Penn Medicine and Wharton Social Impact Initiative have launched an investment fund focused on the drivers of health equity.

US-based academic medical centre Penn Medicine and Wharton Social Impact Initiative have launched a $5m fund to invest in companies addressing health equity.

Penn Medicine is owned by University of Pennsylvania (UPenn), while Wharton Social Impact Initiative was launched by UPenn’s Wharton School.

Over the next three years, the Fund for Health will invest in up to 10 early-stage companies that provide goods and services that strengthen social determinants of health – such as food security or housing – for economically disadvantaged people in Philadelphia.

The fund will be supported by an investment team of students from Wharton and Penn Medicine, who will identify potential investment targets and conduct due diligence.

The fund has already committed $750,000 to three companies so far. Those startups were Kinvolved, a developer of communication software that reduces absenteeism in schools, Uptrust, the provider of a customer relationship management tool that helps keep people stay on top of court dates or probation appointments, and RecoveryLink, a recovery support platform for people with mental health disorders and substance abuse issues.

Brandon Grant, strategic support manager in the CEO’s office at Penn Medicine, will co-lead the fund alongside Rajith Sebastian, director of special projects and impact investing at the Wharton Social Impact Initiative.

Sebastian, who also chairs the investment committee for the fund, said: “We are excited to create an investment vehicle that showcases how investing in mission-driven companies can meaningfully improve the health of our communities.”