World’s first physical health accelerator program begins in Fort Worth

Techstars signageRepresentatives from 10 of the world’s most innovative startups have converged on Fort Worth this week to revolutionize the physical health industry through new technology as part of a first-of-its-kind physical health accelerator.

The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth has partnered with Techstars — a global investment business that provides access to capital, one-on-one mentorship and customized programming for early-stage entrepreneurs — the City of Fort Worth, Tarrant County and Goff Capital to start the Techstars Physical Health Fort Worth Accelerator.

The program’s partners chose 10 high-growth, early-stage startups to support and fund over the next three years. The companies were chosen from a pool of hundreds of applicants worldwide. For the next several months, owners, innovators and representatives of these startups will call Fort Worth home, as team members from HSC, Techstars and Goff Capital shepherd their ideas from concept to game-changing tech.

“We believe that Fort Worth can become the physical health innovation capital of the world, and this is an incredible next step to making that vision a reality,” said Dr. Sylvia Trent-Adams, HSC’s president, who also will act as a mentor for this program. “HSC is working to establish itself as a leader in whole health, and we know that physical health is a vital component of improving the health and well-being of all Americans.”

The accelerator is focused on supporting companies building new technologies, treatments and therapies in the physical health space in areas such as rehabilitation, physical therapy, performance and exercise. The selected startups will participate in an intensive, 13-week program, and receive hands-on mentorship, curated entrepreneurial content and programming, up to $120,000 in funding, and access to a vast network of mentors, investors, alumni and influential corporate executives. These efforts will culminate Dec. 8 during Demo Day, when leaders of the startups will present their work.

“We are thrilled that Techstars chose Fort Worth and HSC for its next accelerator class,” said Cameron Cushman, HSC’s assistant vice president of innovation ecosystems. “At HSC, we are leaders in innovation in Fort Worth and in the state of Texas, and this first-of-its-kind accelerator focused on physical health startup companies is perfect for our mission to create solutions for a healthier community.”

HSC received $4.8 million in funding from the City of Fort Worth and Tarrant County to start a physical therapy-focused accelerator program with Techstars. Equity investments into the startup companies are being made by HSC and Goff Capital to total nearly $10 million for the project over three years.

The accelerator represents a collaboration to fill gaps identified by many business-savvy observers in Tarrant County: access to physical therapy and the lack of a true early-stage accelerator program for innovative startup companies.

This will be the first Techstars accelerator in North Texas, although the company has hosted more than 80 Techstars Startup Weekends and Techstars Startup Week community events in other parts of the state. In Austin alone, the Colorado-based organization has invested in more than 150 startups that have raised more than $ 1 billion in venture funding to date.

Techstars also will be welcoming two entrepreneurs-in-residence to the program. Both have expertise in the field of physical health and successful track records of growing their own startups.

This first is Dr. Richard Munassi, M.D., MBA, a serial entrepreneur who was co-founder of Blackfin Technology Partners, co-founder of Medzoomer and director at the Tampa Bay Wave Accelerator program. He sits on the advisory board for SXSW Pitch, is an executive in residence at the University of Florida’s UF Innovate program and is part of the NASA iTech team specializing in helping identify commercial technologies for use in the space program.

Dr. Ed Buckley is CEO of digital health company Peerfit and serves on the board of FitOn. Buckley also is an investor with RRE Ventures, splitting his time between New York City and opening an office in Miami. As a self-proclaimed digital health and behavioral nerd, Buckley’s in-depth research skills allow him to understand populations and lead teams to build innovative new products to improve health outcomes across multiple marketplaces.

“We are so excited to welcome our two entrepreneurs-in-residence and these 10 amazing startup companies from around the world to Fort Worth,” said Trey Bowles, managing director of the Fort Worth accelerator. “With the combination of the vibrant, collaborative and supportive entrepreneurial ecosystem in Fort Worth, along with the proven track record that Techstars has for supporting and helping startups grow and excel, we are expecting great things from these founders.

“Through our partnership with HSC, Goff Capital, the City of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, we have a unique combination of health care expertise and key leadership support to help ensure the best experience possible for our global entrepreneurs.”

About the 10 companies selected for the Techstars Physical Health Fort Worth Accelerator

Dallas’ Articulate Labs has developed platform technology enabling faster physical rehabilitation through movement-synchronous electrical muscle stimulation. The first application of this platform will address quadriceps atrophy and inhibition related to chronic knee conditions or following knee surgery.

BOOMROOM out of Charlotte, N.C., is an integrated platform that equips fitness entrepreneurs with the tools and technology to host superior virtual experiences and manage their businesses all in one place.

GoManda is a digital solution to building social skills through building vocabulary. It provides a tablet-based flashcard platform that gives educators the best tool to teach vocabulary.

Neurofit creates virtual therapy exercises that assess, monitor and personalize care for neurological impairments. The Toronto startup produces a digital data layer that uses telemedicine, remote monitoring and digital brain health programs to give patients and clinicians a more proactive way to support the recovery journey.

Pulsewave AG’s TempleGuard is a wearable attachment for existing eyeglasses that measures vital signs behind the patient’s ear. The Swiss company’s device combines real-time patient monitoring with AI algorithms in order to predict the development of cardiovascular disease.

Toronto/Chicago company Stabl’s product is a computer vision-enabled platform entirely accessible through the internet that tracks patients’ biomechanics automatically as they perform their recovery exercises. The movement data is relayed to the patient’s clinical team members’ dashboard, where they can monitor patient recovery, identify potential health risks and communicate with the patient.

For busy, health-conscious people who do not have the time or desire to go to crowded gyms or visit a physiotherapist, German company STRAFFR is the first truly smart resistance band that connects to an app to provide personalized and effective functional training, enabled by real-time feedback and supported by certified trainers and pro athletes.

Tampa-based Recovr Health helps providers/payers increase compliance and decrease no-show rates by leveraging XR technologies to gamify physical and occupational exercises.

Wellest Inc. has created an industry-leading AI coach for managing end-user nutrition and activity plans. The San Francisco startup’s deeply personalized and dynamic plans optimize the users’ body compositions to help them look their best, feel healthier and live longer, all while maintaining flexibility to live their lives.

D.C.-based ZAMA Health is developing a behavioral health integration for any athletic program, fitness company or gym.

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