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Building with Purpose

2021 year in review

Our dynamic community worked harder than ever in 2021 to improve health and humanize healthcare

WATCH: A message from CEO, Steven Collens

Global footprint

Our global network of healthcare innovators continued to grow in 2021 while meeting the evolving healthcare landscape. Over the course of the year, the MATTER community included:

member startups
corporate partners

Sector breakdown: Startups

Sector breakdown: Partners

2021 startup community highlights, by the numbers:

raised by member companies
in 2021 revenues
clinicians have used members' products
people have benefited

“MATTER shares NowPow’s commitment to innovating healthcare, cultivating diversity and doing good. MATTER accelerated our growth from the very beginning by connecting us with like-minded companies and leaders, providing practical tools and resources and sharing essential knowledge — which we believe is power.”

7 MATTER startups were acquired in 2021

Read more about each acquisition here.

CareSignal, an automated, deviceless remote patient monitoring (RPM) platform for value-based care, was acquired by Lightbeam Health, a leading healthcare analytics platform, on November 15, 2021.

Explorer Surgical, a digital case support platform connecting medical device teams to providers, was acquired by Global Healthcare Exchange (GHX), a healthcare business and data automation company, on October 14, 2021.

Alertive Healthcare, a turnkey remote patient monitoring (RPM) platform, was acquired by Carbon Health, a human-centered, tech-enabled healthcare company, on October 5, 2021.

NowPow, a self-care referral platform, was acquired by Unite Us, a technology company that builds coordinated care networks connecting health and social care, on September 21, 2021.

Apervita’s value optimization business, which combines cost, quality and outcomes performance analytics with financial insights, was acquired by Clarify Health, a leading cloud analytics company, on August 4, 2021.

wayForward, a behavioral health digital platform, was acquired by DarioHealth, a pioneer in the global digital therapeutics market, on May 18, 2021.

rMark Bio, a deep learning platform that transforms healthcare data into real-time business intelligence, was acquired by Within3, an enterprise-wide solution for virtual engagement in the life science industry, on April 27, 2021.

Accelerating startup innovation

We’re answering the call to advance equitable innovation and entrepreneurship in our local community and beyond. Together with our partners, we received more than $4.3 million dollars in grants to support new initiatives.

Chicago Proactive Response to COVID-19 entered Phase Two.

In March 2020, mHUB, MATTER and 1871 launched Chicago Proactive Response, a collaboration to mobilize the tech ecosystem around leveraging technology to rebuild during COVID-19 and beyond. In May 2021, the U.S. Economic Development Administration awarded the initiative a $2.78 million grant backing programmatic enhancements to support small businesses as the Illinois economy rebuilds.

All facets of the initiative are anchored by a commitment to support under-resourced businesses and narrow the equity gap for female founders and entrepreneurs of color across Chicago and the state of Illinois.

$2.78M grant

MATTER received a grant to scale our venture acceleration program and accelerate technology entrepreneurship.

Through the EDA’s Build to Scale program, MATTER secured a $1.3 million grant in September 2021 to enable more entrepreneurs to build stronger solutions to help us all live healthier, better lives. With these funds, MATTER is developing an algorithm-driven platform to scale our incubation offerings and resources equitably and inclusively.

$1.3M grant

We received another grant to further our work addressing health equity in the greater Chicago area.

MATTER is using $225,000 from The Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust to strengthen our commitment to improving health outcomes in Chicago’s underrepresented communities. We are developing educational offerings to support both entrepreneurs and large organizations building health equity solutions and developing health equity competencies.

$225K grant

We continued to build our Advancing Health Equity initiative.

In 2021, MATTER partnered with YWCA Metropolitan Chicago to launch our inaugural Health Equity Innovation accelerator supporting entrepreneurs with solutions that advance health equity. A team of experts selected 10 companies for our eight-week accelerator.

Inaugural Health Equity Innovation accelerator

2021 corporate partner programming, by the numbers:

corporate partner programs
large-scale innovation engagements
innovators engaged with MATTER challenges
countries represented by challenge applicants

“We’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with an impressive roster of startups and other innovative companies through the past two challenges with MATTER. Every year we’ve been impressed with the range of solutions that are submitted.”

Driving thoughtful innovation

From Fortune 500 companies to non-profit health systems and academic institutions, we enabled our corporate partners to tap entrepreneurial talent at the regional, national and global levels to help them innovate faster.

Tackling diabetes comorbidities and environmental factors

Diabetes is a global scourge, affecting millions, with an unequal distribution toward the most vulnerable populations. We worked with two of our partners, Roche Diabetes Care and Cigna, on two separate initiatives in 2021 to advance diabetes solutions and address the underlying inequities affecting those living with diabetes. We built two innovation challenges, attracting 110 applications from entrepreneurs around the world with solutions that empower people living with diabetes to reach their optimal health.

