U-M Ross Launches Health Care Accelerator, Stephen Ross Eyes New Sites for Detroit Center for Innovation

The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business has launched the Pinkert Healthcare Accelerator to assist students in converting their creative ideas into successful companies.
U-M Ross School of Business
The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business has launched the Pinkert Healthcare Accelerator. // Photo courtesy of U-M Ross

The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business in Ann Arbor has launched the Pinkert Healthcare Accelerator to assist students in converting their creative ideas into successful companies.

Managed in the Zell Lurie Institute at Michigan Ross, the Pinkert Healthcare Accelerator adds to the extensive world-class health care and entrepreneurial offerings available to Michigan Ross and U-M students. The accelerator provides student teams with grant seed funding; expert mentorship from U-M faculty, staff, and alumni; and advise from a board of leaders in health care entrepreneurship and investing.

The new accelerator was created from a dedicated fund that included in a $5.4 million gift from Eleanor and Michael Pinkert. That gift also established the Pinkert Scholars Program, which provides full-ride scholarships for Michigan Ross Full-Time MBA students focused on health care. The accelerator is led by faculty director Mike Johnson and program director Anne Perigo.

“Thanks to this incredible gift from the Pinkerts, the Pinkert Healthcare Accelerator supports our amazing U-M student health care entrepreneurs working to solve big challenges and shows how Michigan Ross is leading in health care innovation,” says Johnson, an Entrepreneur in Residence at the Zell Lurie Institute and lecturer in entrepreneurial studies at Michigan Ross.

“Michigan Ross and U-M have a great set of entrepreneurial and health care offerings, and the accelerator is a unique opportunity for students starting innovative ventures.”

Any Michigan Ross or U-M student who has an impactful idea for solving a serious need in health care — from targeting diseases to increasing access and reducing the cost of care — can apply to the Pinkert Healthcare Accelerator. The accelerator will have two application cycles each year, with each cohort capped at around 15 ventures to start.

After a rigorous evaluation process, ventures are accepted into the accelerator across three stages:

  • Vision: Students are working to clearly understand the need and to refine the value-creation hypothesis.
  • Test: Students have identified the unmet need and hypothesis for differentiation/impact of their solution and work to gather market feedback and evaluate the business model.
  • Launch: Students have developed a plan for value creation with milestones and are working to launch the business.

“We are looking for students who are passionate about fixing health care,” Johnson says. “That includes a variety of approaches with innovative technologies and care delivery models to address patient-care challenges in access, quality and cost.”

There were 13 student ventures accepted into the Pinkert Healthcare Accelerator’s first cohort, which ran during the 2021 winter term. Among the health care solutions those ventures addressed were: transitional aid for postpartum parents to ensure a healthy postpartum environment; inventory management to provide hospitals with real-time data on medical supplies; and a product that replaces plastic prescription bottles with a 100 percent recyclable solution.

Beyond the new health care accelerator and the Pinkert Scholars Program, Michigan Ross also offers a Healthcare Management Concentration for Full-Time MBA students; dual degrees with the U-M Medical School and U-M School of Public Health; and health care-focused student organizations, such as the Healthcare & Life Science Club.

In related news, U-M grad and benefactor Stephen Ross, chairman of The Related Cos. in New York City, is eyeing several sites for the Detroit Center for Innovation after passing on developing the Wayne County jail site, a project in partnership with Dan Gilbert’s Bedrock real estate firm, which owns the site. Possible new locations include The District Detroit, including land behind the Fox Theatre that at one time was being eyed for a sports stadium until Comerica Park (opened in 2000) and Ford Field (opened in 2002) were located on the east side of Woodward Avenue.

According to U-M spokesman Rick Fitzgerald: “Stephen Ross and his Related Cos. are involved in the Detroit Center for Innovation, but the Ross School of Business, named in recognition of Stephen Ross’ support for the school, is not involved. U-M is working with Mr. Ross on the academic programming for the DCI, but there is no direct connection between the DCI and the Ross School.”