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Economist Impact: Closing the Gap in Health Inequality

Explore how Omaiven Health, powered by AI-based software, is revolutionizing healthcare delivery in partnership with Johnson & Johnson Impact Ventures.
July 25, 2023

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This case study explores how Johnson & Johnson Impact Ventures, an impact investing fund of the Johnson & Johnson Foundation, invests in purpose-driven health entrepreneurs to support greater health equity.   

As discussed in chapter 2 of our report Mobilising the global investment chain for social impact, corporations are rethinking the ways they can deliver value to a wider group of stakeholders. One such strategy has been to engage through investment in social entrepreneurs that are driving concrete change in specific sectors. Surprisingly, only 7% of the US$715bn invested for impact in 2019 was directed towards improving health outcomes.

Global healthcare company Johnson & Johnson launched its impact investing arm, Johnson & Johnson Impact Ventures (J&J Impact Ventures), in 2019 to invest in “purpose-driven entrepreneurs whose innovations address health workforce and healthcare challenges in low-income and middle-income countries as well as in challenged communities.” J&J Impact Ventures, which is funded by the Johnson & Johnson Foundation, targets areas of health that do not attract enough venture-backed funding but show high potential of having a positive social impact for communities most in need. In October 2021, J&J Impact Ventures announced an expanded financial commitment of US$50m to support health impact entrepreneurs.

Adding technical assistance to investment

J&J Impact Ventures works with the public, private and philanthropic sectors to catalyse investments through innovative finance vehicles. It directly invests in companies that have strong potential for being sustainable and scalable with target annual revenues between US$500,000 and US$1m across priority geographies such as the US, southeast Asia and east Africa. In addition to funding through loans or grants, J&J Impact Ventures provides entrepreneurs with technical assistance, mentorship and access to Johnson & Johnson’s wider network across the healthcare sector.  

Since its inception, J&J Impact Ventures has provided funding to 47 health entrepreneurs, and reports that it has improved the lives of 1.8m individuals globally through the companies that it has invested in.

Fund and incentivise

Ioannis Ioannou, associate professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at London Business School, highlighted in our report that a younger generation of workers had strong views about the role of business in society, and that this was influencing their career choices. Addressing healthcare disparities is a goal set by J&J Impact Ventures, which invests directly in enterprises and provides funding to accelerator programmes and competitions that are specifically taking on health inequity.

J&J Impact Ventures partnered with Village Capital, an impact investment group, to launch US-based programmes to identify and support startups that focus on culturally competent care.

In the four months since receiving grant funding from the accelerator programme, Omaiven Health, which provides AI-based software to clinics and community health centres, has brought a more efficient and inclusive healthcare system to thousands of individuals, as well as deploying over 10,000 clinic automation systems across the US.

J&J Impact Ventures collaborated with Village Capital on a startup showcase where Health In Her HUE, a company aiming to reduce racial health disparities, was named the overall winner. The startup offers a digital platform connecting Black women and women of colour to culturally competent healthcare providers, and also provides tailored and engaging information.

J&J Impact Ventures also participated in the latest round of funding for NextStep, a healthcare technology company that provides career and training support for current and aspiring healthcare workers.9 NextStep seeks to address the caregiver shortage crisis during and in the aftermath of the covid-19 pandemic in the US by providing tuition-free training to low-income or unemployed workers, with the goal of expanding the supply of certified caregivers and nurses. J&J Impact Ventures’ participation, alongside investments from JAZZ Venture Partners, Springrock Ventures and ZOMA Capital, has taken the total investment in NextStep to US$3.3m.

The J&J Impact Ventures team hopes that their work will catalyse peers to invest in health entrepreneurs, stressing the importance of working collaboratively towards a common goal.

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