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StartUp Health Partners With the California Health Care Foundation Innovation Fund to Support Health

Updated: Mar 6, 2023

The partnership, designed to address inequity through a 12-month program, has invited its first four companies into the cohort: Wingwomen, Alerje, Athelo Health, and Pear Suite.

By StartUp Health
Originally published on StartUp Health on November 1, 2022

Every year, the venture capital industry invests billions in US-based companies, but most of that capital does not flow to Black, Latinx, and female-founded companies. This lack of funding creates missed opportunities for new products and services to solve problems, improve lives, and build wealth in communities of color.

StartUp Health and The California Health Care Foundation (CHCF) Innovation Fund are teaming up to address this inequity by launching a 12-month initiative focused on Black, Latinx, and female health tech founders. The program will recruit and convene founders and support them via StartUp Health’s platform, health investor networks, and global media channels.

“With over 30% of our portfolio representing BIPOC founders, StartUp Health has already been a leader in supporting the entrepreneurial journey of underrepresented founders,” said Jamey Edwards, StartUp Health’s Chief Platform Officer. “But we realized we can do even more. BIPOC founders are uniquely positioned to create solutions for their communities and beyond. We see this collaboration with the CHCF as an opportunity to redouble our efforts, in concert with the launch of our Health Equity Moonshot, to ensure that these founders have equal access to the resources, networks, and coaching that gives them the best possible chance to scale the impact of their companies and achieve their missions.”

The cohort will initially include five companies selected from the StartUp Health portfolio and then add additional companies during the following quarter in an effort to create new sources of deal flow specifically targeted at underrepresented founders. We are pleased to announce that the first four companies have been invited into the cohort: Wingwomen, Alerje, Athelo Health, and Pear Suite.

“We are excited to work with StartUp Health, one of the world’s best supporters of digital health companies and innovators,” said Janet Boachie, CHCF Health Equity Fellow. “StartUp Health is uniquely positioned to help female and/or founders of color receive greater access to relationships and resources, which are critical for their success in developing a healthcare venture.”

Black founder-led companies received 1.2% of US venture capital investment in the first half of 2022, and Latinx founders received 2% of such funding in 2021, according to Crunchbase. That same year, female-only led startups accounted for nearly 2% of US venture capital, according to Pitchbook.

“If you take Black, Latinx, indigenous people of color, and women collectively, that represents 70% of the US population. However, founders from those backgrounds receive less than 10% of new venture funding,” says Kaakpema “KP” Yelpaala, Chief Impact Officer for StartUp Health’s Health Equity Moonshot.

The partnership aims to bring healthcare solutions to California’s Medi-Cal program, the state’s version of Medicaid, a large market serving a third of Californians. The fund will make experts available to help entrepreneurs navigate the intricacies of Medi-Cal and health payer bureaucracies.

“This work is important in supporting health equity,” said Ella Schwartz, CHCF Senior Program Investment Officer. “There are few programs that support tech-enabled healthcare services and entrepreneurs of color. We aim to change that by working with organizations like StartUp Health to educate, convene, and advise founders working to address health access and quality of care issues.”

“Some of the most important innovations of the next 10 years in healthcare will happen in the Medicaid market,” said Edwards. “While it may be counterintuitive that great opportunities remain in a sector of the industry under the greatest cost and resource constraints, those types of constraints are exactly what drives the need for better solutions. Improvements in this market can have the greatest impact on our population through raising the base standard of care, improving care quality and outcomes for those who need it most.”

About the CHCF Innovation Fund

The CHCF Innovation Fund aims to improve access and ensure high-value care for all Californians by partnering with emerging companies to bring the best innovations and technology to providers, health systems, payers, and patients. We invest in early- through growth-stage companies, providing critical investment capital and network-building support to mission-aligned entrepreneurs. Our team brings deep knowledge of policy, delivery system partners, and reimbursement within Medicaid and California, which gives us a unique ability to help our portfolio companies navigate California’s complicated Medicaid ecosystem.

About StartUp Health

StartUp Health is inspiring, educating, and investing in a global army of Health Transformers collaborating to achieve health moonshots — from ending cancer and curing disease to delivering quality care to everyone in the world. StartUp Health is backed by world-class investors including Steve Case, Mark Cuban, Esther Dyson, Brad Feld, Lee Shapiro, Glen Tullman, Advocate Aurora Health, Chiesi, Guidewell, Kaiser Permanente, Masimo, Novartis, Otsuka, and Ping An.

Since 2011, StartUp Health has invested in more than 435 health innovation companies across 29 countries. Select investments and exits include Nightingale Health (Nasdaq Helsinki), (acquired by Press Ganey), Conversa Health (acquired by AmWell), RespondWell (acquired by Zimmer Biomet), wayForward (acquired by Dario Health), Babyscripts, Cala Health, Cityblock Health, Devoted Health, Quit Genius, and Virta Health.


We invite entrepreneurs, investors, and those working in public and private sectors who want to speed up health innovation to access StartUp Health’s global army of Health Transformers by joining us at the StartUp Health Festival @ HLTH on Nov 13–16, 2022.


Originally published in StartUp Health

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