CareQuest Innovation Partners and MATTER launch SMILE Health to advance innovation for accessible, equitable, and integrated oral care
First-of-its-kind program seeks early-stage startups that deliver transformative, disruptive solutions to improve overall health
March 14, 2022, BOSTON and CHICAGO — CareQuest Innovation Partners, a company focused on validating and scaling solutions that improve the oral health of all, in partnership with MATTER, the premier healthcare incubator and innovation hub, today launched SMILE Health — a first-of-its-kind program designed to identify and accelerate early-stage startups at the intersection of oral health improvement and health equity advancement. SMILE is an acronym that underscores the innovations the program seeks: Simple, Minimally Invasive, Integrated, Low-barrier and Equitable.
The global open call is focused on addressing critical needs in oral health. One in five Americans do not have adequate access to oral healthcare. And for many who do, the cost of care is insurmountable. Dental expenses account for a quarter of all healthcare out-of-pocket spending — that means, in aggregate, patients are personally paying $55 billion annually for dental care. Whether due to a lack of providers, high cost, social barriers or infrastructure challenges, getting to and paying for dental care is difficult for too many people. SMILE Health wants to change that. It is looking for innovators that are:
- Developing preventive or minimally invasive care solutions delivered both inside and outside of the dental offices
- Advancing racial, socioeconomic, and geographical equity in oral healthcare
- Bridging the gap between medical care and dental care to improve health outcomes
“Oral health is often seen as separate from overall health, when, in reality, oral health is a critical component of whole-person care,” said Mariya Filipova, chief innovation officer at CareQuest Innovation Partners. “Now more than ever, patients, providers and communities need integrated solutions that make oral care an integral part of the overall healthcare experience. We designed SMILE Health in response to that need.”
Filipova continued, “Our imperative at CareQuest Innovation Partners is to seek out and accelerate to market the next generation of transformative solutions that will make oral health more accessible, equitable and integrated. SMILE Health offers a handful of entrepreneurs the opportunity to build that future.”
Applications are open from March 14 through April 22. Up to 10 early-stage startups will be selected to participate in the 12-week program that features access to dedicated mentors; a curated curriculum incorporating subject matter experts in oral health, innovation and venture capital; and bespoke validation studies with potential customers that will help participants refine key offerings. Participants will receive a $10,000 stipend to support their participation. Selected startup teams will be matched with SMILE Health impact partners. These partners will help to validate solutions by providing resources, access to data, subject matter experts and feedback.
“The dental industry is ripe for disruption. We see unparalleled opportunities, especially in early-stage companies,” said Jeremy Krell, DMD, MBA, managing partner at Revere Partners, the first independent venture fund for oral health. “By partnering with SMILE Health, we are joining forces with one of the most respected thought leaders in the industry to identify and scale transformative and disruptive solutions that can improve overall health.”
“Closing the equity gap in oral healthcare requires new solutions created by and for historically overlooked communities,” said Tuoyo Louis, co-founder and managing partner of Seae Ventures, a leading healthcare service and technology fund. “That is why Seae Ventures is thrilled to be a SMILE Health partner, staying true to our commitment to support diverse entrepreneurs and industry-shaping solutions.”
The program culminates in a Demo Day in September, during which the cohort will present their solutions to a group of industry leaders, including potential investors, partners and clients.
“Innovations focused on improving oral health have lagged the tremendous advances focused on medicine,” said Steven Collens, CEO of MATTER. “SMILE Health is the beginning of the end of that unfortunate dynamic, and we couldn’t be more enthusiastic about partnering with CareQuest Innovation Partners on this work.”
For more information, visit the challenge page at carequestinnovation.com/smile.
About CareQuest Innovation Partners
CareQuest Innovation Partners propels solutions that transform oral health. Together with investors, innovators, entrepreneurs, care providers, and community partners, we validate and scale new ways to improve overall health through oral health. Joined by the shared mission to improve the oral health of all, CareQuest Innovation Partners is the for-profit subsidiary of CareQuest Institute. To learn more, visit carequestinnovation.com.
At MATTER, we believe collaboration is the best way to improve healthcare. The MATTER collaborative includes more than 700 current and alumni startups from around the world, working together with dozens of hospitals and health systems, universities and industry-leading companies to build the future of healthcare. Together we are accelerating innovation, advancing care and improving lives. For more information, visit matter.health and follow @MATTERhealth.