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What does the future hold for digital health investment?

Key learnings:

  • The Biotech and Money community gathered for Biotechs and the City Autumn on 28 September 2017 to network and discuss innovations and investment in digital health.
  • There is all to play for in the digital health space, where a clear leader is yet to emerge.
  • By bridging technology and traditional biotech, digital health provides an opportunity for investors, yet a perceived gap between the two is acting as a barrier for some elements of the VC investment community.

On 28 September 2017, more than 80 senior executives in the life sciences sector, including investors, biotech and digital health companies in varying stages of development, and industry partners gathered for Biotechs and the City Autumn. The event, which was held in partnership with the Wharton Alumni Angels Network (WAAN), kindly sponsored by DigitalHealth.London, and hosted by Cocoon Networks, provided an informal networking opportunity for the Biotech and Money community over drinks and canapes.

The event also shone a spotlight on innovation and investment in digital health, with an expert panel discussion chaired by Dr Andy Richards, entrepreneur and angel investor. The panel included: Vishal Gulati, Venture Capital (VC) Partner at VC firm Draper Esprit; James Shaw, Co-founder and Partner, Life Sciences and Corporate at law firm JAG Shaw Baker; Dan Vahdat, Co-founder at mobile health solutions provider Medopad; and Dr Andy Blackwell, Chief Scientific Officer at online mental healthcare provider Ieso Digital Health.

The future of digital health

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Over the course of the discussion, Blackwell outlined the development of Ieso Digital Health, including the principal factors that enabled the firm to gain traction in the NHS. The company, which provides online access to evidence-based cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), closed an £18 million funding round in September 2017, including £7.5 million from new investor Draper Esprit and £8 million from existing investor Touchstone Innovations.

Medopad’s Vahdat also talked through the growth of Medopad, which offers a mobile health platform and mobile patient-monitoring solutions, outlining how the company’s work with leading London teaching hospitals helped to spur its international growth.

The challenges and opportunities surrounding digital health investment were among the key themes to emerge from the expert panel discussion and audience question-and-answer session. For Draper Esprit’s Gulati, whose current portfolio includes digital health companies such as Horizon Discovery, Lifesum, and Push Doctor, one of the most exciting things about working in the digital health space is that no single firm has yet emerged as a clear leader in the field. However, the panellists identified a perceived gap between digital and biotech among some elements of the investment community, despite the opportunities that digital health provides in bridging that gap.

The panel also examined how the nature of the digital health field is disrupting traditional life science attitudes towards intellectual property (IP). Yet legal challenges remain, with regulation, data, and privacy noted as some of the key considerations for digital health firms by JAG Shaw Baker’s Shaw. The upcoming implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will take effect in the UK and across Europe from May 2018, means that data protection is an increasingly important issue for life science companies, explained Shaw.  

When asked what more the UK can be doing to support emerging digital health companies, Medopad’s Vahdat pointed to mentorships. The ability to learn from the mistakes and successes of other individuals and companies within digital health can help new digital health firms save both time and money.

Be part of the discussion

Digital health companies looking to connect with leaders in the field and raise their profile among investors will have the opportunity to do so at Biotech and Money’s DigiHealthEx Forum on 13 November 2017. Find out more. 

The next Biotechs and the City event will take place on 30 November 2017 at the High Commission of Australia, London.

Louise Fordham
Written By

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