Ecosystem News

Healthtech investments to grow, says Dr Louiza Chitour


Plug and Play is one of the most active VC firms globally with over 250 investments per year across 18 industries.

The pandemic shed light on the need for healthtech solutions, in addition to the increase of startups exits and high valuation of digital health startups globally, says Dr Louiza Chitour, HealthTech Programme Manager, Plug and Play Abu Dhabi.

In comparison to 2019, 2020 saw an increase of 270 per cent in healthtech startup investments. The Covid-19 pandemic disrupted UAE’s healthcare sector which led to the acceleration and acceptance of technology adoption by both clinicians and patients.

We see that this will further boost the demand for telemedicine services and a more seamless healthcare experience from patients who would expect an easier and smooth booking, consultation, medication and reimbursement processes, and experience” added Dr Louiza.

Plug and Play is one of the most active VC firms globally with over 250 investments per year across 18 industries.

“We are now quite bullish in terms of digital health investments as we have made over 15 new investments worldwide just last year and have in our portfolio around 80 digital health startups with a wide range of tech solutions: robotics, IoT, SaaS platforms for chronic disease management, mental health, oncology, and several other areas. We even have unicorns in this portfolio like Guardant Health that is leading the field in precision oncology and is now valued at over $1.6 billion,” said Dr Louiza.

The lesson learned from the Covid-19 pandemic was that the healthcare digital transformation industry had to catch up with other industries to continue delivering its services.

“I think the biggest impact was on shifting the mindset about what technology could bring NOW versus in the distant future. Furthermore, the mindset shift happened at the government level globally and regionally with reforms and updates to several stringent health regulations that so far stood in the way of the sector’s tech disruption” added Dr Louiza.

“We do foresee more inter-startup collaborations that would allow them to diversify their offerings and facilitate the adoption of digital solutions by their end-users, at later stages we could see the private sector like pharma/life sciences players here in the region go down the acquisition path with health tech startups to strengthen their patient/HCP engagement strategies across therapeutic areas like diabetes, Cardio-vascular diseases or oncology.”