StartUp Health reports more global deals, uptick in pharma investment in digital health

Healthcare and medical app Ping An Good Doctor was one of the top two deals cited by StartUp Health's Q3 report, receiving $500 million in funding.

Two funding reports released by StartUp Health and Rock Health demonstrate different views about the state of digital health investment.

The third-quarter reports by StartUp Health and Rock Health share one key finding, though – the digital health industry's major investment players are no longer confined to technology companies based in innovation hubs such as Silicon Valley. Major investors in digital health companies now include non-traditional corporations from outside the coasts of the U.S. and also globally.

StartUp Health CEO and co-founder Steven Krein said the size of the deals in the third quarter of 2016 are significant —– according to the company's findings, there were ten deals worth more than $100 million, and four deals worth more than $400 million during this period. The top two deals cited by StartUp Health's Q3 report —– healthcare and medical app Ping An Good Doctor, and Onduo, a diabetes joint venture between Google's life sciences arm Verily and Sanofi —– each received $500 million in funding.

“I think the international component to the industry is visible by the top two biggest deals that were done — the idea that this is not a transformation in the industry in the United States alone,” said Krein. “You're seeing the industry is global and there are startups and entrepreneurs upending the industry from all over the world. Also, it's an indication that entrepreneurs aren't just coming out of Silicon Valley, Boston, or New York, which in a lot of industries is where the big transformation and funding take place.”

See also: 7 takeaways from StartUp Health's annual report

Source: StartUp Health Insights

Startup Health's report found that more than $2.3 billion in digital health funding was awarded in the third quarter of 2016, a figure that surpasses all previous third quarters since the company started tracking digital health funding in 2010. Furthermore, investments in the third quarter of 2016 exceeded total investments in all of 2010 as well as 2011.

“When you add up the total of the year so far, which is $6.5 billion, that's already bigger than last year,” Krein said. “Clearly, it's on track to beat the previous record from 2014 of $7.1 billion.”

Rock Health, on the other hand, found that there have only been two digital health IPOs in 2016 to date, compared to a total of six in 2015. The two IPOs include biotech startup NantHealth, filed for its $91 million IPO on June 2, and Tabula Rasa Healthcare, - a provider-focused health IT company, in its IPO on September 29 raised $51.6 million, which represents the smallest total amount raised publicly in an IPO since 2012. Medical device company iRhythm Technologies, which earned $36 million in sales in 2015 from its Zio Service and heart rate-monitoring patch, is expected to be the next digital health IPO.

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Stock prices for 17 of the 30 digital health companies in Rock Health's index were up since the start of the year, while 13 were down. Among them, hospital consultant Evolent Health (up 114%) and Vocera Communications (up 54%) had the biggest returns of the year to date, while Fitbit (down 53%) and Computer Programs and Systems (down 47%) suffered the greatest losses.

But while IPOs only amounted to $142 million in value in 2016 so far, Rock Health reported 112 digital health acquisitions in 2016 to date, with disclosed funding reaching $12 billion, almost double that of 2015.

Rock Health reported that 90% of digital health acquisitions were made by publicly-traded U.S.-based companies, but that there is growing interest globally as well. There have been 10 non-U.S. deals in 2016 to date, including Japanese athletic wear company Asics' acquisition of fitness-tracking app RunKeeper and Dutch technology giant Philips' purchase of health management software company Wellcentive.

Source: StartUp Health Insights

While the San Francisco Bay Area, New York City, and Boston continue to lead in digital health funding in the U.S., with 42% of funding ($2.7 billion) coming from these areas, investors are increasingly showing interest in startups based in growing hubs such as Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and Chicago.

Troy Bannister, academy analyst and one of the authors of the StartUp Health report, pointed to Tennessee and Colorado as growing digital health hubs as well.

“MD Save in Tennessee was almost a $9 million deal,” said Bannister. “It's a consumer-facing research price transparency kind of option. And Minnesota had over $200 million in deals this year from seven deals.”

See also: How pharma can stay competitive in the digital world

The growing interest among  hospitals and healthcare providers to work with digital health companies has aided startups.When “you bring them all together in a way that they're all working in the same direction, you have the recipe for what you need to succeed as a startup in this industry,” said Krein.

Among the international players, Krein cited growth in China and Europe.

“Europe has a lot of research so it has a lot more clinical stuff, whereas China has a lot of problems connecting their people to the providers and doctors,” explained Bannister.

And while digital health companies and technology firms continue to be the main acquirers of other digital health companies, representing 63% of all acquisitions, Rock Health reported 20% of acquisitions by non-traditional stakeholders. That's a finding that StartUp is also seeing.

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“We're seeing a lot of corporate or pharmaceutical companies moving outside of internal R&D and using that to purchase innovations externally,” said Bannister. “So they're investing but also buying things under their corporate mission that also have financial benefits to them. We're seeing payers like Blue Cross Blue Shield, which has their own venture app now — Sandbox — that have very clear missions.”

“You're seeing a trend with hospitals that are now ready to embrace and work with young companies to co-develop and commercialize,” added Krein. “Without that, you basically have startups without the ability to validate and commercialize, which makes it incredibly difficult because in this industry, you can't do it alone.”