Covid-19 has propelled digital health into the mainstream. From telehealth to clinical intelligence to AI-enabled drug discovery, these Canada-based startups stand to benefit in a post-Covid world.
Digital health — the use of digital information technology to drive improvements in the design of medical products and delivery of healthcare — has grown in popularity and potential over the last decade.
Digital health startups across the globe have seen impressive investment growth, with funding growing almost 12x between 2010 ($1.6B USD) and 2019 ($18.5B USD).
But the Covid-19 pandemic has taken digital health to the next level, thrusting the technology into the mainstream. The challenges posed by the crisis have prompted broad-based development and adoption of digital health solutions — from telehealth to clinical intelligence to AI-enabled drug discovery — to help contain and combat the virus.
Startups in the space have already raised $17.8B USD year-to-date (YTD) globally, well on track to outpace last year’s levels.
In Canada, the funding growth is even more pronounced.
So far this year Canada-based digital health startups have already raised more than $300M USD, roughly double the amount raised in all of 2019.
Interestingly, provider- and patient-centric solutions have typically dominated Canada’s digital health sector, but this year, a newer segment that caters to life science R&D is gaining traction.
The companies in this segment may be younger than those in the other digital health segments (5.9 years old, on average), but they’ve quickly become leaders in 2020 YTD (raising $202.4M USD). This funding inflection has partially been driven by the urgent need to characterize Covid-19 and to develop effective diagnostics, vaccines, and treatments against it. An example is AbCellera Biologics, developer of an AI-enabled antibody discovery platform, which raised $105M USD in a Series B round to accelerate its Covid-19 antibody discovery program.
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DIGITAL HEALTH SEGMENT BREAKDOWN
- Provider: This segment comprises companies that offer digital health products and services used primarily by healthcare providers (e.g. doctors, nurses, therapists, or any other professional or organization that delivers care services). These digital health solutions span several applications — from monitoring & diagnostics to clinical data & knowledge sharing to digital front door enablement.
- Patient: Companies in this segment offer digital health products and services that are primarily used by consumers/patients. Some examples include smart devices (e.g. vision-improving smart glasses, connected dosimeters, and fitness trackers), online pharmacies, and telehealth platforms.
- Life science R&D: This segment includes companies that offer digital health products and services that are primarily used by biopharmaceutical & medical device manufacturers as well as life science researchers (e.g. academic, medical, or independent research institutes).
- Payer & public health: Companies in this segment offer digital health products and services that are primarily used by healthcare payers, employers, and public health stewards.