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TreeHouse Health — an innovation hub for healthcare startups

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TreeHouse Health, a Minneapolis-based innovation center opened its doors in 2013 with a mission to advance innovation in healthcare by investing and partnering with emerging companies. Managing Director Jeffrey Blank highlighted some of the developments in an interview.

Initially focused on the Twin Cities market, TreeHouse has since expanded its investments beyond Minnesota, However, the TreeHouse Health mission remains much the same. Their goal is to serve as an innovation hub for early stage healthcare companies, providing both investment and industry expertise as well as a space for portfolio companies to co-locate and collaborate with peers in the ecosystem.

“We really aren’t a traditional incubator or accelerator in the sense that we don’t have a set program companies go through and graduate from. We invest early and are in it for the long haul. We tailor our support to each individual company and leverage all of the partnerships in our network to help these companies accelerate their growth and further develop their business,” said Managing Director and co-founder J.D. Blank.

J.D. Blank

TreeHouse Health has invested in 15 companies to date, representing different sectors of healthcare including health IT and services, medical device, and diagnostics. To support these companies, the group has partnerships with organizations like Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota and Accenture, among others, who play key roles in the TreeHouse ecosystem.

Take online CBT business Learn to Live, that developed a digital therapy platform for anxiety and depression and other mental health issues. It has demonstrated a high level of engagement and improved outcomes from users who include employers, universities, and health plans.

Initially, they had a direct-to-consumer focus. Since moving to a business to business model, a decision which was guided in part by a strategic relationship with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, they have seen rapid and continued growth.

“Their success demonstrates the value of deliberate and thoughtful collaboration between an emerging company and a large incumbent player,” Blank said.

Other companies like LogicStream Health and Carrot Health have also seen rapid growth. LogicStream Health develops software programs to help healthcare facilities improve process and reduce variation of care. The business was one of the first in the TreeHouse portfolio and now has 56 hospitals and health systems around the country including Yale New Haven Health, Texas Health Resources, and Tampa General Hospital.

Carrot Health has a Software-as-a-Service platform that delivers analytics and predictive modeling to help health plans and providers understand who their customers are, what they want, and how to better engage them.

POPS! Diabetes Care is an example of a medical device company in the TreeHouse portfolio. Their solution, a connected medical device platform, helps patients better manage their condition. They recently obtained FDA approval and are selling to employers and health plans.

What’s in store for TreeHouse in the future? Continuing to seek out and support promising healthcare companies and expand their already robust ecosystem. “We talk to several hundred companies a year and are always looking for new investment opportunities.”

What exactly does TreeHouse look for in prospective portfolio companies?

“Several things,” says Blank. “We like to see companies that, first, have a product or service that is ready to commercialize, second, that have some revenue or at least a clear line of sight to revenue and third, that are a strategic fit with our current partners in the ecosystem. Those are really the main criteria in evaluating companies, though there certainly are exceptions.”

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