Early in the pandemic, Hubert Zajicek moved fast to build an innovation response team to support medical professionals.
Zajicek assembled a”rapid reaction force” of people who were “able and willing to tackle any issues that may come up as a result of a national health crisis,” he says of the Health Hacking Crisis Network (HHCN) he created last year.
Moving quickly from idea to execution in the spring of 2020, he connected like-minded people to facilitate innovation and created an exchange of know-how. As a result, HHCN helped fill a vital need in the pandemic: PPE. The network’s innovators created cloth masks, face shields, and even snorkel masks to be converted into personal protective equipment. Some 30,000 cloth masks have been delivered so far.
Zajicek says innovation “is the engine that keeps our nation at the forefront.”
The U.S. is “unique in its ability to enable innovators to execute on ideas,” says Zajicek, a medical doctor who is a native of Austria, in D CEO. “The innovation I see in digital health, even applied to pharma or medical devices, is stunning.”
Best known as the co-founder and CEO of Health Wildcatters, a Dallas seed-stage healthcare fund and accelerator, Zajicek is a champion of the healthcare innovation community here and beyond.
“In healthcare, there is no goal too bold to be excited about,” he says.
Last fall, Health Wildcatters “ran a whole startup acceleration program online for three months in six time zones” and added nine new companies to its portfolio, Zajicek says. To date, it’s invested in some 70 healthcare startups, which have attracted over $100 million in capital.
Zajicek was recently honored as the Innovation Advocate of the Year in the D CEO and Dallas Innovates 2021 Innovation Awards. He’s also credited with raising life science research awareness and impacting innovation in the sector, garnering an award from BioNorth Texas last fall.
What’s next for Health Wildcatters?
Health Wildcatters is partnering with United Way on Metropolitan Dallas to implement its Health Innovation Technology Challenge, a social innovation competition with $1 million in prizes. The challenge aims to increase access to preventative health care and improve mental health in North Texas.
Applications for the competition will close on March 1, and winners will be announced in May.
In addition, “we’re talking to several larger entities about partnering in 2021 and giving our startups more access to valuable potential strategic partners,” Zajicek tells Dallas Innovates.
“In addition, there’s some interesting not-for-profit ideas and international expansion ideas on the table.”
Quincy Preston contributed to this story. A version of this story was originally published in Dallas Innovates 2021: The Resilience Issue.
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