In the coming year, Medika Life will visit health innovation hot spots – where ideas and capital infusion converge. We will highlight companies, incubators and private equity groups on our radar screen. So far, our “innovation travelogue” plans include Atlanta, Boston, London, Minneapolis, Nashville, New Delhi, Portland, Singapore, Tel Aviv, and other global hot spots where digital health innovation appears strong. We are using the Galen Growth and FINN Partners “Global State of Digital Health Report,” which appears quarterly and is available for download, as our guide.
Trepidation. That one word describes the uncertain economic climate that grips corporate and investment decision-makers. If we are to believe headlines, wallets have tightened, and investment in digital health and health tech, as a result, has taken a nose dive. That go-to conclusion overly simplifies complex investment strategies in a sector that has shown great resilience year-after-after.
Two-Year Pandemic Funding Spree Fizzles Out
After an extraordinary two-year pandemic funding spree, there are apparent shifts in how investors make economic decisions. In this year of geopolitical turmoil and uncertain financial performance, digital health remains integral to the future of the health economy and in addressing public health pressure points. However, the development stages in which funds are directed, therapeutic categories selected, provider systems that demand transformation, and the regions where innovators establish headquarters are now key investment decision factors.
COVID served as an urgent sector testing ground. But the obsession with COVID must not overshadow the possibilities for continued growth in new areas of medicine and sustainability. As life-saving efforts around patient care and drug development ground to an almost complete halt, technologies that enhanced telemedicine and remote patient monitoring became the “no going back” path to pursue medical practice and innovation. This is just the beginning of the surge in how these technologies will transform human and planetary health.
Also, the human body – our well-being and survival- is biological and ecological. We are beginning to see first-hand the harsh realities of climate change and these stormy reminders that the planet doesn’t need people; people need the planet. Follow shared urgencies, and you find value investors at the earlier stages seeking equity and influence. Corporate environment, social and governance (ESG) priorities are becoming new due diligence points for investors as they access technologies and services of significant importance to governments and industries that have pledged commitment to net zero policies.
Tel Aviv Joins the Medika EcoHealth and Health Travelogue
While the digital health sector has grown significantly during the past decade, it must be mobilized to address unmet needs. From $2 billion invested in 2011, that figure morphed 28-fold to $56 billion in 2021. In the shadow of the COVID pandemic, unprecedented investment poured into digital health during this two-year window, accelerating the adoption of AI, AR, remote patient monitoring, telehealth, digital therapeutics, wearables, VR and more. These are all technologies Israeli entrepreneurs have called upon to improve care, track patient needs and reduce costs.
Tel Aviv, Israel – the first spot on our ecohealth and health tech travelogue – is taking the lead globally by combining the talents of biologists and engineers. Among the key people to watch in this market is Levi Shapiro, founder of mHealth Israel – a not-for-profit community of almost 20,000 innovators – from start-ups to established players. Shapiro is more than the curator for this community. He is Israel’s unofficial ambassador for innovative ideas.
Collaboration is the SynBio Power Ingredient
Among the hottest new areas for investment – just coming onto our radar screen – is synthetic biology or SynBio. Experts such as Avital Adler, Ph.D., Yuval Dorfan, Lior Nissim, Gita Reinitz, and Tamir Tuller are among the leaders in this growing collaborative movement to unlock solutions to the mega planetary challenges. Pearl Cohen, a leading Tel Aviv-based global law firm representing emerging innovation companies, is hosting SynBio 2023.
While too many headlines cite a significant drop in digital health private equity and venture capital investment, the magnetic pull to “follow the money” is misleading. More “value” is being infused into the digital health category – monies are entering at earlier stages and targeting specific spots on the global innovation map. Early in translates into more equity and influence. Follow the money and where the money is headed are linked.
If dollars and Euros are the only indicators of enthusiasm and commitment, it is easy to see why hand-wringing news stories prevail. Look at all the metrics that determine a vibrant sector. Look at the regions where funds are being directed and at what stages to resolve what broad–global – challenges. The cities in the Medika Life “Hot Spot Series” will explore what’s happening and some of the companies that are working to sustain human and planetary health.
Israel is an excellent example of that positive narrative. From 2021 – the acknowledged boom year of capital infusion into the category – to the supposed global drop in investment – Israeli did not see a noticeable decline in private equity investment. It continues to be a value-driven market and a testing ground for innovation. We’re watching several Israeli-headquartered private equity funds, including aMoon, Our Crowd, Start-Up Nation, Welltech Ventures, and others, to see where they will place their bets – our future – in the coming months. They are active and strong.
