Link-age Ventures raising money for a new fund aimed at tech for seniors

Ohio-based private equity firm Link-age Ventures is raising a $20 million to $35 million technology fund this year.

The team involved says the fund will invest in everything from early stage to growth-stage larger players in serving the aging population’s needs that include healthcare services and IT.

“We are interested in the interplay between the caregiver and the older adult, healthy living and wellness, and achieving a high quality of life,” said John Hopper, managing director of Link-Age Ventures. He said that while medical devices and drug development companies were not ruled out for investment, they are not the focus.

Link-age Ventures is a branch of Link-age, a nonprofit organization of senior living providers. In 2010, Link-age Ventures grew out of an alliance of nursing homes — about 600 retirement communities in 39 states — that decided to pool capital. These not-for-profit senior living providers initially made three investments as a group recently, one in an institutional pharmacy, Skilled Care Pharmacy, in Mason, Ohio, announced in January. Skilled Care Pharmacy serves more than 10,000 patients in over 100 senior living facilities.

, a Silicon Valley-based company interested in allowing seniors to stay in their homes longer, was another of the first investments in October 2012. For a low annual fee, members receive expert, friendly and helpful support by phone whenever they need it. HomeStay is owned by California-based GGL Projects Inc., and is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

And the other monies devoted to this initial investment structure were poured into the Alliance Healthcare Investment Fund LP in March of this year. This last endeavor allows Link-age to invest in companies in high-growth markets with manageable capital needs.

“We have a high degree of respect for managers in that fund,” Hopper said. The management team includes three experienced healthcare entrepreneurs: Joseph Mayernik, Tim Einwechter and Ricardo Ferreira.

The capital call for this new fund will officially go out to Link-age Alliance members beginning in late June and will run through Sept. 30. The principal members will be the not-for-profit providers and select strategic investors, or private equity as a limited partner. Midwest investments are expected primarily in Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, western Pennsylvania and Minneapolis. The fund is already looking at opportunities for investment this calendar year, and interested parties may send business summaries for review or business plans to Hopper.

“We are primarily interested in B and C round opportunities, and we respect options to invest in larger funds as well. We will have almost 100 percent participation from the Link-age Alliance members,” Hopper said.

The fund will also offer the opportunity to test products or offer pilot programs within its Alliance member facilities to the investments chosen.

“There are up to 350,000 senior residents who may want to buy a product vetted through this process,” Hopper added.

Link-age Ventures has its own living lab in a new 5,200-square-foot facility with other offices in Columbus, Ohio; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and another in New Jersey. Special partnerships include one with CincyTech, the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University, the University of Dayton’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and the Quality of Life Technology Center at the University of Pittsburgh. Cross-support from nearby Innovate LTC in Louisville, Kentucky, and Cincinnati’s Innov8 for Health round out the circle.