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$485G grant to Hofstra to foster health care innovation

Hofstra University's school of medicine.

Hofstra University's school of medicine. Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

Hofstra University has been awarded a three-year, $485,000 grant to foster entrepreneurial ideas to improve health care in underserved communities in the metropolitan area.

The grant, announced by Hofstra Thursday, comes from the Regional Innovation Strategies program, an offshoot of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration’s i6 Challenge, a national grant competition.

Using the funding, which will be matched dollar-for-dollar by Hofstra, the university will create a three-year program that will identify, select and mentor entrepreneurs with ideas that can assist health care operations in low-income communities.

The program, called the Healthcare Entrepreneurship Community Challenge, will be led by the university’s Center for Entrepreneurship, which is partnering with Hofstra’s School of Health Professions and Human Services, its medical school, and Northwell Health’s investment arm, Northwell Ventures.

Through those partnerships, Hofstra hopes to identify problems entrepreneurs might address, such as barriers to accessing community health programs, or challenges in maintaining wellness in communities, said Mark Lesko, executive dean of the Center for Entrepreneurship.

“We’re going to put the challenge out to entrepreneurs to come up with solutions to those vexing problems,” said Lesko, who is also vice president of economic development at the university. Eventually, the plan is to transform ideas into startup companies that can attract investors.

“The hope is that these innovations are so compelling that health systems would be champing at the bit to acquire them and use their ideas,” Lesko said.

Hofstra will create a steering committee and hire staff to oversee the innovation effort. The program is set to begin operations on Oct. 1, Lesko said.

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