Global: Healthcare capital raising remains strong

Louise Schaper

It has been a busy couple of weeks of early-stage healthcare funding with companies around the world raising capital as well as a new health fund in Australia.

Specialist digital health fund, Sydney-based Healthcare Ventures will invest in early-stage and growth companies transforming healthcare via digital health technologies.

The fund first closing is expected in the first half of the year.

The investment strategy focuses primarily on Australian companies going global, led by founders, that are redefining how healthcare is provided and consumed while delivering better outcomes for all.

“The digitally enabled transformation of healthcare across the globe is happening at a phenomenal pace, accelerated by Covid-19 and the resulting focus on data and technologies for advanced individual and population health. We see this as providing significant opportunity for a specialist fund and specialist team focussed on digital health investment,” said Louise Schaper, chief executive of the Australasian Institute of Digital Health and fund partner.

Porto-based SWORD Health, a tech-enabled provider of musculoskeletal care, has raised a US$25m financing round, bringing its cumulative fundraising to US$50m.

The round was led by Todd Cozzens, managing partner at Transformation Capital and former healthcare investor at Sequoia Capital. Existing investors Khosla Ventures, Founders Fund, Green Innovations, Vesalius Biocapital and Faber also participated.

“This was a breakout year for SWORD Health,” said founder and chief executive Virgilio Bento. “We grew our client footprint and revenue dramatically and were selected in 75% of evaluations we participated in by employers searching for a better way to provide musculoskeletal care to their populations.”

The company will use the funds to enhance product capabilities, expand industry partnerships and drive adoption across the benefits management ecosystem with employers, health plans and alliance partners.

In Madrid, medical device company MedLumics, which has developed the first optically guided real-time ablation catheter system for the treatment of atrial fibrillation, has closed an upsized €18m (US$21.7m) financing round and has appointed venture capital investor Rich Ferrari as chairman.

MedLumics’ optical catheter displays lesion creation in real-time providing the physician with direct visual confirmation of conduction tissue denaturation.

Kurma Partners joined the round which includes and was initially led by Asabys Partners, along with new investors, VI Partners Swiss Innovation and CDTI Innvierte Economía, and existing investors Andera Partners, Caixa Capital Risc and Innogest Capital II.

Having achieved pre-clinical feasibility in 2020, these proceeds will now enable MedLumics to initiate first-in-human regulatory clinical studies and automate scalable product manufacturing.

In Strasbourg, RDS, which has developed a connected strip that facilitates the monitoring of patients at risk of post-surgical complications, has raised €3m seed funding.

The round involved private and institutional investors from Europe, the US and Asia. Almost €1m in non-dilutive public funding was also secured with the support of Bpifrance and Région Grand Est, accelerated by the selection of RDS in July last year as a winner of the national i-Lab competition.

RDS also benefits from the support from the French Ministry of the Armed Forces, through the Defence Innovation Agency, as part of the call for tenders launched in March last year for innovative solutions to combat Covid-19.

In Grenoble, Grapheal, a developer of graphene-based embedded biosensors for on-site diagnostics and remote patient monitoring, has raised a total of €1.9m in equity and non-dilutive sources, including seed financing from Novalis Biotech’s Acceleration Fund, several innovation grants, and Bpifrance convertible notes and loans.

The funds will be used to advance the industrialisation of Grapheal’s flexible graphene-based biosensor technology.

“Grapheal merges digital bioelectronic sensing technologies with connectivity into embedded systems for on-site diagnostics and remote patient monitoring, so is a perfect fit to the Novalis portfolio” said Wim Van Criekinge, co-founder of Novalis Biotech, who has also been appointed to the Grapheal Board of Directors. “There is enormous potential for applications of their digital technology in the medical field, but the rapid Covid-19 saliva test could be the game-changing test the world needs to safely return to normal, particularly at airports, concert halls, and stadiums.”

EIT Health, a network of innovators supported by the European Union’s European Institute of Innovation and Technology, has announced its support for two innovator teams following the 2020 Wild Card programme, selecting MiMARK and Orbit Health.

The two teams, from Spain and Germany respectively, will be supported by EIT Health over two years with up to €1.5m each.

Barcelona-based MiMark focuses on improving the accuracy and efficiency of diagnostics for endometrial cancer while Munich-based Orbit Health focused on the development of an artificial intelligence solution to enable the effective personalisation of treatment for Parkinson’s disease.

In India, digital healthcare platform Medibuddy has raised US$40m in Series B funding.

This round saw new investment from India Life Sciences Fund III, LLC, TEAMFund, JAFCO Asia Fund, FinSight Ventures, ALES Global Japan and Beyond Next Ventures. Existing investors Bessemer Venture Partners, Milliways Ventures and Rebright Partners also participated.

“Telemedicine in India is growing at a monumental pace and the pandemic has only further amplified the importance of going digital. MediBuddy is by far the leader in the digital healthcare space in terms of scale, size and customers served; and we are excited to partner with MediBuddy in this growth journey to make high-quality healthcare accessible to a billion Indians,” said Vikul Goyal, venture partner, FinSight Ventures.

Also in India, mental health platform InnerHour has raised US$5.2m in Series A funding led by venture capital firm Lightbox Ventures.

Capricorn Ventures & Micasa Investments, Pankaj Sahni, chief executive of Medanta, and Hitesh Oberoi, chief executive of Info Edge India also participated.

It the largest fundraise in the Indian mental health ecosystem to date.

“We believe a tech-led ecosystem that offers seamless continuity of care and support is very much the need of the hour for millions suffering and seeking quality mental healthcare. This funding round gives us the opportunity to further build our omnichannel products and services, catering to a range of mental health conditions,” said founder and chief executive Amit Malik.

In Bangladesh, Maya, a healthtech platform for women’s health, has raised US$2.2m in seed funding. It is the largest amount raised by a Bangladeshi healthtech company so far.

The round was led by early-stage fund Anchorless Bangladesh and private equity firm The Osiris Group.

“Super excited to announce that we at Anchorless Bangladesh have co-led a US$2.2m seed round in Maya with The Osiris Group!” said Rahat Ahmed, founding parter and chief executive of Anchorless Bangladesh on LinkedIn. “We’ve spent months working closely with founder Ivy Huq Russell and her team in what we’ve found to be the most fascinating and promising healthtech startup in Bangladesh. They’ve built a product that creates much-needed trust amongst its users and scales via technology to a much wider population in Bangladesh and elsewhere. We believe Maya’s potential to have a global impact on healthcare access is immense.”

Funds raised will be used for expansion.

In Singapore, healthcare startup Bot MD, which has developed artificial intelligence-based clinical assistant for doctors, has raised US$5m in Series A funding led by Monk’s Hill Ventures.

Other investors in the round include SeaX Ventures, XA Network and SGInnovate as well as healthcare industry veterans Lu Yoh-Chie, Jean-Luc Butel and Steve Blank.

Funds raised will be used to help accelerate the company’s growth across Asia Pacific.

“Today, seamless integration across hospital systems and instant access to medical information can make a big difference in helping doctors swiftly perform their work. We are pleased to support strong homegrown deep tech startups like Bot MD in building and scaling their solutions, as they meet the growing need for improved healthcare products and services,” said SGInnovate chief executive Lim Jui.

And in China, precision medicine startup Vision Medicals has raised Rmb200m (US$31m) in Series C funding led by Tencent. CICC Capital and CDH Investments also participated.

Funds raised will be used for product development, medical equipment registration, clinical services support and marketing activities, the company said.