Massachusetts expands Digital Health R&D Sandbox Program, adds sites in Cambridge, Boston, and western Massachusetts

The MIT Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES) has become one of the three, new, healthcare R&D hub sites selected by the Massachusetts eHealth Institute at MassTech (MeHI), joining the Digital Health Sandbox Network. This transformative program connects Massachusetts-based startups to cutting-edge research and development (R&D) facilities, and allows them the opportunity to apply for funding to test their innovations at one of the network’s labs. In addition to the IMES program, the new additions to the roster of Sandbox locations are Brigham Digital Innovation Hub (iHub) in Boston and TechSpring at Baystate Health in Springfield, Mass.

In addition, MeHI has selected two startups—eMotion Rx of Cambridge and Stability Health of Worcester— to test and validate their products and services at PracticePoint at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), the first sandbox in the network. MeHI will award an $85,000 grant to PracticePoint, which will allow the two startups to develop and refine their products, gaining access to PracticePoint’s resources, tools, and expertise, with the funds covering membership fees and the purchase of materials for each company’s project.

Through the Sandbox Grant program, we hope to reduce the time, cost, and resources required to test innovative digital health solutions that are ‘Made in Massachusetts,’” said Laurance Stuntz, MeHI Director and a member of the Governor’s Digital Health Council. “By expanding the roster of Sandbox locations in the Network, we’re offering both Massachusetts and non-Massachusetts startups expanded access to tools and test beds that could be a springboard for their growth. Our hope is that by working with these world-class facilities and staff, startups can improve on their product and shorten the time to market, helping deliver their products into the hands of healthcare consumers around the world more quickly.”

The IMES Clinical Research Center (CRC) sandbox program will support multidisciplinary research in human health, including device and algorithm research from concept to clinical translation. The IMES CRC helps to support the complete clinical research life cycle by providing resources to support protocol design, regulatory compliance, clinical consultation, iterative design, oversight and participant monitoring, in addition to operationalizing clinical research protocols. The CRC spans 11,650 square feet of reconfigurable and flexible testing space that easily conforms to a variety of settings: such as home, outpatient and/or hospital. Also available is the Clinical Biomedical Pre-research Services, a state-of-the-art biomedical research institute located in Lexington, Mass. Companies collaborating with IMES will have access to a cutting-edge lab and experienced researchers and clinical partners, including the following:

  • It will provide both a user experience as well as data repository for testing environments.
  • It will feature several settings for research, including home settings, outpatient and pre-clinical.
  • Access to the Immersion Lab, which is housed in MIT.nano. This is a two-story, state-of-the-art space for research in visualization, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), and for the depiction and analysis of spatially related data. The Immersion Lab is an open-access research space whose mission is to propel research and education.
  • A fully equipped core lab with a functional wet lab, processing lab and freezer for specimen storage.
  • A lab staffed with experienced clinicians and technicians, equipped with standard care physiologic monitoring, gait analysis, tilt table, treadmill and motion capture capabilities.
  • A prototyping facility located adjacent to facilitate iterative design with a 3-D printer, drill press and various instrumentation and tools to support experimentation.
  • Access to The Athinoula A. Martinos Imaging Center, a core facility at MIT,  that provides access to state-of-the-art brain imaging technologies including: Magnetoencephalography (MEG), Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and Electroencephalography (EEG)

Also available is the Clinical Biomedical Pre-research Services (CBSET), a cutting-edge biomedical research institute located in Lexington, MA. This is a not-for-profit entity, whose mission is to advance biomedical research through innovative, high-quality pre-clinical services to achieve the scientific, regulatory and commercial goals of our partners. This 40,000 square-foot facility is GLP-compliant, OLAW-assured, AAALAC-accredited and includes vivaria, procedure rooms, catheterization and imaging labs, surgical and necropsy suites, histopathology, SEM and a range of other technologies.

“Massachusetts is one of the top states for R&D, patents, and overall innovation, due in large part to the world-class test facilities that exist across the Commonwealth,” said Carolyn Kirk, Executive Director of the MassTech Collaborative, MeHI’s parent agency.

“By increasing access to these digital health test beds, we’re increasing opportunities for Massachusetts digital health startups to grow their product and become globally competitive. For companies outside the state, we’ve created another reason to move to Massachusetts, by knitting together a network of innovative digital health test beds that feature leading engineers and tech experts, plus access to innovative healthcare organizations.”

Applications for the Sandbox Network and Grant Program are being accepted on a rolling basis. The program is expanding to include additional sandboxes across the state, in order to provide startups with a variety of testing environments and services.

* Originally published here: