Avia lands $6 million hires, former Accretive exec

By John Pletz, Chicago Business

Avia, a startup that helps hospitals find the next big things in health innovation, has lined up new funding, new customers and a new president.

The Chicago-based company raised $6 million from investors, including Chicago-based Jump Capital, as well as existing investors 7-Wire Ventures and Jumpstart Ventures.

Avia has nearly doubled its number of customers — health systems and medical centers — to 70, adding the Mayo Clinic, NorthShore University HealthSystem and Sutter Health, a 24-hospital system based in Sacramento, California.

Avia says all 40 of its initial customers, which include Northwestern Memorial Hospital, renewed contracts.

Eric Langshur

Eric Langshur

The company, launched last year, also hired Linda Finkel, an executive at Accretive Health Inc., as president. She was chief operating officer of an Accretive unit called Population Health, which had nearly 150 employees at its peak. Avia co-founder Eric Langshur remains CEO.

Avia helps hospitals identify specific areas of innovation and startup companies that can help provide it. So far, the firm has connected hospitals such as Providence Health & Services in Renton, Washington, with startups such as Tonic Health Systems Inc., a Palo Alto, California, company that makes software for collecting patient data. (Providence also led the new investment.)

The company, which recently moved from Ravenswood to the Loop, has grown to 15 employees from 10 since January and plans to hire more, Ms. Finkel said.

Avia also plans to invest in, and advise, some of the startups. The company said it will use some of the new funding to invest in startups.

It's riding a soaring wave of investment in health-related startups. Accenture predicts that funding digital health startups in the U.S. will hit $6.5 billion by 2017, up from $2.8 billion last year.

Avia grew out of Abundant Venture Partners, a holding company launched in 2011 by Mr. Langshur and Andrew Swinand, former president of Starcom MediaVest Group, to start and invest in companies in a variety of industries, including health care. Mr. Langshur founded CarePages Inc., which allows families to set up Web pages to keep friends and family informed about loved ones during long hospital stays.