Today marks the launch of Crista Galli Ventures, an early-stage healthtech fund that offers patient capital and deep healthcare expertise. Crista Galli Ventures partners with early-stage founders at Seed and Series A to build world-leading companies, and has tailored its strategy to the needs of ambitious healthtech entrepreneurs, and the unique industry in which they…
In today’s world, technology has become deeply intertwined with the medical industry. As healthcare solutions have to work for patients from all walks of life, it is essential to encourage the use of new products and technologies. In an attempt to help healthtech companies come up with such solutions, Dr. Fiona Pathiraja has launched Crista Galli Ventures, a unique venture capital fund that intends to revolutionise healthtech investing in Europe.
Early-stage healthtech fund
The former NHS radiologist, Dr. Pathiraja claims that healthtech investing is quite different from traditional VC investing, which forces companies to meet unrealistic timelines; that could spell bad news for patients. Understanding the significance of empathy in healthtech, Dr. Pathiraja and the team behind Crista Galli Ventures focuses on it.
The early-stage healthtech fund offers patient capital, along with healthcare expertise. It claims to partner with early-stage founders at Series A and Seed stage to come up with world-leading companies. The healthtech fund has customised its strategy to the requirements of aspirational entrepreneurs in the industry. It will invest in healthcare solutions that focus on deep tech, digital health and personalised medicine. And, CGV will not invest in drug discovery or biotechnology and will also steer away from devices, especially when they are non-software enabled.
Furthermore, CGV has also launched Crista Galli LABS, which intends to bring greater diversity in the industry by supporting founders from underrepresented backgrounds in their initial stages. Crista Galli Ventures operates with offices in London and Copenhagen. The firm has already invested in 15 companies such as ContextFlow, Skin Analytics, and Quibim.
As Founder Dr. Pathiraja explains, “In the medical industry, tech was once seen as the poor cousin of research and medical education. But that’s changing. Case-in-point, the Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine both now report on digital innovations. The sector is coming to recognise the critical role that healthtech can play. Now is the perfect time to build the solutions that will shape the healthcare industry for decades to come.”
How’s it unique?
Dr. Pathiraja believes that Traditional VC fundraising cycles don’t typically work for healthtech startups faced with a complex and highly-regulated market. “Young companies are often expected to adhere to timelines that don’t acknowledge the realities of building a company in the healthcare industry. Crista Galli Ventures provides a better solution – the ability to make agile decisions, while thinking long term.”
Talking about traditional VCs, they need to return money to their investors and can begin to realise the investments only after five years following which they get returns. However, the healthcare industry works differently. It might take longer to arrive but will be successful in the end. It is important for healthtech investors to be empathetic and patient.
According to Crista Galli Ventures, unlike typical VC firms, it’s structure lends itself to this. As a single investor fund, the firm has the opportunity to grow internally without the need to fundraise.
It claims to be free from the usual five-year fund cycles, thereby allowing it to be flexible and focus on a longer time horizon – benefiting patients, companies and investors.
Crista Galli LABS: An insight!
Crista Galli LABS is a standalone investing strand, which lets CGV to invest in pre-seed startups. Besides the investment, these companies will have access to coaching and mentoring from the CGV team. At least 50% startups that receive Calli Galli LABS investment will be led by exceptional founders and help them secure later-stage funding, claims the firm.
“As a healthtech investor, we noticed a stark lack of diversity on both sides of the investor/founder table. The overwhelming need for an elite education in deep tech (MD or PhD) means that those from more diverse backgrounds are often excluded,” explains Dr. Pathiraja.
Main image picture credits: Crista Galli Ventures
In the past two decades, a range of diseases including Ebola, Chikungunya, Zika Virus, and other notable outbreaks kept the healthcare industry and workers occupied. However, the recent COVID-19 pandemic rattled every possible industry instilling a few new habits, including social distancing.
The social distancing concept led to the sharp growth of e-health startups, as customers moved to the online consultation, treatment, medical tests, and more. One such startup is Healthlane, an application that helps people to get quality and affordable healthcare services easily.
Y Combinator alumnus scoops up €2M
Recently, the London-headquartered Digital Horizon venture fund invested $ 2.4 million (approx €2M) in Healthlane, a Y Combinator alumnus. The Nigerian startup focuses on modern, online consultations for local and remote patients, alongside traditional face-to-face public health services – across Africa.
Digital Horizon is an international investment company that invests in early-stage startups with promising solutions for the financial industry, e-commerce, education, and enterprise software.
