Optum wants to make health care work better for everyone. This depends on bringing together the best and brightest.


Through the Optum Startup Studio, we help the Carnegie Mellon University community build and grow ideas into startups through an immersive, full academic year program that puts a network of resources within your reach.


Here’s how it works:  

  1. Optum shares challenges in areas of importance to our industry, aligned with health care’s triple aim:

    • Reduce total cost of care

    • Improve patient outcomes

    • Boost patient experience

  2. Startup teams submit their ideas in support of these challenges.

  3. Our panel of industry, academic and entrepreneur experts evaluate the submissions and select the startup ideas that will be funded.

Startup teams work on their businesses through the full extent of the academic year, receiving a variety of resources. The experience culminates with a Demo Day.

Optum provides


Investment: Once accepted into our program, we make a $50,000 investment to help you turn your ideas into viable solutions.


Resources: We can help you with research, infrastructure and other resources to help you innovate and scale rapidly.


Guidance: We surround you with a community of involved advisors – to offer guidance on anything from technology, business strategy, design or product development.


Space: We provide shared office space for meetings & collaboration.


Optum’s Startup Studio’s business sponsors, mentors, governing board and founding team come from Optum and UnitedHealthcare, two complementary business platforms that together form UnitedHealth Group.


Optum is a leading health services innovation company dedicated to helping make the health system work better for everyone. With more than 160,000 people collaborating worldwide, we leverage technology, data and expertise to improve the delivery, quality and efficiency of health care. Learn more about Optum.


UnitedHealthcare serves nearly 50 million individuals globally, delivering valuable health benefits and services to people in all stages of life, at all income levels, through all major health benefits segments.  Learn more about UnitedHealthcare.

Paul Nielsen    Vice President, Strategic Programs & Partnerships, Optum    President, UHG Academy of Technology    Dean, Optum College of AI

Paul Nielsen

Vice President, Strategic Programs & Partnerships, Optum

President, UHG Academy of Technology

Dean, Optum College of AI

Paul Nielsen is a global executive with more than 25 years of experience working with technology companies who design and develop software and hardware solutions for the telecommunications, IT service provider, health care and consumer electronic industries.   Paul has held leadership roles in sales, marketing, business development and executive management positions.  Through his roles in these companies, Paul has driven advanced technologies into the market that generated operational savings, increased average revenue per user, competitive advantages and customer retention.   

Paul earned a Bachelor of Science degree in science and computer science from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

From idea to impact, from research to revenue, we’re here to help.

Our network supporting the startups includes Carnegie Mellon University academic thought leaders, investors and industry experts from across Optum, UnitedHealthcare and UnitedHealth Group. We represent a multitude of disciplines, including technology, business strategy, human capital, operations, entrepreneurship, and finance. We know diverse perspectives are crucial to helping you build solutions that make the system work better for everyone.

If you’re a Carnegie Mellon University academic community member looking for support with a startup, or have an idea that you’re looking to test and grow, Optum Startup Studio can be the place for you.

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