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New accelerator aims to launch health IT field

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A Princeton tech accelerator is turning its eye toward health with a new plan to grow successful entrepreneurs in the health care IT space.

Tigerlabs on Wednesday announced the formation of Tigerlabs Health, a new three-month accelerator program to debut in February. Applications for the 10 slots will be accepted through Nov. 15.

Participants will receive $20,000 in seed funding, mentorship, software, professional seminars and other services. At the end of the three months, the entrepreneurs will participate in a "demo day," showing off their products to investors and industry executives.

Bert Navarette, co-founder of Tigerlabs, said the idea for a health care IT program came out of conversations he had over the summer, when Tigerlabs held a similar program aimed at student tech entrepreneurs.

"For our purposes, (Tigerlabs Health) was more of a reaction to a request by the marketplace to create something in this corridor, given our proximity to Big Pharma," he said.

Navarette said Princeton is ideally located, with many of the world's major pharmaceutical firms within a short drive. He said health care IT — everything from electronic medical records to health-focused smartphone apps to virtual doctor visits — is an area of great interest to those companies, even though it's not yet fully developed.

"It's still a very green-field opportunity," he said. "We're at the very beginning of what I expect to be interesting developments in the health care IT space."

The accelerator also is an attempt to leverage the potential of the Princeton area as a startup-friendly innovation corridor.

Navarette said historically, local entrepreneurs have tended to rely on individual connections when starting new businesses. He said Tigerlabs hopes to change that fragmented entrepreneurial community together into a coordinated effort, and to create a physical space where entrepreneurs can congregate. Tigerlabs' offices are in downtown Princeton.

Navarette said he expects to see a lot of interest in electronic medical records management as well as many consumer-focused apps. He said another emerging trend is technology that helps companies organize and analyze the massive amount of data now being collected as health care increasingly goes digital.

Tigerlabs is accepting applications online at tigerlabs.co.

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