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Nicole Bell, executive director at Cambia Grove.

As Seattle looks to become an innovation hub for healthcare, Cambia Grove wants to play a role in that movement.

cambiagrove3The new 9,000 square-foot center in downtown Seattle opens its doors this Friday and will serve as a community meeting place for entrepreneurs, investors, corporate execs, researchers, doctors, government officials, and anyone else interested in coming up with solutions for some of the biggest challenges in the healthcare industry.

Portland-based Cambia Health Solutions, the parent company of Regence and other health-care companies, created Cambia Grove as a way to break down the silos between startups coming into healthcare for the first time and established players in the market.

“The longer-term goal is to make Seattle a known healthcare cluster,” said Nicole Bell, executive director at Cambia Grove. “This is how we believe we can start.”

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GeekWire today got a sneak peek inside the space, which is designed for anyone in the healthcare community to walk in and have meetings, conduct business, or do work. Contrary to a co-working space, accelerator or incubator, Cambia Grove is simply a place to connect without having to be a member or pay an entry fee.

“We want this to be another version of your home,” Bell said.

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The space itself is versatile, with enough room for a 100-person networking event but also offering private offices and conference rooms for entrepreneurs to pitch investors or professors to hold small classes.

“We worked with our architects for a long time before settling on a concept that would be comfortable and inviting enough, yet could foster an environment where we could get work done,” Bell said.

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Cambia Grove has teamed up with “anchor partners” like UW Medicine, Regence BlueShield and Qliance that have agreed to meet with entrepreneurs and startups in the space to talk about the problems they face. The idea is to have the same entrepreneurs explore ways to solve those problems, and if there’s a match, the partners could serve as a pilot facility for the solutions the startups create.

cambiagrove6The partners have already committed to one pilot project per year with a young startup.

“They can come here and talk about problems they face and how they need a more novel approach than what they’ve been able to do within their own four walls,” Bell explained.

As Bell noted, the long-term vision for Cambia Grove is to help make Seattle a center for healthcare innovation.

“We are one piece of ultimately getting there,” Bell said.

There is also no revenue generation at Cambia Grove, as Cambia Health Solutions is a non-profit holding company.

“It’s an evolution of our mission to fund a space like this,” Bell noted. “If we used a charge model, that would work against our community effort, and if we can’t all be in it together for this region, then it’s not going to work.”

Learn more about Cambia Grove here.

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