AVIA lands $7.2 million investment

John Pletz–(Crain’s Chicago Business)–AVIA, a Chicago-based consulting firm that helps hospitals focus on innovation and find startup partners, has raised more money and signed up more members.

The company raised $7.2 million, led by Froedtert, a Milwaukee-based hospital system. Other investors included Rush University Medical Center, Peoria-based OSF Healthcare, Providence Health & Services of Renton, Wash., and St. Luke’s University Health Network of Bethlehem, Pa., as well as Chicago-based venture funds Jump Capital and Jumpstart Ventures. Two years ago, AVIA raised $6 million.

AVIA has grown to 22 members, big hospital systems that pay the firm for strategic advice and for it to screen potential partners for new technologies or innovation that can help control costs, improve treatment and increase revenue. “Health systems really are getting at it and are serious about transforming their businesses,” says founder Eric Langshur.

In two-and-a-half years, the company has grown from 10 employees to 36. With the new investment, Avia plans to double headcount in the next year. Its members operate more than 350 hospitals, up from about 70 two years ago.

AVIA connects the nation’s biggest hospitals with startups. The pitch to both is it can dramatically shorten the time it takes for them to find the right partners and get down to business. “We start with their strategic plan and business issues, and we develop a road map,” Langshur said. “How do we help them compress time and do it more efficiently?”

He points to a recent case in which a large health system and a tech startup that makes a tool for a hospital to communicate with patients after they’re discharged went from introduction to a contract in two months. “That’s remarkable for health care,” Langshur said.

An earlier version of this article neglected to mention Froedtert as lead investor.