SMILE Health 2024: CareQuest Innovation Partners and MATTER announce its largest cohort

CareQuest Innovation Partners in partnership with MATTER has announced their selection of emerging startups to participate in the SMILE Health 2024 programme.

SMILE Health 2024
(Image: CareQuest Innovation Partners and MATTER)

Six startups were selected from an impressive group of applicants from 11 countries and 27 US states, with more than 50% of founders representing ethnic or racial minority groups.

Spanning a range of technologies that address the program’s key focus areas, selected startup solutions deepen connections between oral health and the broader health care system from novel, preventive therapies to telehealth and integrated health services meeting consumers where they are, including at home, in clinics, and online. The selected companies for SMILE Health 2024 are DentKits, DifferentKind, Oraliva, ThriveLink, Umayana, and Yumlish.

“We are thrilled with the high calibre of startups participating in this year’s SMILE Health program, furthering the momentum towards integrated health,” said Katie D’Amico, vice-president of growth & innovation at CareQuest Innovation Partners. “As our largest and most diverse cohort in the history of SMILE Health, this year’s innovative startups, together with our industry-leading partners, are redefining how we care for the whole person, inclusive of their oral health, and igniting the health innovation ecosystem to drive better health outcomes for all.”

According to the partners, the oral health care crisis in the US is exacerbated by a historic lack of investment in the industry. Oral diseases lead to US$710bn in treatment costs and productivity losses worldwide each year.

Yet, in the US, dental startups poised to address these challenges raised less than US$200m in funding in 2023, compared to the nearly US$17bn raised by US health care startups in the same year according to a Crunchbase analysis.

Through SMILE Health, CareQuest Innovation Partners is activating a growing ecosystem of partners to accelerate investment and innovation, advance health equity, and propel solutions that integrate dental and medical health care.

Throughout the 12-week programme, startups will be matched with mission-aligned industry partners, including Cigna Healthcare; Colgate-Palmolive Company; DentaQuest, part of SunLife US; and Henry Schein, among others, to validate their solutions in line with specific programme tracks, as previously announced.

The selected startups receive a stipend, access to multi-disciplinary experts across health care, dedicated mentors, curated curriculum, and key business insights. No equity is required from the startups.

The program culminates on 22 Oct 2024 with a demo day at the HLTH conference in Las Vegas, US. SMILE Health startups will pitch their solutions on the Startup Stage to an assortment of health care leaders, including potential investors, partners, and clients.

Following the programme’s completion, startups from the cohort will have access to resources from both MATTER and CareQuest Innovation Partners, including the opportunity to apply for CareQuest Innovation Partners’ ACCELERATE program, which provides incremental funding to further collaboration with partners on industry-advancing projects.

Related: CareQuest Innovation Partners and MATTER announce new partners and startups joining second cohort of SMILE Health programme