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Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Nashville-based Jumpstart Health Investors launched Jumpstart Nova, the first U.S. venture fund to exclusively back Black-founded and led health care companies.

  • Major players including Eli Lilly, HCA Healthcare and the American Hospital Association injected $55 million.

Why it matters: A tiny fraction of existing health tech companies have Black leaders at the helm — a result of decades of systemic racism and the institutional barriers it has created.

  • Black leaders rate access to capital and investors as more significant barriers to building their companies relative to their white and Asian counterparts, according to a recent Rock Health survey.
  • Although 41% of Black founder respondents self-funded or bootstrapped their company, fewer than a quarter of white and Asian founder respondents did so, the survey finds.
  • "Our decision is to be laser-focused on supporting great Black health care founders," Jumpstart Nova founding partner Marcus Whitney, tells Axios. "That's our North Star."

The intrigue: A common question Whitney got while seeking partners for the venture was whether there were enough deals to justify the fund.

  • "The answer is yes, and we do not have enough capital to invest in all of them," says Whitney. "It’s going to be hard. We’re going to have to make some really tough decisions."

Details: Jumpstart Nova’s strategic investors are a veritable who’s who of heavy hitters across health care delivery and finance, from those mentioned above to Cardinal Health, Atrium Health and the Henry Ford Health System.

  • The venture’s partners include Bank of America, Pinnacle Financial Partners, FirstBank, Ingram Industries, Truxton Trust and Vanderbilt University.

What's next: Whitney anticipates he and Jumpstart Nova partner Kathryne Cooper will invest in roughly 20 companies as part of its first fund.

  • "We believe the chronic underinvestment in Black health care founders has had multiple negative downstream effects for society," Whitney says. "If our fund succeeds in its primary premise, we believe those downstream measures will improve."

Editor's note: This story was updated to include comments from Jumpstart's founding partner.

Go deeper

Nurses across the U.S. strike against COVID working conditions

A nurse wipes away tears inside the COVID-19 unit of Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital in California. Photo: Nic Coury/Bloomberg via Getty Images

National Nurses United, a labor union with more than 175,000 members nationwide, organized several strikes across the country Thursday, calling on the hospital industry to "invest in safe staffing."

Why it matters: The health care industry has struggled against the backdrop of heightened health risks, worker shortages and burnout, largely exacerbated by the onslaught of the coronavirus.

45 million Americans under winter storm watches near New England

Computer model projection showing the winds moving around the powerful East Coast storm on Saturday Jan. 29, 2022. Image: https://earth.nullschool.net

Nearly 45 million Americans are under winter weather alerts and warnings from North Carolina to northeastern Maine Thursday night, as a major winter storm threatens the region.

Why it matters: It is predicted to be the biggest blizzard since 2018 to strike the Northeast with more than 2 feet of snow possible in parts of eastern Massachusetts, according to the National Weather Service.

Judge nixes Gulf of Mexico oil leases in climate-focused ruling

Tug boats prepare to tow the semi-submersible drilling platform Noble Danny Adkins through the Port Aransas Channel into the Gulf of Mexico on December 12, 2020 in Port Aransas, Texas. Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

A federal judge on Thursday canceled the Biden administration's late 2021 sale of new oil-and-gas drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

Why it matters: The ruling that the greenhouse gas emissions analysis by the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) was insufficient is a win for green groups that challenged the decision, as they seek to curb fossil fuel production.