Fundraising for Digital Health: An Investor’s Perspective

15 Apr

By Caitlin Dolegowski, Marketing Specialist, LSN

CaitiThe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will be lasting – creating both opportunities and challenges in the digital health sector. At last month’s Healthtech Partnering Week, these were popular themes throughout investor panels across the three early-stage partnering events, Digital RESI March, 4D Meets AI, and Longevity, Health & Innovation.

A main theme from investors participating in these panels is the sheer enormity of the opportunities in digital health. Dr. Stephen Pitt, Head of JLabs US North East kicked off the 4D Meets AI Digital Health panel by saying, “2020 was certainly a turning point for digital health. I think we saw the pandemic help accelerate some areas, such as telehealth.” The Digital Health for the Elderly panel at Longevity, Health & Innovation reiterated Dr. Pitt’s statement through a conversation surrounding the needs for access to high-quality telehealth services for seniors. This point was furthered in Digital RESI March’s panel by Relentless Venture Fund’s Managing Partner, Brenda Irwin, who stated, “$14.1B was deployed in digital health in 2020, which was a 72% increase from the most active year, which was 2018.” Additionally, major players like Microsoft are advancing the need for digital health advancements through their recent acquisition of AI and tech company, Nuance Communications for $16B.

Early-stage entrepreneurs are in a prime moment of investment opportunity. Some of the pre-pandemic emerging digital health ideas are now the new normal and the industry is at the tip of the iceberg of innovation. Health Equity Capital Managing Partner, Taja Lester highlighted a virtual healthtech advancement where 3,500 Parkinson’s patients participated in a clinical trial conducted by the National Institute of Aging entirely from patients’ homes. Additionally, technology is advancing; smart phones, wearables, tablets, etc. can now provide biomarkers remotely. This also contributes to provider interoperability, which allows for an entire care team to have access to all the information specific to them in one location. These improvements have been “drastically accelerated and made necessary by COVID,” according to Justin Kelly, Associate at AXA Venture Partners.

Functional versus personable partnering is also an undercurrent highlighted by digital access. In-person relationship-building can never be fully replaced with these remote technological advancements. “I think the personal connection is a very important part of how you find an early investor and how you get somebody on board that sees the problem the way you do because you have something really strong in common to go through the different phases that a start-up goes through,” says Syllable Co-Founder and CEO, Kobus Jooste.

With the rise of COVID-19 vaccinations, in-person events may be on the horizon. Whether partnering continues virtually or through a hybrid or in-person model, the applications of digital health advancement are likely here to stay, and will continue creating value for patients, providers, and partnerships. If you’re ready to dive into match-based partnering that fits your product and stage of development, register for Digital RESI, June 8-10 at early bird rates until May 7.

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