“Israel is a paradigm-challenging innovation culture. Disrupting a conservative industry such as healthcare requires this kind of mentality of not accepting the way things have been done forever,” reflects Eran Eshed, co-founder and CEO of Fairtility, a cutting-edge company using AI, clinical, high-tech, software development, and business leadership experience to rapidly introduce new technologies and applications to the IVF process.
Among the hot Israeli companies on our Medika Life EcoHealth and Health Tech Hot Spot, radar screen are these six covering decentralized clinical trials, environment and sustainability and patient adherence. During the week of February 6th, we will be onsite and meeting with these and other company leaders – hearing about their ideas and plans to improve people’s and the planet’s health and sustainability.
Six Israeli Health Tech Companies Worth Watching
Next week, we head to Tel Aviv, Israel, and look forward to meeting companies on the leading edge of health innovation. Here are six companies on our radar screen – we’re planning on meeting more and updating this list.
Belong.Life is a leading global tech provider of high-engagement social and professional care management platforms and patient communities, with more than one million users providing and receiving emotional support, advice, and information from peers and health professionals. Plus, as more patients with serious health concerns seek access to clinical trial options, Belong offers a clinical trial matching service that analyzes all available clinical trials around the globe in real-time, matching patients to trials relevant to their diagnosis and location. The Belong Beating Cancer Together app is used by almost 1 in 10 U.S. cancer patients, and 1 in 5 US-based multiple sclerosis patients are using BelongMS.
BloomX is addressing the challenge of crop pollination and sustainability. Farmers and crop growers rely on insects and honeybees for pollination, which plays an integral role in crop and fruit development and higher crop yields. Due to parasites and habitat loss, the honeybee population is decreasing, leading to a crisis that impacts crop production and food supply. BloomX is an early-stage ag-tech startup that has developed bio-mimicking pollination technology. This AI-based tech solves significant challenges by improving crop productivity and quality over the pollination process and supporting sustainability goals.
Enzymit may have cracked the price and time code for enzyme development and functionality. Inventing new enzymes for bioproduction, the company is poised to replace outdated, pollution-producing chemical manufacturing with validated green production methods efficiently and cost-effectively. The Enzymit proprietary technology platform uses deep-learning algorithms and high-throughput testing methods to rapidly screen billions of sequence changes for every single experiment. The company can uncover and develop novel proteins for varied applications, such as fine chemical manufacturing, food and beverages, health and nutrition, biodefense and energy.
Sweetch is tackling chronic conditions that consume the health system and providers using the transformational power of AI, behavioral science, and its “Just-in-Time-Adaptive-Intervention” (JITAI) technology. Medication non-compliance results in more than 100,000 preventable deaths and $100 billion in preventable medical costs annually. The company has developed a precision engagement solution for chronic conditions through hyper-personalized communication with individual patients powered by. The Sweetch solution is cost-effective, sustainable and scalable, offering a ready-made solution for healthcare providers, pharmaceutical companies and device manufacturers globally.
UBQ Materials is transforming unrecyclable and organic waste into bio-based thermoplastic using advanced conversion technology. The company diverts unsorted household waste from landfills and incineration, protecting the natural environment and people’s health. Water, soil, and air quality suffer when waste is sent to landfills or incineration. It is well known that there is increased respiratory risk for people residing near incineration plants. Also, there is significant research on microplastics in humans resulting from plastic pollutants in the water supply. UBQ Materials is among the pioneers engaging the health and planet sustainability challenge by focusing on renewable material solutions.
X-trodes has developed the world’s first multimodality dry wearable technology for advanced electrophysiological monitoring and analytics so that people with health concerns can be diagnosed in their home setting. X-trodes technology is a smart skin conforming to inaccessible areas of the body and provides a user-friendly solution to generate data. This new approach monitors EEG (brain activity), EOG (eye movement), EMG (muscle stimulation), and ECG/EKG (cardiac monitoring). Applications include sleep, fitness, sports, rehab and general health, and specialized monitoring targeted to specific markets.
We hope to feature other companies in this special Health Innovation Hot Spots Tel Aviv Report. We will continue to use the Galen Growth/FINN Partners “Global State of Digital Health” as our guide in highlighting innovation that can improve people’s and the planet’s well-being.