PHILADELPHIA— At 11 months following its launch, the Penn Medicine – Wharton Fund for Health is announcing investments in its fifth and sixth companies. Created as a joint initiative of Penn Medicine and the Wharton Social Impact Initiative to support startups that could positively change the social determinants of health in communities, the program is now investing in Fabric Health and Stimulus.
“These companies, based in and working to improve Philadelphia, are taking very different but equally innovative approaches to improve the well-being of our communities,” said Fund for Health co-director Brandon Grant, a strategic support manager in the office of the University of Pennsylvania Health System’s CEO. “We hope this investment will accelerate their positive impact.”
Social determinants of health are conditions common to the places where people live, learn, and work that have far-reaching effects on many different health issues. These could range from food and housing access to accessibility of parks or greenspace in a neighborhood.
Fabric Health and Stimulus address two different types of social determinants: health care access and economic stability.
- Fabric Health is a Philadelphia-based startup that partners with laundromats to improve access to healthcare for low-income populations. Team members work with health insurance companies to provide a variety of screenings and preventive care while people who otherwise might not have the time or easy access wait for their clothes to wash and dry.
- Stimulus is a Philly-based “software as a service” startup that makes the purchasing process more transparent and helps stakeholders across a business collaborate to choose the right suppliers and achieve their DEI purchasing goals. The platform provides information so that reliable, data-driven decisions can be made about what is being purchased and, more importantly, from whom.
While Fabric has hubs in Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., it began in Philadelphia in 2021, an extremely important time for health access due to the COVID-19 pandemic, among other issues.
“Fabric launched in Philly because there are both incredible resources and health disparities here,” said Courtney Bragg, who founded the company with Allister Chang. “Penn’s investment allows us to deepen our impact in Philadelphia, hiring in North and West Philly. We’re solving real problems for Philly families that are also massive business problems for health systems, which is why we’re lucky to have Penn as both an investor and partner.”
Stimulus’ founder and chief executive officer, Tiffanie Stanard, is a Philadelphian who believes that the weight provided by the entities behind this investment – both Penn Medicine and Wharton – “validates the hard work of my team.”
“We are honored to have the support of the Fund for Health to further our goals of restructuring the flow of capital – directing contracts – to underserved communities by providing companies with the data and analytics they need to make better diverse, equitable, and inclusionary procurement and sourcing decisions,” Stanard said. “As we enter the next phase of growth, this capital and partnership will empower us to accelerate the execution of our vision.”
To date, $1.35 million has been invested in the six companies selected by the Fund for Health’s team. The plan is for the fund to invest up to $5 million in startups over three years.
Recently, the Philadelphia 76ers’ managing partner, Josh Harris, and his wife, Marjorie Harris, announced plans to invest $1 million of their own in companies selected by the Fund for Health.