(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is another article in a series spotlighting the companies that are participating in the inaugural “HealthTech Accelerator” sponsored by CO.LAB, Erlanger Health System and Unum. “Demo Day” is today.)
By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
“We have to push ourselves; we can be more nimble in enabling creativity in a city that has great momentum,” says Matt Gibson, Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer at Erlanger Health System.
Those powerful words drive the region’s oldest and largest health system in a variety of activities, the most recent being one of the two anchor sponsors of the inaugural “HealthTech Accelerator” offered by Chattanooga’s CO.LAB in conjunction with Unum.
Erlanger is also an active participant in the “Chattanooga Smart Community Collaborative” that also involves the city and county governments, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, EPB, CO.LAB, and The Enterprise Center.
“Our involvement is complementary and consistent with being a leader in creation and innovation,” the articulate graduate of Auburn University told us. Gibson came to Chattanooga in 2017 from East Jefferson General Hospital in Metairie, LA where he served as Executive Vice President of Business Development and Chief Strategy Officer.
He and his wife developed a list of cities in the Southeast where they could raise their family, and Chattanooga was on “the short list of cool cities.” The quality of life, coupled with the fact that his position was a new one and the strong commitment of Chief Executive Officer Kevin Spiegel to embracing innovative ideas, sealed the decision.
“My full-time job is strategy for our business,” Gibson says. “This (involvement with start-ups) is not our core business (but), we have to work to diversify our revenue streams long term. In our industry, it’s as good as it’s going to get from a clinical revenue stream perspective.” He cites Stanford University Medical Center as an example of a system that expanded its revenue base through innovation and partnerships with start-ups.
“It takes intentionality,” Gibson adds.
As we conducted interviews with the eight participating teams, we were impressed with the number of times the entrepreneurs cited the involvement of a mentor from Erlanger and/or Unum. It is clearly a significant commitment that both Chattanooga businesses are making, but one that could benefit both enterprises and the community.
“I’m pleased with the quality of the companies in this first cohort,” Gibson says.
Perhaps wearing his former business development hat, he says that Erlanger has to be part of a collaborative that gens-up ideas and builds new partnerships. The health system is not limiting its interests to certain types of applications.
“There are so many areas that can benefit us,” Gibson says. “Our involvement is emblematic of where we are headed.”