Freshii has embarked on a new campaign to invest in startup companies that target health, fitness and food.

The Chicago-based fast-casual chain said this week that it has partnered with Toronto-based investment firm Kinetic Café to launch the Fresh Startups campaign. The program will fund new businesses with corporate missions that align with Freshii’s corporate cause to make it convenient and affordable for consumers to maintain a healthful lifestyle.

Freshii joins two other industry veterans who in early May founded Five to Seven, an investment fund seeking to raise $50 million over the next five years to spread five principles of “Good Food” to all seven continents. Five to Seven is the partnership of Brad Blum — former president of Olive Garden and former chief executive of Burger King and Romano’s Macaroni Grill — and John Vincent, co-founder of 12-unit Leon, a health-focused restaurant chain based in the United Kingdom.

As is the case for Five to Seven’s leaders, Freshii chief executive Matthew Corrin decided to begin investing in other like-minded businesses as an efficient way to serve customers outside the restaurants’ four walls, educate those guests and keep his brand top-of-mind among consumers.

“What we didn’t want to do was hire an in-house development group to start building stuff and ideate stuff,” Corrin said. “We thought it could be cool to do it through a more accelerated program with a deep vertical focus around health and wellness.”

In the few days since Freshii announced the partnership, more applications than anticipated have flooded in, he said. Freshii’s Fresh Startups campaign is accepting applications through Oct. 4.

“There are a lot of interesting concepts out there built on health and wellness that add value to our guests,” Corrin said. “If that makes them think of us more often, then that adds value to our franchise partners. … If one of these companies hit, there’s economic upside as well for the parent company.”

Five to Seven’s founders also said building up businesses that share the firms’ core values can be financially beneficial. Five to Seven’s investment model aims to make investments in businesses that over the long run return 5 percent on invested capital and produce 20-percent profit margins.

“The important thing for us is to prove that ‘good food’ can be commercially sustainable,” Vincent said. “Values-based businesses have to be financially successful.”