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SMILE Health 2024: CareQuest Innovation Partners and MATTER Announce Largest Cohort of Startups to Date for Oral Health Accelerator Program


CareQuest Innovation Partners, a company focused on validating and scaling transformative solutions to improve overall health through oral health for all, in partnership with MATTER, the premier health care incubator and innovation hub, today announced their selection of emerging startups to participate in the third year of the SMILE Health program.

The oral health care crisis in the US is exacerbated by a historic lack of investment in the industry. Oral diseases lead to $710 billion in treatment costs and productivity losses worldwide each year. Yet, in the US, dental startups poised to address these challenges raised less than $200 million in funding in 2023, compared to the nearly $17 billion raised by US health care startups in the same year according to a Crunchbase analysis. Through SMILE Health, CareQuest Innovation Partners is activating a growing ecosystem of partners to accelerate investment and innovation, advance health equity, and propel solutions that integrate dental and medical health care.

Six startups were selected from an impressive group of applicants from 11 countries and 27 US states, with more than 50 percent of founders representing ethnic or racial minority groups. Spanning a range of technologies that address the program's key focus areas, selected startup solutions deepen connections between oral health and the broader health care system ? from novel, preventive therapies to telehealth and integrated health services meeting consumers where they are, including at home, in clinics, and online. Selected companies are DentKits, DifferentKind, Oraliva, ThriveLink, Umayana, and Yumlish.

"We are thrilled with the high caliber of startups participating in this year's SMILE Health program, furthering the momentum towards integrated health," said Katie D'Amico, vice president of growth & innovation at CareQuest Innovation Partners. "As our largest and most diverse cohort in the history of SMILE Health, this year's innovative startups, together with our industry-leading partners, are redefining how we care for the whole person, inclusive of their oral health, and igniting the health innovation ecosystem to drive better health outcomes for all."

Throughout the 12-week program, startups will be matched with mission-aligned industry partners, including Cigna Healthcare; Colgate-Palmolive Company; DentaQuest, part of SunLife U.S.; and Henry Schein, among others, to validate their solutions in line with specific program tracks, as previously announced. The selected startups receive a stipend, access to multi-disciplinary experts across health care, dedicated mentors, curated curriculum, and key business insights. No equity is required from the startups.

The program culminates on October 22, 2024 with a demo day at the HLTH conference in Las Vegas. SMILE Health startups will pitch their solutions on the Startup Stage to an assortment of health care leaders, including potential investors, partners, and clients. Following the program's completion, startups from the cohort will have access to resources from both MATTER and CareQuest Innovation Partners, including the opportunity to apply for CareQuest Innovation Partners' ACCELERATE program, which provides incremental funding to further collaboration with partners on industry-advancing projects.

"SMILE Health creates unique opportunities for startups to accelerate their development and for large, institutional players to explore and test emerging solutions," said Steven Collens, CEO of MATTER. "We appreciate the opportunity to work with CareQuest Innovation Partners and this cohort of outstanding entrepreneurs to help shape a brighter, more connected health care future."

Learn more about the 2024 cohort:

DentKits | Las Vegas, NV
DentKits provides at-home dentures utilizing digital denture and teledental technologies. DentKits is improving access to dental care for underserved and vulnerable populations by offering dentist-prescribed dentures that are both convenient and affordable.

DifferentKind | Buena Vista, CO
DifferentKind is an experience management leader in oral health, producing data and insights from patients and teams that drive improved outcomes for patients, practices, and payers.

Oraliva | Durham, NC
Oraliva provides non-invasive, clinically validated, AI-assisted diagnostics for screening oral lesions. This innovative solution delivers highly accurate diagnostic information to dental and medical providers.

ThriveLink | St. Louis, MO
ThriveLink deploys AI telephonic enrollment agents to help families verbally enroll in social and health programs including health insurance, food stamps, utility assistance, and more. The solution does not require the internet, a smartphone, or the ability to read.

Umayana | Istanbul, Turkey
Umayana is a biotech company with a range of products, Murnia, which prevent and treat severe cancer and acute wounds with its patented molecular compound and formulations. Umayana helps cancer patients suffering from wounds like oral mucositis.

Yumlish | Dallas, TX
Yumlish provides tech-enabled, culturally affirming health education programs for Medicaid enrollees, starting in Spanish-speaking populations. Through YumVivo!, Yumlish will provide access to reliable oral health education in these communities.

About CareQuest Innovation Partners
CareQuest Innovation Partners® validates and scales transformative solutions to improve overall health through oral health. Together, with our ecosystem of leading industry partners, startups, and investors we make health care more accessible, equitable, and integrated. 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 and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

About MATTER
MATTER, the premier healthcare incubator and innovation hub, includes more than 1,000 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, the MATTER community is accelerating innovation, advancing care and improving lives. For more information, visit matter.health and follow @MATTERhealth.


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