Israel poised to take advantage of health technology ‘tsunami’

There are approximately 350 start-ups in cybersecurity and 1600 in health and life sciences in Israel today.

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October 21, 2018 17:35
3 minute read.
Israel poised to take advantage of health technology ‘tsunami’

A health technician analyses blood samples for tuberculosis testing in a high-tech tuberculosis lab in Carabayllo in Lima, Peru May 19, 2016.. (photo credit: MARIANA BAZO/REUTERS)

 
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Israeli companies are in a prime position to take advantage of a lucrative “health technology tsunami” that is quickly approaching the country’s shores, according to the head of Ra’anana-based health care and life sciences venture- capital firm aMoon.

Dr. Yair Schindel, managing partner and cofounder of the company, began his medical career in Shayetet 13, the Israeli Navy Seals, and graduated as the prestigious unit’s chief medical officer. Today, he is one of the leaders of the emerging health technology sector that he strongly believes can serve as a key engine of growth for the country.

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“We are approaching a tsunami in health care,” Schindel told The Jerusalem Post. “We want to take the convergence of technology and health care, and combine them together to build a powerful growth engine for Israel.”

While approximately 20% of all global private investments in cybersecurity are in Israel, an extraordinary portion of the $150 billion global market, Schindel believes that there is hidden potential in health technology, which can add to and surpass the country’s success in the digital world.

“Healthcare is worth $10.5 trillion globally, it is a huge elephant in the middle of the room,” he said.

An experienced entrepreneur, Schindel realized just how lucrative the health technology market could be while leading the Prime Minister’s Office’s National Digital Bureau.

“We did some homework. In Israel, we have approximately 350 start-ups in cybersecurity and 1600 in health and life sciences. That’s five times as much intellectual property, talent and creativity – and the market is 100 times bigger,” Schindel said. “About three years ago, the government said ‘we understand.’”

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In March, the cabinet approved a NIS 1 billion ($300 million) five-year national digital health plan which includes technological development, international cooperation, concentrated academic and industrial efforts and regulatory changes to encourage data research.

“In terms of a first step, that’s more aggressive than what we did at the time with cybersecurity,” Schindel said, underlining the importance of the digital health market.

Israel’s position as a possible leader of the health technology revolution is also boosted by its strategic advantage in healthcare data. The second and third largest healthcare databases in the world are Israeli healthcare providers Clalit and Maccabi, only surpassed by California-based Kaiser Permanente.

“In Israel, 98% of the population has electronic health records. Everything that you can almost think about is digital and available. That’s a huge strategic advantage and one we can leverage in this healthtech tsunami that’s coming.” For Schindel, Israel’s health technology ecosystem can thrive only when industry partners work together.

“Some of it is the entrepreneurial spirit, which is unique to Israel. Then you need funding solutions across the spectrum from super-early stage seed investments coming out of academia to late-stage funding which can build another Teva or another Check Point,” Schindel said.

AMoon co-founder Marius Nacht, the co-founder and chairman of Check Point Software, exclusively backed aMoon’s first health technology and life sciences fund which has invested in 16 companies.
The firm’s second fund, a mid-to-late stage fund which invests in biopharmaceutical, medical device and digital health companies, is set to close on December 31. The $500 million fund will be the largest of its kind in the country, with two-thirds being invested domestically.

AMoon Velocity, the company’s third fund, is currently in development and will focus on higher risk, disruptive, early stage technology.

“Healthcare is a more traditional industry than transportation or real estate, which is why innovation took longer than in other areas. Now it’s coming,” Schindel said.

“The opportunity is vast, but there needs to be a significant sense of urgency. We want to leverage the unique strategic advantages that Israel has as the ‘Start-Up Nation’ to contribute a lot more to global healthcare.”

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