While there’s no shortage of stories surrounding potential digital innovations in healthcare technology, healthcare has been historically slow to adopt transformative technologies. Still, emerging technologies such as AI and 3D printing are beginning to make their presence felt, and a new survey of key investors in healthcare and the life sciences show they believe there are opportunities for the industry to break the mold.
Conducted by LSX, the survey of 84 angel, family office, venture capital and corporate venture capital investors in Europe and North America identified where investors see the biggest emerging tech opportunities in healthcare.
Interestingly, 37 percent of respondents think advances in technology will have the most benefit on patient engagement, monitoring, and management, while 27 percent cite drug discovery, and 20 percent believe research and development will reap the biggest dividends.
The study showed that investor enthusiasm for the far-reaching impact of artificial intelligence and machine learning far outstrips that for other emerging technology. Around 68 percent of respondents said that will have the biggest impact, compared to the second place category of connected devices, which was named by 13 percent of respondents. Other technologies getting a nod from at least a few investors included robotics, 3D printing, blockchain, and cloud.
Investors’ interest in medtech and medical devices dropped year over year, with performance expectations there falling from 18 percent in 2018 to 10 percent in 2019.
The funding in medtech and medical devices appears to have shifted to biotech.
“The most currently undervalued sector is the medtech sector. So many funds have, for various reasons, stopped or reduced their appetite for medtech and more money now goes into biotech,” one European venture capitalist told the report’s authors, explaining that the trend may be to be relatively short-lived: “I don’t know if that will happen in the next 12 months, but I think there is the potential for some positive surprises and some relatively large exit transactions.”
While still relatively low, the interest in healthcare IT among investors is perking up this year. One in five respondents believe that healthcare IT will deliver the better performance in 2019 over last year. The enthusiasm in digital health performance also rose according to the study.
“I think a lot of people are starting to see the opportunity in healthtech and realize that the healthcare market is one of the last markets to be disrupted by technology,” said one health technology investor. “We’re starting to see quite a lot of traction for digital health technologies among B2B customers, like pharma, medical device companies, equipment providers, health insurers, and hospital systems. These larger providers are starting to adopt technology at scale.”