Ridgeview Medical Center said it is the first health care system to sign up as a mentoring partner in a new national accelerator program for early-stage healthcare technology businesses.

The accelerator, called Healthbox, plans to support ten promising health care technology and technology-enabled services companies in a three-month program. Healthbox will give each business $50,000 in seed capital, access to investors and experts, workshops and workspace. In return, each company will give Healthbox a 7 percent equity stake.

Healthbox said its first class will begin in Chicago in January and application information will be available on its website this week. The accelerator was founded by Chicago-based Sandbox Industries, which manages the $116 million BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners Fund. Sandbox also serves as a business incubator and manages other venture funds.

Ridgeview Medical Center invested $50,000 in the Healthbox fund, said Dan Phillips, director of Healthbox. The center is located in Waconia.

"As providers, it is mission critical for us to actively engage with innovators to help shape the future of the health industry," said Robert Stevens, president and CEO of Ridgeview Medical Center and Clinics in a statement.