Startup Day Cleveland with HHS: Cracking the Code on Tech Innovation for Federal Agencies

Tech startups won’t want to miss this unique opportunity to interact with and gain insights from federal agencies.

Startup Day Cleveland takes place on Thursday, November 8 from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm at the HIMSS Innovation & Conference Center in the downtown Global Center for Health Innovation. The event features the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) and has already traveled to seven U.S. cities spreading the word on how startups can find resources and contacts for tech solutions designed to meet the needs of federal government agencies.

Small startup companies get an unusual chance to meet representatives from agencies including HHS, the Department of Commerce, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and others. The agencies are looking to share information on their programs and funding — including policy goals and innovation objectives. The eligible startups can pitch their solution at the event and receive feedback and direction.

Why Startup Days Are Needed

The HHS Startup Day grew out of the 2017 Connected Health Conference in Boston. The idea was to bring tech innovators from different U.S. cities together to collaborate and help each other advance new solutions needed by federal government agencies. At an early roundtable discussion, startup owners said their biggest pain point was a lack of access to the federal department of HHS – whether it was asking the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) about payment and reimbursement or seeking answers on health IT policy from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC).

“They just didn’t know where to start, who to ask, or what door to knock on,” said Stephen Konya, senior innovation strategist with ONC. “Our chief technology officer at HHS said we need to open the doors to this massive organization and turn it outward. We need to go to the communities and be accessible.”

What came next was HSS Startup Days, a series of presentations to demystify what government agencies do. “We let innovation communities know who we are and why they should know about our programs, our regulations and resources. And we give them the opportunity to interact in a casual setting,” said Konya.

These lunch table conversations gave startups a better sense for federal agencies, while giving HHS insights into the roadblocks to innovation, including restrictive or misunderstood policies.