Data and analytics companies continue to dominate funding in digital health, but a couple of emerging sectors are starting to gain some traction: brain sensor technologies and diagnostics.
The overall amount of health tech investment was down in February from the same period last year, but venture capitalists and strategic players in the sector were as active as ever. Even though funders invested 33 percent less last month than they did the previous year, deal volume nearly doubled. In February of this year, 32 deals closed for a total of $107.95 million invested, compared with 17 deals in February 2012 for $161.51 million.
Here’s a quick snapshot of activity last month:
- The uptick in deal volume could be a reflection of the increase in startup accelerators, said Unity Stoakes, Startup Health’s co-founder and president. For example, Medikly, MyFitnessWallet and DocTree InfoServices — all companies that raised funding last month — are graduates of accelerator programs.
- Analytics companies continue to attract the most funding (little surprise here as big data is a hot area in health and outside it). Two of the biggest deals of the month involved data and analytics startups backed by large health systems (Geisinger Health System is behind xG Health Solutions and Health Catalyst received funding from Kaiser Permanente and a venture fund connected to Indiana University Health), highlighting that institutional players are increasingly seeing benefits and opportunities in big data.
- An interesting sub-category attracting a good deal of money and attention in digital health: brain injury sensors and diagnostics. Startup Health points out that in February, startups Brain Sentry and x2 Biosystems, which use sensors attached to helmets or worn elsewhere on the head to monitor head impact, raised funding from investors. In January, MC10, a Cambridge, Mass., startup pioneering wearable sensor technology, and Reebok announced their own head impact indicator. And the NFL and GE also recently announced multi-million dollar initiatives to prevent and treat traumatic brain injury with new technology.
- Just a couple of months into the year, M&A activity in the sector is heating up. In January, Samsung announced that it would purchase medical imaging company Neurologica and UnitedHealth Group acquired digital health company Humedica. On the more consumer-facing front in February, Jawbone bought mobile app maker MassiveHealth and design agency Visere and Practice Fusion snapped up mobile health app 100Plus.