Get to Know RESI Sponsor BE Health Ventures

26 Jan
Arthur Chen
Arthur Chen
Interview with Arthur Chen, Managing Partner, BE Health Ventures

By Caitlin Dolegowski, Marketing Manager, LSN

Caitlin Dolegowski

BE Health Ventures is the largest institution in Taiwan with a venture fund and accelerator dedicated to HealthTech, MedTech and digital health startups. Based in Taipei, they leverage the unique strengths of Taiwan’s thriving ecosystem to position themselves as the gateway to Asia for both local and international startups. BE Health was a valued sponsor this past RESI JPM San Francisco in January. In the following interview, BE Health’s Managing Partner, Arthur Chen, gives us insight into BE Health and how they are serving both local and international startups.

Caitlin Dolegowski (CD): Please introduce us to BE Health Ventures.

Arthur Chen (AC): BE Health Ventures is the FIRST and ONLY hospital-backed VC in Taiwan. We launched the accelerator program in 2018 and have helped accelerate about 100 different startups since then, backed by the support of two of the largest hospital networks in Taiwan. The total fund raised by the alumni has surpassed $150M USD.

In addition to helping secure funding, our accelerator program provides non-financial resources to help our startups to validate their solutions and business ideas with our hospital partners. And through our venture capital fund, we invest in companies with exciting potential and help them expand across Asia.

CD: What are some traits of the Asian markets that are different from the USA or Europe markets?

AC: Asia contains 60% of the world’s population and continues to grow. It is estimated that by 2030, the region will also have 60% of the world’s population aged 65 or older. According to a recent report I studied, the total estimated healthcare spending in Asia alone is estimated to exceed $4 trillion by next year, with hospitals, home care, telemedicine, medical device, and drug development expected to lead the way. In fact, the Asia-Pacific region has far surpassed the United States and Europe in terms of the demand for healthcare. Currently, the market growth in Asia Pacific is 19.9%, much higher than the 10% growth rate in the U.S. and Europe. However, unlike the US or Europe, Asia is not a single market. We have China, Japan, India, Southeast Asia… and so on. Different countries have different regulatory paths, such as NMPA in China, PMDA in Japan, and each country also has its own reimbursement policies and payer structure; not to mention that cultural differences add to the threshold for overseas startups to enter the Asian market. Therefore, we have launched the accelerator program to help.

CD: What should we as investors be looking for from startups that want to enter the Asian markets? How do you evaluate whether they made the most of it or not, and is that a good indicator for future success?

AC: Given the diversity of country profiles in Asia, it would not be easy to successfully penetrate different countries’ markets to achieve scale. Each market takes time to operate because of the differences in culture and government health policies. We find that the successful MedTech companies would be those that can offer differentiated technologies that are superior to the competitors but partner locally to provide a customized solution to attract customers in different markets. The companies that can provide end-to-end medical solutions that meet the full range of each customer’s needs will likely gain more market share.

CD: On the topic of American or international startups entering the APAC region, what makes Taiwan an attractive launchpad? Why did you choose Taiwan, and what is your plan for the Asian market hereafter?

AC: There are many reasons why Taiwan is a viable choice to start your business in Asia. Here are some.

1) Taiwan is in the center of Asia: The average flight is 2h55m to six major cities in the western Pacific- Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Singapore. 2) Medical Resources: The NHI (National Health Insurance) in Taiwan has collected over 20 years of digitized, single-payer medical data. 3) Supply Chain: Strength in creating proprietary technology, R&D & manufacturing. 4) Convenient Entry for Foreign Talents: Foreign entrepreneurs can apply for the Entrepreneur Visa or the Employment Gold Card, both of which are routes for international talents to reach Taiwan. To sum up, Taiwan serves as an important bridge connecting the West to emerging Asia-Pacific markets. The geographical location of Taiwan makes it the perfect place to start your business in Asia, and then leverage Taiwan as a launchpad to expand your business presence to the rest of Asia.

CD: How would you characterize the current startup investment scene in Taiwan? What kind of opportunities should we be aware of?

AC: Startup investment in the health and medical sector in Taiwan has been heating up year by year. In 2021, the number of early-stage investments in this sector nearly tripled, with over 430 deals funded, reaching a record high. Cell therapy, CDMO, medical AI, and advanced medical devices are some of the hottest topics in Taiwan’s early-stage funding market, serving as the main drivers of this wave of healthcare investment boom. With new medical treatment and new technological breakthroughs, more ICT companies and cross-sector startups are expected to join the industry.

Due to the size and growth rate of the Asian healthcare market and the power of technology to transform the industry in recent years, more technology giants have chosen Taiwan as their base in Asia to form partnerships with the healthcare industry. For example, Microsoft, Amazon, and Google have all set up offices and formed R&D teams in Taiwan. This trend of Taiwan becoming a medical technology cluster in Asia Pacific is already taking shape.

CD: What can BE provides for the international startups?

AC: BE supports both local and international startups to start, scale and grow within the challenging healthcare ecosystem in Asia. One thing that sets us apart as a VC is our unparalleled access to hospital facilities. In Taiwan, we partner with two of the largest hospital groups, namely Show Chwan Memorial Hospital and Taipei Medical University. And with these two partnerships combined, we can access about 15 hospitals across the Asia-Pacific region as well as IRCAD Taiwan, the largest non-invasive surgical training center in all of Asia. We offer an acceleration program called PoC (Proof of Clinical Evidence) for every stage of startups to use Taiwan as their launchpad into the Asian market, to verify product feasibility and market demand. The program recruits 1 batch per year and it follows a 20-24-week curriculum.

The BE PoC Accelerator Program provides the ideal opportunity for international startups to explore business opportunities in Asia. With our network of hospitals, startups can explore unmet clinical needs through needs validation, establishing a hospital pilot site, and access to medical resources. Startups interested in clinical trial, manufacturing, data access and fundraising resources will also benefit from our network across Taiwan and Asia.

We are now in the process of recruiting startups for a new batch. Startups interested in Asian market are welcome to apply!

CD: We were thrilled to have BE Health Ventures as a sponsor and exhibitor at RESI JPM San Francisco! What were some of your takeaways from RESI? 

AC: The RESI conference connects startups with early-stage investors and strategic business partners. This year, we led 10 Taiwanese startup teams in the Pitch Challenge, many of which were highly rated by investors, and CytoAurora won second place. This is a proof to Taiwan’s innovative strength. As a startup accelerator and venture builder, BE Health continues to look forward to more cross-border collaborations, connecting the West and the East.

RESI March 2023 Digital Copy (FULL Banner Size)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: