At the inaugural MedCity INVEST Pop Health conference in New Orleans on May 22, West Des Moines, Iowa-based UnityPoint Health announced that it has launched a $100 million venture fund.

UnityPoint is a network of hospitals, clinics and home care services in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin.

According to the UnityPoint Health Ventures website, the fund will make investments in early-stage growth companies across four areas: digital health, medical devices, therapeutic spaces and healthcare services.

“Through intentional partnerships, we’ll pair our clinical and operational leaders with industry entrepreneurs to learn the best ways to test and scale solutions that seek to lower the cost of healthcare, as well as help people live a healthy life,” the site reads.

It also lists three organizations on its Portfolio and Partners page: Health Catalyst, Heritage Partners and Health Velocity Capital.

The team behind the Iowa-based organization’s fund includes Kent Lehr, UnityPoint’s vice president of strategy and business development, and Matthew Warrens, UnityPoint’s managing director of innovation. Warrens previously held various roles at OSF HealthCare, including vice president of innovation partnerships.

After the INVEST Pop Health event, Dennis Depenbusch, director of BlueCross Blue Shield of Kansas’ New Ventures Initiative, said this $100 million investment “is huge for the impact that it will make on our citizens and rural America.”

By making the move, UnityPoint joins the growing number of providers launching their own venture funds. Examples include Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, OSF HealthCare and Intermountain Healthcare.

In an earlier phone interview, Cleveland Clinic Ventures partner Dr. Akhil Saklecha noted that providers make the move [into venture investing] because they want to achieve a financial return by leveraging their clinical care abilities and becoming involved in product or business development.

For Cleveland Clinic, the venture opportunity also gives physicians and inventors the chance to keep innovating. “The Clinic wants to support that type of culture,” Saklecha said.

Photo: aurielaki, Getty Images



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