IBC to invest $50M in venture funds and start-ups

At DreamIt Health, a Philadelphia business accelerator backed by Penn Medicine and IBC, are start-ups Osomosis (left side of the cubicle) and SpeSo Health at their "offices" on North Eighth Street.
At DreamIt Health, a Philadelphia business accelerator backed by Penn Medicine and IBC, are start-ups Osomosis (left side of the cubicle) and SpeSo Health at their "offices" on North Eighth Street. (CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer)
Posted: February 05, 2014

Independence Blue Cross said Monday that it would invest up to $50 million in health-related venture funds and individual start-up companies that could help the region's largest health insurer improve quality and reduce the cost of health care.

The time frame for the investments by the Strategic Innovation Portfolio has not been determined, but IBC chief executive Daniel J. Hilferty estimated that it would be five to seven years.

The investment fund is a new element in a multipronged effort - now consolidated in what is called the IBC Center for Health Care Innovation - to turn the Philadelphia region into what Hilferty called "the national magnet" for companies developing technologies that could improve health care.

"There's no reason, with the resources that we have here in the region, that Philadelphia can't be the Silicon Valley of health-care innovation," Hilferty said in an interview.

IBC plans to invest about half the $50 million in regional venture funds or in partnership with the city, universities, the University City Science Center, or DreamIt Health "in funds that are building a broader base of capital to attract innovation to the region," Hilferty said.

The rest of the money would be invested in individual companies.

Hilferty said investing in technology could help people better manage their own care and reduce costs. "It really would have little to no impact on premiums" if the company were not out making investments, Hilferty said.

DreamIt Health, which was launched in December 2012, will begin accepting applications in March for a second four-month boot camp that will start this summer. The program gives the companies a small stipend, mentoring, office space, and the chance to meet potential customers and investors.

The 5,000-square-foot IBC center on the seventh floor of 1700 Market St. has a meeting space for "thought leaders," people with start-up ideas, and IBC management to hash out how to apply new ideas to health care, as well as employee training, Hilferty said.

The center was scheduled to open Monday with a meeting of a dozen CEOs in the Health Care Innovation Task Force, a group affiliated with the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce's CEO Council for Growth. That meeting was postponed because of the snowstorm.


hbrubaker@phillynews.com215-854-4651 @InqBrubaker

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