Jefferson, Independence Blue Cross team up on $2 million effort to foster creativity

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    Independence Blue Cross and Jefferson University are collaborating on a new venture to fund innovative projects, including an entrepreneurs-in-residence program. Each entity will contribute $1 million in funding.

    “We need new ideas,” said Dr. Steven Udvarhelyi, executive vice president for health services and chief strategy officer for Independence Blue Cross. “The entrepreneurs-in-residence program basically creates training, support, time, funding for people to get out of their day-to-day and to have a way for people to think differently.”

    Dr. Stephen Klasko, president of Thomas Jefferson University and CEO of Jefferson Health, has been developing this idea for the past year. He says more and more pressure is being put on researchers — even if they have a great idea — and academic institutions aren’t necessarily supporting them.

    “Philadelphia has such great assets,” said Klasko. “What if we were able to come up with a model where we took this 190-year-old world class academic medical center and turned it into an entrepreneurial startup company mentality and made innovation as important as academics and healthcare?”

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    Independence Blue Cross and Jefferson University will jointly choose and fund promising ideas that clinicians and researchers pitch to them.

    The residency will only be open to employees of either organization, for now, and is set to begin on July 1.

    Disclosure: Independence Blue Cross supports WHYY.

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