Startups
Accelerators / Health tech / Venture capital

Philadelphia now has a $6 million fund to back local health IT startups

Safeguard Scientifics, Ben Franklin Technology Partners and Independence Blue Cross are backing the fund, with the hope of turning the region into a health IT powerhouse.

Independence Blue Cross HQ in Center City Philadelphia. (G. Fred DiBona Jr. Building in Philadelphia by Tupungato via Shutterstock)

Early-stage health IT startups in Philly are getting one more door to knock on for seed capital: a new $6 million investment fund focused exclusively on local startups, backed by public-private venture firm Ben Franklin Technology Partners, Independence Health Group (the parent company of Independence Blue Cross) and venture firm Safeguard Scientifics.
The official announcement will happen this afternoon during Philly Startup Leaders’ Founder Factory conference. But, for now, you should know each company will kick in $2 million to the fund, which plans to dole out its funds over the coming four years. (That is, provided it can find companies to fund. Remember what happened with the StartUp PHL seed fund’s first year?) Investments will be between $50,000 and $1 million, which is, yes, a big range. Along with the cash, young companies will receive mentorship as they grow, according to a press release.
The fund is close to finalizing its first investment, according to Safeguard’s David Luk, who’s leading the effort on the firm’s side. It’s a local company run by familiar faces, he said. (Hit us with your predictions!)
In the release, Ben Franklin President and CEO RoseAnn Rosenthal emphasized the importance of the partnership with IHG and Safeguard.
“Joining with these leaders who bring domain knowledge and expertise strengthens Greater Philadelphia’s position to support one of its most thriving technology sectors,” she said. “Such a collaboration enhances and multiplies the quality of assessment, feedback and opportunity available to the region’s digital health entrepreneurial talent, promoting development of solutions to benefit our community.”
It’s a big deal that Safeguard, the region’s veteran investment firm, is on board. Recall that the venture firm did not sign on, the way Rittenhouse Ventures and Ben Franklin did, to fund startups through the Health Care Innovation Collaborative, the wide-ranging partnership announced in 2015 that aimed to propel the region’s health IT sector.
Participation in this fund is in line with a trend we’ve been seeing in Safeguard’s moves for a while: a bigger focus on health IT over traditional life sciences companies. But even though this fund is geared toward seed-stage companies, Safeguard’s president and CEO Steve Zarrilli says the firm isn’t moving away from its usual (relatively) later-stage investments size.
“While we will always focus on our traditional ‘sweet spot’ of Series A and Series B financings, we believe that it’s also important to put a stake in the ground and allocate resources to a broader spectrum of opportunities to support the full ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship,” Zarrilli said in a press release.
And, Luk pointed out through a spokesman, seed-stage companies are a way to set up a pipeline for those later-stage investments.
As for IBX’s parent company, the benefit is kinda obvious: bigger and better health IT companies in the ecosystem means the Philly region continues to grow its profile as a health IT town. Plus: strong health IT startups — potential IBX vendors — represent a path for the insurance firm to deliver better service.
“At our core is the belief that innovation is always knocking at the door,” said Daniel Hilferty, president and CEO of IHG. “We want to champion healthcare entrepreneurship in our region and could not have found better partners for turning game-changing ideas into real world applications that will improve our members’ well-being.”
IBX’s participation is notable because the firm is putting money where its mouth is, in its most locally focused effort to date. Past IBX funding opportunities include:

What would be just as helpful? Running paid pilots with these early-stage startups, as one local health IT CEO has pointed out.
We’ll certainly be keeping an eye on news from this fund, which sounds like one way of attaining that goal of becoming a regional health IT powerhouse.

Companies: Ben Franklin Technology Partners / Independence Blue Cross / Safeguard Scientifics

Before you go...

Please consider supporting Technical.ly to keep our independent journalism strong. Unlike most business-focused media outlets, we don’t have a paywall. Instead, we count on your personal and organizational support.

3 ways to support our work:
  • Contribute to the Journalism Fund. Charitable giving ensures our information remains free and accessible for residents to discover workforce programs and entrepreneurship pathways. This includes philanthropic grants and individual tax-deductible donations from readers like you.
  • Use our Preferred Partners. Our directory of vetted providers offers high-quality recommendations for services our readers need, and each referral supports our journalism.
  • Use our services. If you need entrepreneurs and tech leaders to buy your services, are seeking technologists to hire or want more professionals to know about your ecosystem, Technical.ly has the biggest and most engaged audience in the mid-Atlantic. We help companies tell their stories and answer big questions to meet and serve our community.
The journalism fund Preferred partners Our services
Engagement

Join our growing Slack community

Join 5,000 tech professionals and entrepreneurs in our community Slack today!

Trending

Gopuff lays off 6% of workforce, as it prepares for 'next leg of growth'

5 local orgs with services and resources for startups and entrepreneurs

AI can now design greener cities, but architects still have the final say

Hopeworks to double Kensington student base with $1 million expansion in Philly

Technically Media