Provident Healthcare Ventures is publicly launching this week to make early-stage venture and middle-market private equity investments in the healthcare sector, said Bill Shepard, a managing director of the Boston group. The group was formed with $25 million in funding commitments from the Boston investment-banking firm Provident Healthcare Partners and others, including Shepard and Bob Ciardi, the managing partner and co-founder of Provident Healthcare Partners, according to Shepard. Provident Healthcare Ventures is a separate entity from Provident Healthcare Partners. The new group plans to make three to four investments per year in both young and later-stage firms in healthcare sectors such as health IT, home care, and specialty pharmaceuticals, Shepard said. Mass High Tech first reported the launch of the new investment group this morning.