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

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

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

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

 
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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.

 
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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.

 
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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.

 
Sean Ammirati    Co-Founder & Director, CMU Corporate Startup Lab    Adjunct Professor at Carnegie Mellon University    Partner at Birchmere Ventures

Sean Ammirati

Co-Founder & Director, CMU Corporate Startup Lab

Adjunct Professor at Carnegie Mellon University

Partner at Birchmere Ventures

Sean Ammirati is a Venture Capitalist, teaches graduate entrepreneurship courses at Carnegie Mellon, and leads a lab at CMU dedicated to helping large companies better adapt and integrate entrepreneurial best practices into their own innovation processes.

Earlier in his career, Sean spent a dozen years founding, building and selling businesses in the software and media industries.  He started and sold 3 businesses including being the co-founder and CEO of mSpoke, which was LinkedIn's first acquisition.

He recently completed his first book The Science of Growth, which was released by St Martin's Press in April 2016 and was subsequently translated and published in Korean and Mandarin.

Simone Grapini-Goodman    Vice President, Academic Partnerships, Optum

Simone Grapini-Goodman

Vice President, Academic Partnerships, Optum

Simone has devoted over 15 years to improving the health of Americans through access to quality health care. She has done this at both the health care services/delivery level through a 10-year tenure with Optum in various integrated marketing and product strategy leadership roles and on the benefits side with 6 years spent leading digital & social strategy with UnitedHealthcare.

She now leads Academic Partnerships for Optum’s Advanced Technology Collaborative and looks to accelerate the enterprise through her work with top universities in areas of: data & analytics, generating value in the practice of health care and health care workforce development.

Simone holds an MBA from University of Maryland and an undergraduate degree in business and computer science from Texas A&M University.

Danita Kiser    Director of Product Research & Emerging Technologies, Optum

Danita Kiser

Director of Product Research & Emerging Technologies, Optum

Danita has over 20 years’ experience in advanced and emerging technology products, covering areas such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, big data technologies and analytics, gaming, media distribution, cloud services and mobile applications.

As Director of Research at Optum, she’s responsible for connecting research and emerging technology to real-life health care use cases in an effort to make the health care system better for everyone.

Prior to Optum, she worked at Turner Broadcasting, AOL, Cox Communications and multiple first-round start-ups.

Danita earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and mathematics from University of Virginia and a M.S. and Ph.D. in chemistry from Emory University.

Terry Hickey    Director of Technology, UnitedHealthcare

Terry Hickey

Director of Technology, UnitedHealthcare

Terry is passionate about helping others and solving big problems. He began his entrepreneurial journey as a co-founder of a landscaping company while at Indiana University. He was employee five of a transportation technology company, and later launched his own technology services firm. While at UnitedHealth Group, he was a key architect in the evolution of the Lean Startup Garage, launched several business models as an Entrepreneur in Residence, and led Future Trends pathways.

He now contributes to the transformation of Medicare and Medicaid business models through innovation, entrepreneurial best practices and emerging technology. He’s also a mentor at the Center for Healthcare Innovation and Implementation Science, TechStars, and active in his local start up community.

Terry holds an undergraduate degree in economics from Indiana University.

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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