Other investors, including Sequoia Capital, Silicon Valley Bank, TSVC, Supernode Ventures, CRE Africa, Capitoria, as well as several early investors in Ping An Good Doctor, also participated in the round.
Online and offline healthcare services
Available on both Google Play Store and App Store, Healthlane is creating a platform that allows patients to book and pay for a doctor’s appointment at a public clinic through an app. The startup intends to replicate the success of China’s “Ping An Good Doctor” by building an ecosystem of medical services based on existing offline infrastructure.
Right now, more than 30 medical institutions in Nigeria and Cameroon co-operate with the company, and the number of clients in the first half of the year exceeded 60,000 people.
The company is also planning to add new features in the future, including calling a doctor at home, gaining access to test results and prescriptions, telemedicine, and ordering medicines with delivery will also become available.
“Unlike many startups that rely only on telemedicine, Healthlane’s solution combines remote and face-to-face health services. Furthermore, the service’s customers become not only users but also doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, and other market participants. In the future, this all-in-one approach will enable the company to expand the list of services by adding, for example, insurance products. In this, the company’s model is similar to the Chinese platform Ping An Good Doctor, whose audience over several years of operation amounted to 315 million people, with its capitalisation on the stock exchange growing to $ 15 billion. I am confident that Africa needs such projects, so we will continue to monitor the development of the local digital healthcare sector and will keep looking for exciting opportunities,” commented Alan Vaksman, founder, and managing partner of Digital Horizon.
Founded by Alain Nteff, Healthlane is one of the 12 African startups that got into Y Combinator’s 2020 winter batch. Due to the growing concerns about COVID-19, this year’s Demo Day was held online.
Main image credits: Andrey_Popov/ Shutterstock
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Amsterdam and Hoboken-based Castor a leading provider of clinical trial technology that automates the research process, has announced that it has raised around €10.1 million in funding. The round was led by Two Sigma Ventures with participation from Hambrecht Ducera Growth Ventures and existing investor INKEF Capital. Castor will use the funding to further invest in enabling patient-centric, data-powered clinical trials.
Founded in 2011, Castor is a cloud-based clinical data platform that simplifies the clinical trial process, from recruitment to analysis, for researchers globally. It’s used by more than 50,000 users across academia and commercial research, powering more than 4,000 studies with more than 2 million enrolled patients across 90 countries. 192 medical device, biotech, and pharmaceutical companies and contract research organizations (CROs) are using Castor’s platform.
Castor made its platform freely available for all non-profit COVID-19 research starting in February. They are one of the only providers that can enable large-scale decentralized trials to accelerate the work of researchers who are trying to combat the disease. More than 200 COVID-19 projects across 33 countries are currently running on the platform, including the World Health Organization’s global Solidarity trial. Through their platform, more than 10,000,000 COVID-19 data points have been captured and 50 COVID-19 projects have committed to making their data reusable and accessible to others, so that the world can collaborate effectively to stop the disease.
“There are three key challenges that need to be addressed in the clinical trial space: making research more patient-centric, maximizing the impact of data on human lives, and better addressing the needs of underserved communities,” said Derk Arts, MD, PhD, CEO and founder of Castor.
“With this new investment, we will be able to make significant progress in all three areas by continuing to deliver user-friendly, accessible technology that can support remote trials, while ensuring machine-readable output that allows for trial automation and data reuse. In the next 18 months we intend to support our customers with patient recruitment and synthetic control arms, through better use of their data. We are excited to partner with Two Sigma Ventures, who bring extensive experience in leveraging the power of data and AI to disrupt incumbent industries.”
Castor will use this new funding to further strengthen its support for patient-centric, remote trials and to enable customers to maximize value from existing and newly generated data throughout the clinical trial process.
Villi Iltchev, Partner at Two Sigma Ventures, commented: “We believe that the life sciences industry is lacking a comprehensive and scalable solution for recruiting candidates for clinical trials, managing the research process, and effectively harnessing the vast amounts of data those clinical trials produce to drive medical breakthroughs. Castor’s technology and team have the ability to meet all of those needs as evidenced by their customer demand and ability to enter new segments. It is our belief that their vision to enable AI and automation in clinical trials will quickly change the face of clinical research.”
Danish startup Practio has completed an equity funding round, which, together with loan conversion and debt financing, totals €8.2 million. Practio has developed and deployed a digital healthcare platform, which enables pharmacies to become central points-of-care. Initial Practio services include vaccinations and COVID-19 antibody testing, but the company is planning to roll out broader platform services over time.
Practio has deployed its platform across Denmark since 2015 and started its rollout in the UK in 2019. The latest funding will be used to speed up the deployment in the UK and to enter the German market later this year with other countries to follow from 2021 onwards.
