Investing into the future of healthcare, view of a Deeptech Venture Capitalist

Health, a crucial factor of our lives that many of us start thinking about only when it goes wrong. Many of us, in the fast-paced startup industry, forget that without proper functioning of our bodies and by extension minds we wouldn’t be able to function at all.

Furthermore, or maybe because of that, our current healthcare system, the safety net that we hope will fix our bodies when everything else fails is outdated. It is still standing mostly on the backs of hard-working people whose lives could be made significantly easier if us, technologists and entrepreneurs, focused more on solving their everyday problems. 

Healthcare, as an industry, is globally valued at $8.9 Trillion and encompasses a complex set of products and services, that range from basics of our care systems, such as hospital networks and primary care providers to groundbreaking therapeutic and diagnostic solutions, coming straight out of labs of some of our most innovative companies. Healthcare and its costs are also some of the most pressing problems of today’s developed world, where we struggle to imagine how we will be able to pay for care of our aging population. Just the world-wide cost of Alzheimer’s related care has recently climbed over $1 Trillion per year, and that’s “just” one disease. At the same time our healthcare systems are burdened by one of the biggest regulatory loads, causing healthcare workers to be burdened by meaningless paperwork, and drug development nearly turning un-economic (by the latest figures, it cost $2.3 Billion to bring one new drug to market). 

But the biggest problems can usually be transformed into the biggest opportunities. While there are already new movements (longevity, quantified self) trying to circumvent the traditional healthcare system altogether, here we would like to discuss how new disruptive technologies coming from the fields of Digital health and MedTech give us hope for saving our current Care systems and helping them become more effective and equitable. Moreover, as a16z notes, they present us one of the biggest business opportunities in the coming years. 

Healthcare innovation throughout history

Healthcare and Medicine have been always dependent on the latest science and innovation for moving forward. Medicine is probably as old as humanity itself, and in our history its practice has synergistically co-developed with biology and other sciences, but in the western world we date the emergence of modern medicine to 18th century after the start of the Industrial revolution. The first vaccines, as one of the first biotechnologies in medicine were invented in 1796 by Edward Jenner, but purely technological solutions have started to impact medicine and healthcare a while later. One of the first medical devices the electrocardiograph (ECG) has been developed nearly after 100 years from that, in 1887, by Willem Einthoven, starting the beginning of Medical technology (MedTech) industry. Digital heath, dates its beginning just a few years later to the year 1897 where the first diagnosis was made over the telephone. After these early beginnings of the intersection of Healthcare and Tech in the end of the 19th century we have seen a flurry of MedTech innovation in the 20th century, that included the invention of dialysis machines, ultrasound, the insulin pump and PET scanners among many others.

Healthcare innovation today and power of the ecosystem in healthcare

Today we see the tremendous potential in integrating the latest AI software especially LLM derived agents and novel machine learning techniques into the everyday workflows of physicians to make their lives easier, mining patient data for insight that will enable more personalized medicine and developing AI enabled medical devices and digital therapeutics that will provide us with accurate diagnoses or help us treat the most pressing diseases of today. To that point our team at Tensor Ventures has already made multiple bets into the space, we have helped to incubate Aireen, AI medical device that provides non-invasive, pain-less screening of chronic diseases by analyzing digital images of the retina, Scalpel, an AI platform improves surgical efficiency and patient safety through automatic identification and classification of surgical inventory and Solvemed, an AI based, first-in-class digital pupillometry and eye-movement clinical examination and remote monitoring tool. 

All of our Investments into this space have taught us a crucial lesson, healthcare innovation cannot be done in a vacuum. Healthcare and Medicine are multifaceted fields, where the interest of patients, carers, healthcare systems and last but not lest commerce, collide. An ecosystem approach to building the next generation of healthcare companies is necessary that’s why we are happy to mention, our newest partnership with Caelestinus healtech incubator, a unique institution that connects digital health and MedTech startups directly to both hospitals and healthcare providers such as IKEM and AKESO group and providers of cutting edge health data infrastructure provider Intesystems. Connections like these can help the next generation of medical innovation startups, better understand their customers, validate their technology faster and make their technology viable in the larger health technology and data ecosystem.

Healthcare innovation tomorrow

To conclude we are quite excited for the future cutting edge medical and healthcare innovations, especially those that are based on deep technological background, and have a defensible edge in both engineering and connection to the wider healthcare ecosystem.

Some of the areas we are excited by the most include AI agents and LLM, helping to organize and analyze medical data and streamline clinical workflows, and also new types of innovative medical devices, digital therapeutics, and diagnostics enabled the latest software advances and huge amounts of health data available. Last but not least we believe that leveraging the latest Deep Tech advances for preventative care and wellbeing solutions, will also have a huge impact on our personal health, if they provide a pathway for cooperation with the larger health ecosystem and aren’t just isolated to the end consumer. 

If your company or just your aspirations sound anything like the stuff described above, please don’t hesitate to reach me out at jan{at sing} or at my linkedin

Also, huge thanks if you are actually finishing up this article, as in this age of short attention spans, you are probably one of the few!

Jan Faflík, Tensor Ventures


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