Aliso Viejo-based Octane, a business accelerator for startups in the fields of ophthalmology, medtech and aesthetic medicine, among other sectors, is expanding into two new verticals as it seeks to help Orange County’s business community stay ahead of the curve of new, emerging industry trends.
The first vertical is focused on growing the area’s base of artificial intelligence jobs. Dubbed healthsocal.ai, the new business line has an emphasis on mental health.
“We’re looking for companies that are AI oriented where their technology could be employed in healthcare,” Octane Chief Executive Bill Carpou told the Business Journal.
“The more challenging aspect is to improve the quality of healthcare in Southern California.”
He envisions creating a health index to quantitatively measure the health of Southern Californians, providing healthcare to those who lack adequate access and emphasizing preventative care such as wearables and tests.
“It will take a minimum of five years to have any material impact, maybe 20 years,” he said.
Mental Health Focus
Octane on July 13 held a launch event for healthsocal.ai at the Flight office campus in Tustin Legacy, where about 100 guests listened to experts discuss the current state of mental health.
The event was moderated by Zeeshan Subzwari, who is managing director of the initiative.
“I don’t think anyone would argue we don’t have a mental health problem in this country,” Carpou stated.
Prominent members of this initiative include Anthony Chang, chief intelligence and innovation office at Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC); Chris Huff, chief strategy officer at Kofax Inc.; Jennifer McCaney, co-executive director of the UCLA Biodesign; and Neil Sahota, an IBM Master Inventor and an AI adviser to the United Nations.
The second new vertical being launched by Octane is cardiovascular-focused, and was inspired by Arshad Quadri, who in 2015, sold his company, CardiAQ Valve Technologies, for $400 million to Irvine-based Edwards Lifesciences Corp. (NYSE: EW), OC’s most valuable public company with a market cap of nearly $65 billion as of last week.
“He reached out to us and said ‘Orange County’s been really good to me. I think it’s time you guys get a cardiovascular vertical’ and repeat the success we’ve had in ophthalmology and medical aesthetics,’” Carpou said.
Thus far, large health-related entities have signed onto the initiative, including Edwards, Medtronic, Baxter, Masimo, UCI Health and Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian, Carpou said.
Octane’s initial event for the cardiovascular vertical is scheduled for Oct. 13, for which about 100 people have been invited, will include physicians, industry strategics and investors.
The event will explore unmet needs in cardiology, highlight current buying trends of strategics and investors, review current funding models of cardiology innovation, present innovation trends, and showcase top emerging cardiology companies.
“The discussions will be more about innovation in cardiovascular than clinical studies,” Carpou said.
Octane listens to the pitches of about 550 companies a year, for which it picks about 4% and lines them up with mentors to prepare their businesses to get institutional funding.
Since 2010, it’s helped more than 1,400 companies raise over $4.3 billion in funding and create 26,316 jobs.
Octane pointed to these success stories: San Clemente’s ThriveLab, a telehealth provider of hormone balancing programs that raised $2.6 million and hired 65 people; Irvine’s iRegained Inc., a hand rehabilitation system that raised $1 million and hired 10; and Aliso Viejo’s Matrix Sensors Inc., a maker of “smart environmental sensors” that raised $1.15 million and hired five.