Premier oral health accelerator attracts industry leaders to validate and scale solutions for oral health transformation and health equity

April 21, 2022 (BOSTON, MA and CHICAGO, IL) — CareQuest Innovation Partners and MATTER today announce the addition of leading industry partners and more than $1 million in available investment capital to SMILE Health, a first-of-its-kind program to identify and accelerate early-stage startups at the intersection of oral health improvement and health equity advancement.

Since its launch in mid-March, SMILE Health has already attracted 14 leading industry organizations spanning the medical, dental, consumer goods, venture capital, and insurance industries as well as academia to serve as key partners. Recognizing the unique focus of SMILE Health, this diverse group of organizations and leaders will support the first cohort of startups looking to accelerate new solutions to provide accessible, equitable, and integrated oral health in a manner that is Simple, Minimally Invasive, Integrated, Low-barrier, and Equitable — or SMILE.  

“The unprecedented response to SMILE Health speaks to both the importance of our challenge — creating a more accessible, equitable, and integrated oral health system for everyone — and the very real innovation gap that currently exists in oral health,” said Mariya Filipova, chief innovation officer of CareQuest Innovation Partners. “Partners are joining us from all corners of the health care ecosystem. Their participation creates an unparalleled platform to scale validated solutions that will transform oral health for those who need them the most.”  

Organizations can join SMILE Health as Impact and/or Scale Partners to help validate participating startups’ solutions to make them market-ready and provide capital and access to customers.

The growing list of partners includes (in alphabetical order):

  • 42 North Dental
  • Colgate-Palmolive Company
  • Columbia University College of Dental Medicine
  • Demos Capital LLC
  • DentalMarketIQ
  • DentaQuest
  • Enable Dental
  • MouthWatch
  • P&R Dental Strategies
  • Procter & Gamble/Crest Oral-B
  • Revere Partners
  • Seae Ventures
  • USAble Life
  • Washington Dental Service

“The dental entrepreneur and investment community is eager to rally behind SMILE Health because the opportunities to advance innovation in oral health systems change have been so few and far between,” said Jeremy Krell, DMD, MBA, managing partner at Revere Partners. “There is high adoption of oral technology within the high-growth DSO sector in an effort to achieve true growth and optimize patient outcomes.”

Impact Partners will provide SMILE Health startups with the opportunity to test and refine solutions, business models, and product market fit in real-world settings by designing and steering 4–6-week validation studies. They’ll also have early access to the full pipeline of SMILE Health solutions and the opportunity to deploy them first.

“As a dental benefits administrator serving more than 33 million people nationwide, the majority of whom are low-income children and families enrolled in Medicaid, we see firsthand – and at scale – the obstacles people face in accessing high quality preventive dental care,” said Steve Pollock, president and CEO of DentaQuest. “SMILE Health is unique in its approach to rapidly validate and deploy solutions designed to address these obstacles. Given DentaQuest’s mission to improve the oral health of all, we are eager to support entrepreneurs working toward a more equitable, healthier future.”

Scale Partners will serve as go-to-market partners, providing participating startups with access to potential customers. Importantly, Scale Partners commit to making capital available to SMILE Health startups that meet their individual investment criteria. To date, Scale Partners and CareQuest Innovation Partners have collectively earmarked $1M in available funding for participating startups that meet specific funding criteria.

“Colgate-Palmolive is excited to join SMILE Health as both an Impact and Scale Partner,” said Maria Ryan, DDS, PhD, Chief Clinical Officer. “Access to affordable preventive oral health care remains out of reach for far too many. As a result, rampant oral disease has become a national and global health crisis disproportionately impacting underserved and under-resourced communities. SMILE Health presents a unique opportunity to support novel ideas and solutions to address oral health inequity and help us fulfill our company’s purpose to reimagine a healthier future for all.”

In addition to Impact and Scale Partners, SMILE Health has also added more than 100 reviewers, mentors, and faculty to support startups throughout the 13-week program.

“With this announcement, we now have the strongest group of partners arrayed to support startups who are building novel solutions to improve oral health and advance health equity,” said Steven Collens, CEO of MATTER. “Startups need capital as well as non-monetary support, and with this group we have what we need to change the trajectory of oral health innovation to benefit all.”

The SMILE Health global call for early-stage startups remains open through April 22. Interested entrepreneurs can visit carequestinnovation.com/smile to learn more and apply. Organizations or individuals interested in joining SMILE Health as a partner can register at carequestinnovation.com/smile-health-get-involved/.

About CareQuest Innovation Partners

CareQuest Innovation Partners propels solutions that transform oral health. Together with investors, innovators, entrepreneurs, care providers, and community partners, we validate and scale new ways to improve overall health through oral health. Joined by the shared mission to improve the oral health of all, CareQuest Innovation Partners is the for-profit subsidiary of CareQuest Institute. To learn more, visit carequestinnovation.com.

About MATTER

At MATTER, we believe collaboration is the best way to improve healthcare. The MATTER collaborative includes more than 275 cutting-edge startups from around the world, working together with dozens of hospitals and health systems, universities and industry-leading companies to build the future of healthcare. Together we are accelerating innovation, advancing care, and improving lives. For more information, visit matter.health and follow @MATTERhealth.

Direct Media Inquiries to:

Kristin LaRoche

klaroche@carequest.org

857-275-5038