Between the two initiatives, four companies received monetary awards to continue to grow and scale their solutions to improve the lives of those living with diabetes.

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

34.2M Americans live with diabetes1

Preparing for U.S. market entry

The U.S. is the premier healthcare market globally, and MATTER is uniquely positioned to prepare healthcare companies to successfully build in the U.S. In 2021, we collaborated with the Consulate General of Canada and the Korea SMEs and Startups Agency to help nine Canadian and Korean entrepreneurs refine their go-to-market strategies for the U.S. healthcare market.


The U.S. invested $23.8B in health tech in 20212

Transforming the care experience for patients and providers

From addressing clinician burnout to supplementing care delivered at home and in the community, MATTER partnered with Advocate Aurora Health and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois on two separate initiatives in 2021 to reimagine the care experience for both patients and physicians.

Seven startups advanced to the final round and secured $85,000 in awards and nine cumulative months of mentoring. Challenge winner, Health Note, started an ongoing pilot program with Advocate Aurora Health to advance the Health Note platform, that automates clinical note taking and data entry, empowering patients to partake in their own health records and enabling providers with updated, clinical-grade health records at the right place and time.

3American Hospital Association

There will be a shortage of 3.2M healthcare workers by 20263

Advancing health for all moms and babies

In 2021, MATTER and the Parkview Mirro Center for Research and Innovation held the 2021 Healthy Mom and Baby Competition 2.0. The competition focused on solutions for supporting at-risk pregnant and new mothers throughout their healthcare journeys and their daily lives.

NUA Surgical, an Irish medical device startup, won the competition. Their innovation, SteriCISION, is a sterile, disposable C-section retractor that is explicitly designed to manage the thick abdominal wall of larger patients, improving the ergonomics of the surgery and reducing the risk of surgical complications.

4Indiana Maternal Mortality Review Committee

87% of pregnancy-associated deaths were preventable in 20204

2021 MATTER events, by the numbers:

more attendees in 2021
event attendees
thought leadership events
mentorship hours provided

“As a MATTER mentor and venture fellow, I’ve experienced firsthand the unparalleled diversity and depth of our health innovation community: visionary founders, proven operators and engaged advisors. Engaging with our community in accelerators and workshops brings constant learnings and useful connections. Truly a huge ‘return on time’ for mentees and mentors alike.”

Top event takeaways of 2021

We’re on a mission to make healthcare more human-centered, accessible and equitable. Below are a few of the many conversations we had over the past year on innovation, health equity and entrepreneurial diversity.

Tales from the Trenches™
Brought to you by VillageMD and Paragon Biosciences

“I had never contemplated building a big company. It was a different way of thinking. I was thinking, ‘Build a company with $20M in revenue, do it again, do it again.’ But then I thought ‘What if I build a company not to sell?’ A company that would be around for decades or even a century. What if you had a research and development budget of a billion dollars, imagine the problems you could solve. You could fundamentally change an industry.”
— Sean Lane, Founder and CEO, Olive

Increasing Representation for Patients and Entrepreneurs

“I understand the uphill battle that is in front of me as an entrepreneur of color. But I am in this because I understand the importance of being in this space of developing and creating for people that look like me.”
— Kistein Monkhouse, Founder and CEO, Patient Orator

Defining Health Equity

“Health equity, at the most basic level, means that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as they can be. What does that mean in practice? It means that we, broadly as a society, think about the obstacles to health. That includes racism, poverty, discrimination, when people don’t have a voice and when they don’t have access to housing or economic and educational opportunities. We call these root causes the social determinants of health, and, in some ways, they end up having an even larger impact on health equity than access to healthcare itself.”
— Dr. Allison Arwady, Commissioner, Chicago Department of Public Health

Healthcare 2040: How AI Will Transform Clinical Decision Making
Brought to you by Hillrom

“Bias is a big concern today throughout the field of artificial intelligence. It is necessary to address it now and to lean in. I’m encouraged by what I’m seeing, not only at Microsoft, but elsewhere — full standing committees, internal and external, leaning in on AI ethics and diversity and inclusivity across datasets…. There’s this incredible synergistic effect of being inclusive that gives us better answers, better science and better treatment in medicine without increasing diagnostic odyssey.”
— Dr. Greg Moore, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Health Next

Thank you!

Despite the world’s ongoing challenges, the MATTER community has thrived in our collective mission to accelerate the pace of change of healthcare. We treasure the opportunity to work with such an outstanding group of experts, idealists and passionate builders — and can’t wait to see what we will all accomplish together in 2022.

Join the MATTER community in 2022.