GRAND RAPIDS — Spectrum Health has committed $7.5 million to a new Chicago-based venture capital fund that backs emerging heath care technologies.
The commitment to invest $2.5 million annually over three years into 7wire Ventures’ Connected Consumer Health Fund comes from Spectrum Health Ventures LLC, the $100 million venture capital fund the health system formed in early 2017.
By investing in 7wire Ventures and joining a coalition of eight health systems and insurers, Spectrum Health Ventures looks to leverage its capital as well as tap into a national network and expertise to scout for prospective deals.
“We felt it was a really good fit. Their investment thesis is really Spectrum Health’s investment thesis, which is moving health care much more to prevention, much more to digital, and much more to the consumer,” Roger Jansen, chief strategy officer at Spectrum Health, told MiBiz.
“It enters us much more rapidly into the national market with a proven team of financial experts, investment experts and health care experts that we simply couldn’t scale up affordably on our own,” Jansen said. “We have, in essence, a 40-person team to augment and work with our three-person team as it currently stands. We get a ton of additional bench strength.”
7wire Ventures closed this month on $100 million invested into the Connected Consumer Health Fund. Partners in the fund include Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in Arkansas and New Jersey, national commercial health insurance carrier Cigna Corp., and health systems that collectively serve 25 million people.
“We are in an era of unprecedented innovation in the health and health care sectors,” said Lee Shapiro, a managing partner of 7wire Ventures. “The 7wire Ventures Connected Consumer Health Fund and coalition are perfectly timed to drive innovation and adoption across the market.”
The new venture capital fund “will fuel entrepreneurs with ideas that improve the health of our society,” said Glen Tullman, co-founder and a managing partner of 7wire Ventures.
Tullman also serves as CEO of Livongo Health, a Mountain View, Calif.-based startup that developed precision medicine technologies to prevent and manage diabetes, hypertension and other chronic diseases.
Spectrum Health Ventures will invest alongside 7wire Ventures and other partners in the coalition on a deal-by-deal basis, Jansen said. The Grand Rapidsbased health system already has invested $2.5 million since early 2018 into deals involving existing portfolio companies held by 7wire Ventures.
In partnering with 7wire Ventures, Spectrum Health opens another path to gain early access to innovations and emerging technologies designed to prevent and better manage disease, maintain and improve health, and reduce the cost of care.
“We get access to really disruptive and cuttingedge innovations and technologies that we can either invest in and/or review and see if we want to deploy it in our health care system,” Jansen said. “They give us scale, they give us a multiplier effect, they give us a network, and they give us the latest and greatest insights and capabilities that — while we would eventually be able to review and look at — we get (access to them) much more rapidly than doing this in isolation.”
A similar logic was behind the formation of Spectrum Health Ventures, which on its own has invested in three health care startups with promising innovations.
The most recent investment was in Gauss Surgical Inc. of Los Alto, Calif., which developed a monitoring system that provides clinicians an accurate estimate of a patient’s hemoglobin and blood loss during surgeries and births. That information helps clinicians in making decisions on transfusions and medications for patients.
Physicians at Spectrum Health were involved in the due diligence with other health systems that invested in Gauss Surgical, and “we all found it to be a very successful solution for our systems,” Jansen said.
Gauss Surgical is working with OB/GYN and women’s health teams at Spectrum Health on a timeline for deploying the system locally.
“We’re bringing really cool stuff to Spectrum,” Jansen said.