Health & Economic Equity Through Investment in Black-Led Healthcare Companies

January 11, 2022

DETROIT (January 10, 2022) – In its growing efforts to address economic and community health inequities, Henry Ford Health System has committed $1 million to become a limited partner in the launch of Jumpstart Nova, a $55 million venture fund that will invest in Black-led and founded healthcare businesses.

“Jumpstart Nova not only provides the funding historically unavailable through traditional venture investment channels, it also connects us to a fund manager with a deep commitment to Black-owned businesses with high potential for success,” said Robin Damschroder, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Henry Ford.

In addition to financial backing, Jumpstart Nova, the newest fund of Nashville-based Jumpstart Health Investors, provides mentorship and institutional introductions & relationship-building to companies in its portfolio to help accelerate their growth, chances of success and impact on equity in healthcare and community health.

Joining Henry Ford in investing and as strategic healthcare partners are: Eli Lilly and Company, HCA Healthcare, Cardinal Health, Atrium Health, LHC Group, Meharry Medical College and American Hospital Association. In addition, Jumpstart Nova launched with partners Bank of America, Pinnacle Financial Partners, First Bank, Ingram Industries and Vanderbilt University.

“It’s clear that innovative thinking, intentional action and a strong commitment are needed when it comes to changing access to venture capital and funding,” Damschroder said. “We hope others will join us in supporting first-time, Black, minority and women venture fund managers who in turn support minority-owned healthcare businesses.”

Henry Ford intends to become a limited partner in additional funds led by first-time minority and women managers. Adding an emerging fund manager to Henry Ford’s strategic venture investment portfolio updates Henry Ford’s existing criteria and is an additional way to think about meaningful change as Henry Ford continues to step up its commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice (DEIJ) strategy

It is estimated that only 1.2 percent of the approximate $130 billion U.S. venture dollars raised in 2020 went to black business founders. According to the Knight Foundation, only 1 percent of the $70-trillion-dollar wealth management industry is controlled by women or minority fund managers, which can directly affect where the investment dollars go. It is estimated that only 2 percent of venture capitalists in the U.S. are Black men and 1 percent are Black women.

“Data shows us that it can be nearly impossible for Black- and minority-owned businesses to secure investment, no matter how promising their technology or service. Supporting them directly and indirectly has potential to help reverse the economic inequities and related damage that has held communities down for decades,” said Carladenise Edwards, Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer at Henry Ford.

“Investments such as this support our continuing efforts to improve lives in the communities we serve and care for. We know that we need to address the economic barriers of all types to foster good health and outcomes that lead to thriving communities,” she said.

Key to the just-launched fund is creating opportunities for healthcare industry leaders focused on innovation to invest in promising Black healthcare innovators, said Marcus Whitney, Founder and Managing Partner of Jumpstart Nova. Jumpstart Nova is the newest in a family of funds managed by Jumpstart Health Investors, which Whitney co-founded with Vic Gatto in 2015 in Nashville.

“Our initial portfolio companies are tackling important issues for the healthcare industry like equitable access to clinical trials, bringing novel cell and gene therapies to market, helping families with autistic children get the therapeutic support they need, and seeking to mitigate the risk of life-threatening food allergy attacks. Together, we are going to make a significant mark on the healthcare industry,” Whitney said.

He also intends for access to investment to translate to improvements in statistics such as only 5 percent, or 35,000 of 785,000, of U.S. Healthcare and Social Assistance sectors being Black- or minority-owned.

“The healthcare industry has missed out for decades on investing in America’s brilliant Black innovators, and this has been a loss for us all,” Whitney said. “I’m thrilled that Henry Ford Health System will be partnering with us to not only invest capital, but provide guidance, feedback and opportunities to the companies in Jumpstart Nova's portfolio.”



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About Henry Ford Health System Founded in 1915 by Henry Ford himself, Henry Ford Health System is a non-profit, integrated health system committed to improving people’s lives through excellence in the science and art of healthcare and healing. Henry Ford Health System includes Henry Ford Medical Group, with more than 1,900 physicians and researchers practicing in more than 50 specialties at locations throughout Southeast and Central Michigan. Acute care hospitals include Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, MI and Henry Ford Allegiance Health in Jackson, MI – both Magnet® hospitals; Henry Ford Macomb Hospital; Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital; and Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital.
The largest of these is Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, a quaternary care research and teaching hospital and Level 1 Trauma Center recognized for clinical excellence in cardiology, cardiovascular surgery, neurology, neurosurgery, and multi-organ transplants. The health system also provides comprehensive, best-in-class care for cancer at the Brigitte Harris Cancer Pavilion, and orthopedics and sports medicine at the William Clay Ford Center for Athletic Medicine – both in Detroit. As one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers, Henry Ford Health System annually trains more than 3,000 medical students, residents, and fellows in more than 50 accredited programs, and has trained nearly 40% of the state’s physicians. The system’s dedication to education and research is supported by nearly $100 million in annual grants from the National Institutes of Health and other public and private foundations.
Henry Ford’s not-for-profit health plan, Health Alliance Plan (HAP) provides health coverage for more than 540,000 people.
Henry Ford Health System employs more than 33,000 people, including more than 1,600 physicians, more than 6,600 nurses and 5,000 allied health professionals.