Examining the Entrepreneurial Revolution in Healthcare

Open for submissions 1 November 2022


Until a few years ago, entrepreneurship in healthcare was not recognized as something possible. The dissonance between entrepreneurship activities and healthcare (Phillips & Garman, 2006) was derived from a set of economic, organizational and behavioral barriers. More precisely, the healthcare industry was mainly influenced by the public interest; the allocation of resources was controlled far more by external forces than other types of enterprises; roles and responsibilities were subject to governmental regulations, standards and traditions that resulted in limited competition among participants. In other terms, the structure of the healthcare system impeded a fertile environment for entrepreneurship, based on the ability of individuals to act upon the opportunities in a strong competitive environment (Miller & French, 2016; Brandt & Znotka, 2021). The present proposal aims to examine how the link between entrepreneurship and healthcare is changed over time and how entrepreneurship has affected the healthcare revolution.

Over the last 20 years, the healthcare industry has been set on a path of rapid changes and new discoveries (Marques & Ferreira, 2020) - telemedicine, robotics, IoT, AI, cloud computing and wearables, gene therapy, personalized healthcare and medicine and blockchain - innovating the care delivery models (Ćwiklicki, Klich & Chen, 2020). However, mainstream literature has explored these changes while paying attention to other aspects, such as technology i.e., how the latest implemented technologies influenced clinical practice (Aquino et al., 2018; Ćwiklicki, Klich & Chen, 2020). For instance, Kraus et al., 2021 provided an overview of benefits induced by digital and technology adoptions: quality of care and operational efficiency, internal processes improvement, personalized care, re-positioning of patients in the healthcare system and inclusion of new players (e.g., digital companies). A complimentary stream of literature extends the focus of technological application to the entire healthcare system. They explore how the various players of a healthcare ecosystem (patients, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, public agencies, and many more) exploit digital technologies and means to the quality of care, value creation, and many more managerial issues (Borkowski & Gordon, 2006; Chang, Chen & Kuo, 2009; Kraus et al., 2020).

A less dominant stream of publications emphasizes the role of entrepreneurship in providing innovative solutions to the healthcare system (Vecchiarini & Mussolino, 2013). Indeed, the healthcare industry has the potential to act as a fertile ground for entrepreneurship (Garbuio & Lin, 2018). The digital transition and transformation, sustainable challenges and the Covid-19 pandemic have created and augmented opportunities for emerging and existing entrepreneurs.

This Special Issue aims to attract state-of-the-art manuscripts that bring together multidisciplinary knowledge on entrepreneurship in the healthcare industry, from a wide range of business disciplines. We invite submissions that draw upon theories and concepts from a variety of disciplines, as well as papers that explore contextual factors and conditions describing the entrepreneurial revolution in healthcare. We hope to collect exemplary theoretically framed articles that adopt empirical focus, as well as review papers that fit the Special Issue topic.

Practice and existing literature show that entrepreneurship and healthcare are linked and will continue to be connected for some time. Just look at the rapid growth of medical crowdfunding (Bassani, Marinelli & Vismara, 2019) or the number of healthcare deals reported by the Startup Health Insight Reports (2021).  Startup Health Insight researchers declare numbers are record-breaking: $44 billion being invested into health innovation funding globally, recording more than a 20 times increase in 10 years. Simultanwosly, academics are investigating the role of entrepreneurship in healthcare. Garbuio and Lin (2019) show that an increasing number of entrepreneurs entering the health care space are harnessing old and new technologies in the development of solutions they take to the marketplace. These include several digital solutions related not only to patient care but also, for instance, tracking apps (Davalbhakta et al., 2020), as well as a new digitized sector focussing on well-being. Beyond offering the ways to run businesses (Kulkov, 2021), these solutions are changing the future healthcare scenario dramatically in terms of how we prevent, diagnose, and cure health conditions. Indeed, many companies are moving into healthcare or healthcare-adjacent fields, driven by entrepreneurs who see the value of this emerging and burgeoning market. For instance, new entrants are even represented by patient innovators (Schiavone et al., 2020). In addition, new entrepreneurial profiles emerge in healthcare systems, such as sustainable healthcare entrepreneurs that contribute to addressing sustainability challenges such as the aging population, incurable illnesses, unhealthy environments (Janssen & Moors, 2013), characterized by a specific set of competencies (Amini, Arasti & Bagheri, 2018).

However, some literature emerging sporadically on the topic, there exists a lack of well-integrated theory linking healthcare management, entrepreneurship and innovation. In the studies of entrepreneurship, little is known about what characterizes entrepreneurship in the healthcare industry, who are the entrepreneurs in this sector, and how they develop start-ups and how they scale up their firms within this specific context.

An exploration of overmentioned themes may produce several implications in examining healthcare entrepreneurship. This special issue can support managers of new organizations in the planning and implementation of the winning solutions for the healthcare environment and those of existing organizations (e.g., family-owned healthcare organizations; entrepreneurial hospitals) in embracing entrepreneurial habits as a means of survival in such a complex arena.

