Accelerators / DEI / Founders / Funding

20+ resources to boost Philly health startups

For founders looking to solve community health problems, these funders, accelerators and physical hubs can boost your biz in the eds and meds capital.

Lab space at BioLabs@CIC. (Photo by Julie Zeglen)

This editorial article is a part of Tech + Health Month of's editorial calendar. This month’s theme is underwritten by the Chesapeake Digital Health Exchange. This story was independently reported and not reviewed by CDHX before publication.

Editor's note: Entries will be added to this list periodically.
Eds and meds has evolved as Philly grows into a hub for health-minded startups. How to keep up the momentum to boost the next generation?

As part of our Tech + Health Month, compiled a list of of resources to help founders of such startups develop and succeed as they use entrepreneurship to meet community health needs.

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University City Science Center

This UC institution provides lab and office space for STEM-minded founders to grow their startups. With the ic@3401 incubator, the Science Center is home to almost 40 tech or tech-related startups, and its Launch Lane accelerator supports early stage health-driven startups. Plus, keep an eye out for the forthcoming health equity fund.

JPOD at the Pennovation Center

Located in Grays Ferry’s Pennovation Center with support from Johnson & Johnson’s JLABS health innovation initiative, the JPOD was created to find and support early-stage life science startups. Benefit from networking in the wider coworking center, too.

An open floorplan office with a large pod in the middle.

Based within Pennovation, JPOD Philadelphia offers mentorship to local entrepreneurs. (Courtesy rendering)

Johnson & Johnson Health Equity Innovation Challenge

As part of a $100 million commitment from J&J to promote health equity over five years, $600,000 will be dispersed between founders of health-driven startups in six cities, including Philadelphia. Applicants should be focused on solving health equity issues among Black and brown people. The founders will also receive access to the the JLABS ecosystem and the JPOD in the Pennovation Center. Apps are due by Nov. 12.

76 Forward

Applications are now closed for this 10-week accelerator launched by the coworking network, but take note of this program that focuses on customer experience in retail pharmacy locations with a goal of improving health equity. CVS Health will pair healthcare startups between the seed and Series B stages with mentors and resources to better develop their businesses.

BioLabs at CIC Philadelphia

CIC Philadelphia’s BioLabs workspace is designed to support early-stage life sciences startups by providing infrastructure and equipment. The org is currently expanding its footprint, citing a growing need for lab space in the city.

Ben Franklin Technology Partners

This state-based funder provides funding to early-stage tech startups, with one focus on those working in health. Past investees include RecoveryLink, an online suite of tools for people in recovery substance use, mental health issues and other health problems, as well as Bucks County’s Astarte Medical, maker of NICUtrition, a suite of digital tools and diagnostics that supports feeding protocols, practice and decision-making in neonatal intensive care units.

A white wall peppered with startup stickers.

The famed startup wall at Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania’s offices. (Courtesy photo)

Philly Startup Leaders

Philly Startup Leaders is a network of entrepreneurs in the region that supports founders via building community, networking and resource sharing. Included in its most recent accelerator cohort: Journal My Health, a tech tool that tracks chronic health conditions.

Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technology

With a focus on innovation and local entrepreneurship, PACT brings mentorship, programming and networking to help professionals gain capital and build valuable connections as they grow their businesses. It honors several health and life science startups and founders at its annual Enterprise Awards — including, in 2021, the likes of Envara Health, Inc. and Maria Maccecchini, founder and CEO of Annovis Bio.

Life Sciences PA

Based in Wayne, LSPA supports life sciences professionals across the state working in biotech, medtech, diagnostics, pharma, research and investment, “along with myriad service providers who support the industry.”

Well City Challenge

As a partnership of the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia and Independence Blue Cross, this accelerator recently selected five health-focused startups from 100 applicants to develop their business concepts with support from mentors. The winning founder, Hey Auntie!’s Nicole Kenney, received $50,000.

Fund for Health

Through this Penn Medicine and Wharton Social Impact Initiative program, $5 million will be invested over three years in early stage businesses intent on improving the social health determinants of Philly residents from financially limited backgrounds. Three companies have received a combined $750,000 in the first round of funding.

An aerial shot of Penn's research hub.

An aerial shot of the Pennovation Center, Penn’s research hub.(Photo courtesy of Aerial Applications)

University of Pennsylvania Center for Precision Engineering for Health

Penn is investing $100 million into a new center over the next several years. Research at the center will focus on bio-inspired approaches to engineer the type of technology used in the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. It will also offer seed grants to early-stage projects related to engineering and medicine.

Penn Center for Innovation

PCI has become a local hub for tech growth and a support for entrepreneurs in the health space. In 2020, it reported, the tech commercialization hub facilitated $116 million in corporate sponsored research funding.


This Radnor firm invest in startups working in therapeutics, diagnostics, medical devices, research tools and health IT. It has been a part of the local startup ecosystem for 20 years and offers weekly office hours to support startups working in medtech innovation. BioAdvance recently invested nearly $7 million in 14 existing and new portfolio companies.

Delaware Crossing

This angel investment group with chapters in Doylestown and Princeton supports founders via business guidance, networking opportunities and insight from investors. It also funds medical device, therapeutic and diagnostic companies.

Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center

This Doylestown-based nonprofit life sciences incubator provides teams with the equipment to execute research and development of their concepts. It also offers business support, networking opportunities and grant support to help scale their businesses. The center also launched its $50 million venture program for early-stage biotech companies, Hatch Biofund, earlier this year.

A rendering of 2019 plans for Pennsylvania Biotech Center’s expanded campus. (Courtesy image)

Bucks Built Startup Fund

For Bucks County-based startup founders, twice a year, this fund selects five early-stage companies and invests up to $25,000 in them with the goal of the companies scaling and hiring Bucks residents. The fall 2021 cohort includes Penn spinout CareAlign and University of Delaware grad-founded TheraV.

Robin Hood Ventures

This group of angel investors invests between $250,000 and $1 million in early-stage, high-growth startups. In addition to financial capital, startups receive professional guidance to scale their businesses for long-term success. Robin Hood’s portfolio includes life sciences, physical sciences and healthcare IT.

Jefferson Innovation

This Jeff initiative focuses on the commercial adoption of new health-related technology via mentorship, resources and networking. Next up: the Jefferson Health Hack hackathon happening Oct. 22 to 24. Tracks this year include mental health amid the pandemic, “bridging the health care tech divide” and wearables.

Dreamit Ventures

Dreamit is a VC firm and accelerator that invests in healthtech and medtech startups as one focus area, usually in their pre-Series A rounds of fundraising. Here’s a look at how Managing Partner Darren Sandberg was thinking about funding startups early on in the pandemic.

Penn Health-Tech

Penn Health-Tech builds connections between researchers and funds healthcare startups working on innovative healthcare concepts. It also co-runs the Health Tech Accelerator, open to university and Penn Medicine faculty and staff looking to commercialize medical devices and health technologies.

Michael Butler is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
Companies: Pennovation Center / 76 Forward / Ben Franklin Technology Partners / Johnson & Johnson / PACT / Philly Startup Leaders / University City Science Center / University of Pennsylvania
Series: Tech + Health Month 2021

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