Austin Blockchain Collective

In a follow up to our kickoff about Dell Medical School Working Group, we re-engaged with Ruben Rathnasingham, PhD — Assistant Dean for Health Product Innovation and Anjum Khurshid, MD PhD — Director Data Integration and Assistant Professor Population Health regarding Texas Health Catalyst and Austin Blockchain Collective companies.

Austin Blockchain Collective, Dell Medical School, and Texas Health Catalyst

Ruben offered some clarity and an opportunity for the Austin Blockchain Collective. Clarity was provided by me asking clarifying questions as a potential submitter of a Letter of Interest (LOI). While we aren’t ready to mention my company today, my team and I are able to ask revealing questions about Texas Health Catalyst. In essence, my team had some reservations about submitting our LOI out of cycle and without a Dell Medical Faculty, Staff, or Student engaged in our project in order to participate or obtain funding.

Ruben appreciated our view on the cycle and funding options. He provided guidance saying “part of what we do is connect companies accepted into Texas Health Catalyst to faculty, staff, etc. within Dell Medical and/or University of Texas.” While it is a requirement to have a Dell Medical Faculty participating, that is something the Texas Health Catalyst intake team addresses for submitting companies. Essentially, if accepted, Dell Medical school aligns the full force of its capabilities, including mentor programs, larger firm introductions, etc.

Regarding submitting outside of the Texas Health Catalyst cycle, Ruben offered to support piloting an out of cycle submission option with Austin Blockchain Collective companies. Ruben and his team believe they weren’t effectively connected, nor exploring Blockchain applications, IoT, and/or AI related opportunities thru March of this year. Dell Medical believe a pilot will give them good data points on (1) the effect of reviewing LOIs outside of cycle acceptance, without a deluge of LOI submissions, and (2) a focused receive/review/respond cycle for Blockchain-specific LOIs.

Dr. Khurshid believes taking these data points will help them determine how they may approach a cycle specific to Blockchain. He said it would be a good first step to obtain funding for a dedicated cycle of the program on Texas Health Blockchain Catalyst. For example, if several Collective companies respond, this might establish a foundation and impetus for Dell Medical, and and other colleges, to develop a Texas Health Blockchain Catalyst program. In the case of McCombs School of Business, they recently received funding from Ripple to explore Blockchain applications and business models. The combined focus of both schools on a Texas Health Blockchain Catalyst would be valuable for City of Austin.

Ruben shared the current makeup of the Texas Health Catalyst class. He clarified that engaging with Texas Health Catalyst exposes founders and their companies to Dell Medical’s Clinical Mentors Program. Mentors provide great insight, as well as support, during the early days of founding and building a new company. For example, Mentors can provide advice on regulatory opportunity, Dell Medical can champion changes in laws, and firms like Merck, partnered with Dell Medical school, may provide critical business views or partnerships.

As a founder, it’s important to share your vision, objectives, metrics, etc. with experienced people. Founders may be challenged to find a group or even one person to share your ideas, opportunities, and/or obstacles. Sharing kicks off a process that may result in blind spot identification, finance views you hadn’t considered, operational views you require, and positive statements like “this project has legs.” Mentor programs, like the one that Texas Health Catalyst offers, effectively address founder needs.

The makeup of founders and companies within the current Texas Health Catalyst cycle started with 80 LOI submissions. Fifty percent of those submissions where from founders and companies external to The University of Texas, and/or Dell Medical School. Each submission was provided with a positive or negative response, including a write-up of the decision why — even if they were not accepted to “come in and talk to clinicians.” Ruben said “it is a lot of work, and the work is worthy of our time as each founder and company spent time telling us about them, their team, and their product/service/vision.”

From the eighty LOIs, twenty six of those were asked to come in and present further what their team, product or service was offering. From that short list, a total of 14 companies were accepted into the current cycle. Thirty-three percent of the companies in the currently cycle were originally external to The University of Texas and/or Dell Medical School. The signal is clear that projects originating externally stand a good chance of being accepted.

Responsibility is on the Collective’s member companies to submit their project for consideration by Dell Medical School. If you or your project are actively engaged with the Austin Blockchain Collective, you are asked to submit a LOI, and Dell Medical School are waiting for your submissions.

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