Since 2018, Practio has been supported by PHOENIX group, a leading healthcare provider in Europe, which has now become a shareholder of Practio. Both companies share the ambition to strengthen the role of local pharmacies as direct, close-to-home healthcare providers. Spintop and PHOENIX were also joined in the investment round by Carl Westin, the international investment company with a focus on digital health.
Practio’s co-founder and CEO Mads Mikkelsen said: “Recent events have clearly demonstrated the global need to fundamentally rethink primary healthcare delivery. We’re super excited about the strong support from Spintop, PHOENIX group and Carl Westin in accelerating our continued expansion, enabling better access to quality healthcare services for more people”.
Erik Wenngren, co-founder and partner of Spintop Ventures commented: “Spintop is pleased to be able to support Practio in its international rollout by leading this funding round. The company’s service platform off-loads the strained healthcare sector by enabling pharmacies to become proper points-of-care and it also brings true value to pharmacies by giving them possibilities to service their customer better and bring new revenue streams”
Dr. Tobias Bucher, Head of Digital Transformation & Enablement at PHOENIX group, alsoc commented on the investment: “We believe that Practio’s services can transform local pharmacies into central points-of-care for their community. This benefits patients, who can trust to receive important health care services as well as products at one central place close to their home. At the same time, it benefits pharmacies, which can offer more relevant services, thus strengthening their close connections to customers.”
Today Infermedica, an AI-driven multi-language platform that delivers rapid symptom triage and instructions to speed up patient healthcare, announces its approximate €8.4 million Series A, led by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Heal Capital.
The investment will be used for platform R&D to further enhance patient triage and symptom checking features as well as clinical decision support analysis – including intake collection, differential diagnostics and lab test interpretation – and to expand operations in Germany and the US, where Infermedica currently has one office. The new capital places total funding to date at around €12.6 million.
Founded in 2012 in Wrocław, Poland, by Piotr Orzechowski Infermedica is an AI-driven, customisable, multi-language platform that aids patient care and healthcare service delivery. Based on the expertise of doctors and mixed with AI and machine learning algorithms, the solution delivers rapid symptom triage and instructions so patients can receive required healthcare quickly. The company operates in B2B model and helps insurance, telemedicine companies, and health systems increase efficiency through fast, digital symptom-checks. According to New England Healthcare Institute, 25% of cases can be self-treated or treated through tele-consultation and around €31.9 billion can be saved per year when patients are led to proper care (in the US only).
Infermedica currently employs more than 100 specialists – including doctors, data scientists, and engineers, and doubled their team size in the last year. So far, they have nearly 60 B2B clients in the healthcare space, spanning 30 countries and have completed more than 6 million patient health checks. Notable partners and clients include Microsoft – which uses the Infermedica platform within its Healthcare bot – insurance giant Allianz, medical cost containment firm Global Excel, and leading German and Portuguese healthcare providers Sana Kliniken and Médis.
Infermedica also engages in non-profit projects – during the pandemic, the company quickly established a ‘COVID-19 Risk Assessment’ protocol in three weeks to aid with SARS-CoV-2 symptom checking. The tool has been used by more than 500K patients and has been implemented by 300 organisations, including two national governments.
Commenting on the news, Piotr Orzechowski, CEO at Infermedica, said: “We’re thrilled to welcome EBRD and Heal Capital as new investors on board of our venture. Our mission is to improve quality and access to primary care with the use of AI-powered, constantly improving technology. As we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic has placed great pressure on health systems globally and it’s our obligation to help healthcare providers deliver safe and timely care. This additional funding will enable us to continue developing cutting-edge AI-triage technology and expand our commercial operations in the US and Germany. ”
Maria Barsuk, Venture Capital Investment Program at EBRD added: “Healthcare is vital, but there are limitations around availability and cost, which often result in patients worldwide not receiving the treatment they require. Now the world, facing the COVID-19 pandemic, is in greater need for remote healthcare than ever before. Therefore, adoption of digital healthcare solutions will only accelerate and become mainstream, as industry players look for new ways to deliver first-class service. We’re glad to invest in Infermedica’s team and support its future progress.”
Dr. Christian Weiss, Managing Partner at Heal Capital, commented: “Technology has the capability to transform healthcare, but there needs to be real harmony between innovation and human expertise – Infermedica has found it. The platform is streamlining healthcare delivery for doctors and patients, and its continuous high accuracy, alongside the company’s dedication to innovative technology is very impressive. We’re delighted to be onboard as Infermedica embarks on the next stage of its journey.”