Health & Finance Entrepreneurs, We’re Looking for You

This is the third installment in a five-part series on the CAH’s Startup Lab, our academic incubator program for health and finance tech startups. We’re demystifying why and how a behavioral economics research center at Duke supports and collaborates with entrepreneurs. 

We’re looking for startups that are eager to experiment, and demonstrate a passion for building research-backed solutions to health and finance challenges.

Startup Lab applications are now open until June 30th at 5pm EST. Apply here.

Designing for Humans

We strongly believe that, for the good of those they serve, all companies must consider how humans interact with products and services. Startups that go through our program learn and leverage behavioral findings to create products with behavioral economics built into their DNA.

When the Center for Advanced Hindsight launched the Startup Lab in the fall of 2015, it was designed as an academic incubator. We wanted to enable early stage startups to apply research and leverage rigorous experimentation to improve the effectiveness of their tech products—while also providing researchers with interesting venues for decision-making experiments.

This means that full-time researchers at the CAH enter collaborative relationships with the startups that we invite into the program. Researchers and entrepreneurs work together to conceive, plan, and execute experiments using the startup’s tech platform.

Opening our doors for startups to immerse themselves at the CAH provides a means of exploring behavioral economics and creates collision with behavioral researchers—which ultimately cultivates the ability to apply research findings to real-world solutions.

What we’ve discovered in two short years is that we value the agility and drive that entrepreneurs bring to the table. And it brings us great joy to support off-the-wall solutions to important, behavior-centric problems (and we’ve found that entrepreneurs who are quirky and solution-oriented are often great collaborators).


Solutions for the Real World

At the Center for Advanced Hindsight, we are interested in using research findings to build solutions for the real world. We believe that research should not end with an academic paper, but be utilized further to inform the tools and processes that shape everyday human behavior. To pursue this goal with startups, we designed the mechanism for such research application to be familiar to entrepreneurs: the incubator.


The Startup Lab: A Different Kind of Incubator

The Startup Lab mimics the structure and resources that are found in many incubators—providing startups with investment money, office space, equipment, and a network of mentors and field experts—but also adds a layer of close, collaborative research relationships. Because of this focus, there are specific types of startups the CAH is invested in supporting. We look for startups that:


  1. Align with CAH research interests

Effective collaboration requires a foundation of mutual interest and the ability to seek and cultivate those overlapping interests with CAH researchers. We are primarily interested in improving health and financial decision-making, and our partnerships with startups work best when business goals are aligned such that startups design tools aimed at helping consumers make better health and financial decisions.


  1. Demonstrate that positively influencing behavior is core to their mission and integral to their success

Startups working on behavior-centric problems are positioned to gain the most from their time at the Startup Lab, because we’re in the business of positively influencing behavior change (rather than inciting attitude changes or policy changes, for example).


  1. Are hungry to experiment (and rigorously so)

An intense willingness to dive in and learn the process of rigorous experimentation is vital for teams to reap the benefits of their learning at the Startup Lab. We want our startups to not only learn about behavioral economics concepts, but also carry forward the ability to test and implement the concepts they learn after they graduate from the program.


What else do we look for in entrepreneurs? Here are some qualities of strong applicants that are poised to leverage resources at the Startup Lab to their fullest:

Startup Lab looking for enterpreneurs

The Startup Lab supports problem-solvers by making behavioral economics findings accessible and applicable. 

Are you insatiably curious about what drives decisions, shapes motivation, and influences behavior? Does your startup’s success hinge on the ability to affect positive behavior change that helps people live happier, healthier, and wealthier lives? 

Apply for the October 2017-June 2018 Startup Lab program by June 30th at 5pm EST. Apply Now.

To learn more, visit our FAQs (includes information on the Startup Lab investment structure and other logistics) or connect with us at