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Hackensack Meridian Health and the New Jersey Innovation Institute, a wholly owned not-for-profit subsidiary of the New Jersey Institute of Technology, are proud to announce the opening of the Agile Strategies Lab, the first incubator of its kind for health care advances in New Jersey.

The lab, located on the NJIT campus in Newark, is designed to help create and launch the next wave of problem-solving in health care through better devices, improved technology and more efficient services to provide a higher quality of care, lower costs and an enhanced patient experience.

The concept is similar to the popular ABC reality show Shark Tank – 10 companies have already pitched ideas to a panel of experts. Innovations include a device to lower risk in common surgeries and a wearable monitor to better track patients’ vitals. Four finalists will be selected to start the process to bring the products or innovations to market.

“As a member of NJII’s Ideation Program for Healthcare, Hackensack Meridian Health intends to leverage the combined skills of entrepreneurs, major corporations, research scientists, students and NJIT faculty to solve our challenges with novel strategies and products,’’ said Robert C. Garrett co-CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health. “This isn’t theoretical, it’s happening.’’

Hackensack Meridian Health has committed $25 million, a new revenue stream to help companies develop trailblazing products and services. This seed money will help launch ideas to the point where they can become viable and receive financing through venture capitalists.

While many of the nation’s major academic medical centers have such incubators, this venture is truly unique because it brings together entrepreneurs and innovators from life sciences, engineering and technology – not just the clinical realm. This remarkable collaboration will provide solutions to health care challenges in every sphere, not just in creating more effective medicines or treatment.

“The health care market is overdue for a new disruptive technology that makes a marked improvement in the way health care technology products and services are provided to consumers,’’ said Joel Bloom, Ph.D., president of NJIT. “It is our belief that this new state-of-the-art ideation center will help spark our next wave of innovation.’’

The health care industry is facing daunting challenges and the time for innovation couldn’t be greater: 76 million baby boomers are heading into middle age and the golden years, a demographic surge that will dramatically stress our health care system. National health care expenditures reached $3.2 trillion in 2015, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – that’s $9,900 per capita – a number that will only grow.

“Our partnership with Hackensack Meridian Health capitalizes on our organizations’ combined resources that we hope will have a dramatic impact on the future of health care in New Jersey and across the nation,’’ said Donald Sebastian, Ph.D, president of NJII.

Hackensack Meridian Health’s vast network – 13 hospitals in seven counties, more than 100 outpatient centers and 6,000 physicians – will serve as a vehicle to test some of the innovations once they are advanced enough as determined by a panel of experts from multiple disciplines.

“We welcome this partnership with NJII and stand behind our commitment to the next wave of inventors and entrepreneurs who will deliver new ways of caring for patients and lowering the overall cost of health care,’’ said John K. Lloyd, Co-CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health.

“The new lab will help inventors obtain patents and help bring to the bedside leading innovations more quickly,’’ said Andrew Pecora, M.D. chief innovation officer and president of Physician Services at Hackensack Meridian Health. “The lab will also offer portfolio management of companies launched. I don’t think you have this anywhere else in the country. And keep in mind, this isn’t just about life sciences, this is information technology, best practices – it’s anything you can think of that makes the health care experience, from beginning to end, better.’’

“Our new lab will play host to the brightest minds our state and nation have to offer,” said Tomas Gregorio, senior executive director, New Jersey Innovation Institute. “Together we will solve problems, launch products and redirect healthcare in ways not yet imagined.’’

For more information, please contact: Daniel Emmer at NJII Daniel.Emmer@njii.com 732-575-2488 or Mary Jo Layton at Hackensack Meridian HealthMaryjo.layton@hackensackmeridian.org 848-888-4513 or 201-396-4499.

Photo caption from left: Tomas Gregorio, senior executive director, NJII; Assistant Health Commissioner Christopher Rinn; Donald Sebastian, president, NJII; Joel Bloom, president, NJIT; Robert C. Garrett, co-CEO, Hackensack Meridian Health; John K. Lloyd, co-CEO, Hackensack Meridian Health;  Andrew Pecora, M.D., chief innovation officer and president of Physician Services at Hackensack Meridian Health; and  Thomas Bartiromo, chief innovation officer, NJII.