The papers included in this special issue will contribute to the definition of the entrepreneurial processes in healthcare, highlighting the variety of conceptualizations representing new entrants (i.e., digital companies) and incumbent companies (hospitals, pharma firms, biotech firms). In addition, the Special Issue attempts to address new research issues in the convergent field of healthcare and entrepreneurship, such as gendered entrepreneurial experiences within the healthcare industry, frugal innovation, sustainable healthcare entrepreneurship. Furthermore, it will be important to see the submissions that focus on the growing practices of healthcare entrepreneurs and specifically to shed further light on the configuration of healthcare start-ups and scale-ups. This work is necessary, as this special issue aims to provide a more comprehensive view of sophisticated interactions between economic and healthcare actors and healthcare entrepreneurs.


Indicative list of themes of the Special Issue

  • Barriers, drivers and future directions of entrepreneurship in healthcare;
  • New healthcare business models, new dynamics of value creation, new financing forms of venture and innovation projects during and after the Covid-19 pandemic;
  • Industry 4.0 technologies (AI, IoT, big data and so on…) and the exploitation of entrepreneurial opportunities;
  • Forms and processes of user entrepreneurship (patients, doctors, caregivers…) in the healthcare sector;
  • Corporate entrepreneurship by large incumbent health corporations and impacts on regional entrepreneurship;
  • Underdog entrepreneurship and frugal innovation in healthcare;
  • Minority entrepreneurship, gendered entrepreneurial experiences within the healthcare industry
  • Healthcare entrepreneurship to the achievement of United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);
  • Digital transformation as a source of entrepreneurship for healthcare players;
  • Social capital and trust for supporting entrepreneurial activities in digital healthcare ecosystems.


Submission Process and Deadlines

  • Publication of this special issue is planned for 2024.
  • Submission window opens November 1st, 2022 and closes February 28th, 2023
  • Submissions should be prepared using the IJEBR Manuscript Preparation Guidelines (https://www.emeraldgrouppublishing.com/journal/ijebr#author-guidelines).
  • Manuscripts should be submitted through the IJEBR online system (http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/ijebr).
  • Papers will be reviewed according to the IJEBR double-blind review process.
  • Informal enquiries relating to the Special Issue, proposed topics and potential fit with the Special Issue objectives are welcomed. For any questions, please send an e-mail to [email protected].


Guest Editors

Francesco Schiavone, University of Naples Parthenope, Italy ([email protected])

Natasha Vershinina, Audencia Business School, France ([email protected])



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Aquino, R. P., Barile, S., Grasso, A., & Saviano, M. (2018). Envisioning smart and sustainable healthcare: 3D Printing technologies for personalized medication. Futures, 103, 35-50.

Bassani, G., Marinelli, N., & Vismara, S. (2019). Crowdfunding in healthcare. The Journal of Technology Transfer, 44(4), 1290-1310.

Borkowski, N., & Gordon, J. (2006). Entrepreneurial organizations: The driving force for improving quality in the healthcare industry. Journal of health and human services administration, 531-549.

Brandt, F., & Znotka, M. (2021). Influencing factors and outcomes of entrepreneurial activities in German healthcare organizations–a qualitative study. International Journal of Healthcare Management, 14(3), 805-812.

Ćwiklicki, M., Klich, J., & Chen, J. (2020). The adaptiveness of the healthcare system to the fourth industrial revolution: A preliminary analysis. Futures, 122, 102602.

Chang, Y. C., Chen, Y. C., & Kuo, T. K. (2009). Strategic technology sourcing in corporate ventures: A study of Taiwanese pharmaceutical firms. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research.

Davalbhakta, S., Advani, S., Kumar, S., Agarwal, V., Bhoyar, S., Fedirko, E., ... & Agarwal, V. (2020). A systematic review of smartphone applications available for corona virus disease 2019 (COVID19) and the assessment of their quality using the mobile application rating scale (MARS). Journal of medical systems, 44(9), 1-15.

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Garbuio, M., & Lin, N. (2019). Artificial intelligence as a growth engine for healthcare startups: Emerging business models. California Management Review, 61(2), 59-83.

Janssen, M., & Moors, E. H. (2013). Caring for healthcare entrepreneurs—Towards successful entrepreneurial strategies for sustainable innovations in Dutch healthcare. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 80(7), 1360-1374.

Kraus, S., Clauss, T., Breier, M., Gast, J., Zardini, A., & Tiberius, V. (2020). The economics of COVID-19: initial empirical evidence on how family firms in five European countries cope with the corona crisis. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research.

Kraus, S., Schiavone, F., Pluzhnikova, A., & Invernizzi, A. C. (2021). Digital transformation in healthcare: Analyzing the current state-of-research. Journal of Business Research, 123, 557-567.

Kulkov, I. (2021). Next-generation business models for artificial intelligence start-ups in the healthcare industry. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research.

Marques, I. C., & Ferreira, J. J. (2020). Digital transformation in the area of health: Systematic review of 45 years of evolution. Health and Technology, 10(3), 575-586.

Miller, F. A., & French, M. (2016). Organizing the entrepreneurial hospital: Hybridizing the logics of healthcare and innovation. Research Policy, 45(8), 1534-1544.

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Schiavone, F., Rivieccio, G., Paolone, F., & Rocca, A. (2020). The macro-level determinants of user entrepreneurship in healthcare: an explorative cross-country analysis. Management Decision.

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Vecchiarini, M., & Mussolino, D. (2013). Determinants of entrepreneurial orientation in family-owned healthcare organizations. International Journal of Healthcare Management, 6(4), 237-251.