Portland-based business accelerator Venture Hall has partnered with Unum Group and MaineHealth to target and provide assistance to startup companies in the fields of health care, insurance and employee benefits.

Venture Hall, itself a startup, plans to begin its first accelerator program this summer. It hopes to attract entrepreneurs and innovators from across the country to create new solutions for the health care industry.

The partnership with disability insurance provider Unum and health care provider MaineHealth will help tackle problems that both organizations see as critical, they said in a news release.

“Our joining with Venture Hall and Unum to help grow Maine’s startup and innovation ecosystem is not only critical to MaineHealth, it’s critical to all of Maine,” said Bill Caron, CEO of MaineHealth. “We are excited about the vision for Venture Hall and what it means for the future of MaineHealth and Maine.”

Through Venture Hall’s accelerator program, both organizations said they will support entrepreneurs with mentors, business resources and industry expertise to help startup teams make progress toward launching commercially viable products and services.

“We expect this to be a powerful collaboration,” said Jess Knox, co-founder of Venture Hall. “The deep industry insight and global reach that corporate partners like MaineHealth and Unum provide are of critical value to startups – not just for the teams who participate in the accelerator program, but for our innovation ecosystem at large.”

Knox said a good example of a candidate for the program would be a technology company that is developing applications for the health care field.

Senior leaders in all three organizations worked together to identify common problems that represent important challenges in their industries. The “problem statement” they developed together will drive the recruitment of companies for the 2017 summer accelerator, the release said.

“We are very excited about this partnership,” said Mike Simonds, Unum’s U.S. president and CEO. “We hear from so many of our health care clients that they need innovative solutions to support their employees. We see this partnership with Venture Hall and MaineHealth as an opportunity to explore and support ways to solve those challenges, while also fostering economic growth in Maine.”

Venture Hall and its partners are seeking eight to 10 early-stage companies from across the country to be a part of their first accelerator cohort beginning in late June. Companies will spend three months in Portland working through an intense program developed by Venture Hall and its national partner, Village Capital.

Village Capital is a Washington, D.C.-based venture development organization that supports startup accelerator programs around the world.

“When it comes to developing and launching new products and services, Village Capital’s programs are state-of-the-art,” said Knox. “We are looking forward to applying their evidence-based curriculum and investing methodology, while tapping into their global network of entrepreneurs, innovators and investors.”

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 791-6390 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: jcraiganderson

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