Accenture has announced the launch of the Accenture HealthTech Innovation Challenge, a programme which will bring together leading-edge start-ups with prominent life sciences and health companies to tackle some of the world’s greatest health challenges including access, affordability and transparency.

The HealthTech Innovation Challenge is part of Accenture’s broader HealthTech Innovation programme which has been created to recognise early stage start-up businesses that can play a major role in improving the way people around the world manage their health and associated costs.

“Digital disruption is fundamentally changing the life sciences and health industries. New digital players from within and outside the ecosystem have the potential to make a significant impact to the way the world approaches healthcare,” said Senior Managing Director of Accenture Life Sciences and co-author of Healthcare Disrupted, Anne O’Riordan.

“With all the activity in the startup space, many established healthcare organisations are asking how do they decide which innovators can help them best deliver patient care. With the launch of the Accenture HealthTech Innovation Challenge, Accenture will identify emerging innovators and disruptors and act as a catalyst by connecting them with the companies who can fast-track market impact,” continued O’Riordan.

Through the programme start-ups from around the globe will compete to bring innovative technology and creative solutions forward to improve the way people access and manage healthcare. The winners will gain direct access to the leading companies in their target customer or therapeutic sector, while industry leaders gain exposure to fully vetted, cutting-edge technologies as they evolve.

The challenge include four categories: making access to care easier for remote and underserved populations; supporting care plan adherence with real-world evidence or data sources to improve outcomes; enabling consumers to get the right information and services at the right time for optimising care; and enabling health information sharing in a private and secure manner.

Two initial pitching sessions will take place in London on the 25thof November and New York on the 1st of December 2016. Selected start-ups will be invited to pitch their ideas to an exclusive panel of judges that includes representatives from Amerisource Bergen, Merck, Novartis, Shire, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and more.

The final judging round will take place at the StartUp Health Festival in San Francisco in January 2017. Participating businesses can enter their applications via the Accenture website from now until 21st of October 2016.

“We forecast that start-up funding for digital healthcare, such as wearables and virtual health, will reach $6.5 billion by the end of next year,” said Managing Director of Digital Health at Accenture, Brian Kalis.

“This growth continues to be fuelled by open innovation between start-ups and a broad spectrum of stakeholders with the same shared goal of advancing healthcare,” concluded Kalis.

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