di , 12/12/2023

Health Care Service Corporation, Laerdal Million Lives Fund, BayCare, Parkview Health, University of Chicago Medicine, Organon and Stryker to support cohort of women’s health startups; including $125,000 of investment for each selected company

CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–MATTER, the premier healthcare incubator and innovation hub, has opened applications for the second 51 Labs, an accelerator focused on women’s health. This year’s program focuses on preventing maternal mortality in the U.S. before, during and after birth and receives support from Health Care Service Corporation, Laerdal Million Lives Fund, BayCare, Parkview Health, University of Chicago Medicine, Organon and Stryker.

Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a report showing that the maternal mortality rate in the U.S. worsened by 40 percent from 2020 to 2021.1 The maternal mortality rate is now the highest in the U.S. since 1965 and is far worse than other industrialized nations.

While all ages and races saw an increase in maternal mortality in 2021, many inequities still exist due to a variety of factors, including but not limited to access to quality care, socioeconomic status, race and education level. For example, Black women are three times as likely to die from pregnancy or pregnancy-related causes as white women in the U.S.2

“51 Labs is designed to address gaps in investment and innovation in women’s health,” said Steven Collens, CEO of MATTER. “We are pleased to partner with seven key industry stakeholders to help a cohort of startups advance solutions to help address the maternal mortality crisis in the U.S.”

The Laerdal Million Lives Fund, a global venture capital fund dedicated to transformative technologies that can help save lives, will serve as a capital partner for this cohort of 51 Labs companies. “Many maternal deaths are preventable. By investing in enabling technologies and digital solutions that can drive early interventions with high life saving potential and quality improvement initiatives, we can help scale companies working in this critical area,” said Becca Shmukler, principal of Laerdal Million Lives Fund.

The second cohort of the 51 Labs accelerator will address the question:

How can we prevent maternal mortality in the U.S. before, during and after birth?

The program will have three tracks: 1) supporting access to regular prenatal care to identify and mitigate potential risk factors earlier; 2) lowering the incidence of maternal health complications; and 3) supporting mothers during the 12 months after giving birth.

“It’s critically important to support innovative solutions to help moms and babies thrive,” said Dr. Monica Berner, chief clinical officer for Health Care Service Corporation. “Earlier this year, HCSC launched an expanded maternal and infant health initiative to improve health outcomes by increasing access to care, reducing care gaps, and educating and engaging residents on a community level. This 51 Labs program is another way we can help support other innovators who are seeking to tackle this critical issue.”

Applications for the 12-week accelerator are now open. Participating startups will benefit from one-on-one mentoring with industry experts, workshops, interactive roundtable discussions, forums and more. Additionally, each of the selected companies will receive an investment of $125,000, including $100,000 cash from the Laerdal Million Lives Fund and $25,000 of services from MATTER.

The program will culminate with a final showcase in May 2024.


At MATTER, we believe collaboration is the best way to improve healthcare. The MATTER collaborative includes more than 800 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.

About HCSC

Health Care Service Corporation is the country’s largest customer-owned health insurer, serving more than 18.6 million members in its health plans in Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. A Mutual Legal Reserve Company, HCSC is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

About Laerdal Million Lives Fund

The Million Lives Fund invests in entrepreneurs who are developing and deploying new, emerging technologies capable of saving lives and enhancing healthcare quality and outcomes regardless of demographics or geography. The $100 million fund targets digital health and technology companies whose solutions can improve mortality rates and help reach its goal of helping to save 1 million lives annually by 2030. Investments span across medical education innovations to early interventions, therapeutics and tech-enabled care models.

About BayCare

BayCare is a leading not-for-profit healthcare system that connects individuals and families to a wide range of services at 16 hospitals and hundreds of other convenient locations throughout the Tampa Bay and central Florida regions. The system is West Central Florida’s largest provider of behavioral health and pediatric services and its provider group, BayCare Medical Group, is one of the largest in the region. BayCare’s diverse network of ambulatory services includes laboratories, imaging, surgical centers, BayCare Urgent Care locations, wellness centers and one of Florida’s largest home care agencies, BayCare HomeCare. Its Medicare Advantage insurance, BayCarePlus, is among the region’s few 5-star-rated plans and the system is ranked in the top 20 percent of large health systems in the country by FORUTNE/Merative™. BayCare’s mission is to improve the health of all it serves through community-owned, health care services that set the standard for high-quality, compassionate care.

About Parkview Health

Parkview Health is a not-for-profit, community-based health system serving a northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio population of more than 1.3 million. Parkview Health’s mission is to improve health and inspire well-being in the communities it serves. With more than 16,000 co-workers, it is the region’s largest employer. Parkview Health includes 13 hospitals and an extensive network of primary care and specialty care physicians. The flagship Parkview Regional Medical Center campus includes services such as the Parkview Packnett Family Cancer Institute, Parkview Heart Institute, Samaritan flight and ground transport program, Parkview Ortho Hospital, a certified stroke center, verified adult and pediatric trauma centers, Women’s & Children’s Hospital and an outpatient services center. Parkview has been named one of America’s Best-In-State Employers by Forbes and made Newsweek’s list of Top 100 Most Loved Workplaces.

About University of Chicago Medicine

The University of Chicago Medicine, with a history dating back to 1927, is one of the nation’s leading academic medical institutions. UChicago Medicine comprises the University of Chicago Medical Center, which offers a full range of primary and specialty care for adults and children through more than 40 institutes and centers; Ingalls Memorial, a community-based hospital and outpatient facility; a micro-hospital in northwest Indiana, a network of outpatient clinics and physician practices throughout Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana; the Pritzker School of Medicine, one of the top medical schools in the nation; and the University of Chicago Biological Sciences Division, with an affiliated 12 Nobel Prize winners in physiology or medicine.

About Organon

Organon is a global healthcare company formed to focus on improving the health of women throughout their lives. Organon offers more than 60 medicines and products in women’s health in addition to a growing biosimilars business and a large franchise of established medicines across a range of therapeutic areas. Organon’s existing products produce strong cash flows that support investments in innovation and future growth opportunities in women’s health and biosimilars. In addition, Organon is pursuing opportunities to collaborate with biopharmaceutical innovators looking to commercialize their products by leveraging its scale and presence in fast growing international markets.

Organon has a global footprint with significant scale and geographic reach, world-class commercial capabilities, and approximately 10,000 employees with headquarters located in Jersey City, New Jersey.

About Stryker

Stryker is one of the world’s leading medical technology companies and, together with its customers, is driven to make healthcare better. The company offers innovative products and services in Medical and Surgical, Neurotechnology, Orthopaedics and Spine that help improve patient and healthcare outcomes. Alongside its customers around the world, Stryker impacts more than 130 million patients annually.


1Maternal Mortality Rates in the United States, 2021,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2023.

2U.S. Maternal Mortality Hits Highest Level Since 1965,” The Wall Street Journal, 2023.


Julia Cremin