Photo: Jackie Willmot, CEO and co-founder of XLH, stands with coaches, mentors and advisors for the startup accelerator program

XLerateHealth is an early-stage accelerator that is helping budding Louisville entrepreneurs in the healthcare market. We asked to their representative, Kallie Knop, a few questions about what they do and what they like about Louisville.

How did XLerateHealth come to be?

XLerateHealth began as a civic endeavor to fill a void in the marketplace in the early 2000s. There wasn’t a clear path to funding or support for early-stage startups in the market and no healthcare accelerator existed south of Chicago. XLH was born out of a partnership with KY local and state government and has evolved to be one of the longest standing healthcare accelerator programs nationwide. Our Louisville operation is proudly funded by the Louisville Entrepreneurship Acceleration Partnership (LEAP) and the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development.

We support the development of healthcare innovation through our XLH Accelerator, an early-stage accelerator that helps startups commercialize and attract funding, and national initiatives, including the XLerator Network, an NIH-funded partnership with 24 academic institutions to support the commercialization of life science and healthcare innovation in the Southeast Institutional Development Award (IDeA) states.

We launched in 2013 and have worked with over 66 startup companies to-date, with more than 80 percent of those still operational.

What were the advantages of launching this accelerator in Louisville?

The Louisville market is a strategically positioned center of healthcare heritage, knowledge, and innovation. The city is well-connected, home to a major UPS international hub, and resides along the 1-71 / 65 corridor that connects several research universities. There is a strength in science research and rigor in the region, and the city is home to several major healthcare companies, such as Humana and Kindred Health, to support direct customer discovery.

Louisville is a very rich market for healthcare analytics and healthcare services activities but also has been a fertile ground for Life Sciences and Device Companies (Apellis Pharmaceuticals, US World Meds, Summit Bio Science, CreoSalus, and Med Ventures). There is an abundant supply of healthcare and life sciences talent in Louisville, and our leadership team is composed of experts, coaches, and mentors with over 40 years in business, clinical, and scientific practice.

Louisville is a welcoming city with an affordable cost of living and a history of being supportive of entrepreneurs. All of this is prime soil for entrepreneurs to pilot their programs, with the ability to fail fast and evolve without huge financial burden.

Can you describe the three types of pre-venture-funded portfolio companies you support?

XLerateHealth works with Life Science companies (drugs, diagnostics, and devices), digital health companies, and healthcare services companies. We support companies primarily through our Accelerator bootcamp and then continue to support these companies throughout their lifecycle. Our goal and a key theme of our program is that companies come back and remain involved in the accelerator through corporate support and mentorship.

We also support entrepreneurs nationally through our intersession work, which provides an outlet for developing companies in between accelerator cohort sessions, as well as the XLerator Network, which is an NIH-funded partnership with 24 universities across the Southeast to help bring innovation from lab to market.

We are currently accepting applications for our 2020 startup accelerator cohorts in both Louisville, KY, and Flint, MI. We aim to bring all of the entrepreneurs and companies we work with to a level where they are attractive to investors in the years following our program. We look for companies that are solving a large market pain point and focus on high-tech, high-growth opportunities. Apply online by visiting and choose “apply now.”