Fenwick’s eighth annual Digital Health Investor Summit took place against the backdrop of strong and increasingly diverse investment markets, a focus on clinical validation of digital health tools, and a healthcare system that is shifting to prioritize wellness and disease prevention rather than treating diseases only after they have developed.

Speakers included Rock Health’s Bill

Industry leaders anticipate that the use of artificial intelligence in medical imaging will have a substantial clinical impact, ushering in an opportunity to significantly improve decision support in medical image interpretation. In this post, we cover a variety of promising medical imaging applications for AI and machine learning—including diagnosing cancer and brain aneurysms—as well as recent regulatory developments.

Metrics Climb

CB Insights reports that healthcare-related AI investment totaled $1.44 billion in the first half of 2019, putting investment in the space on track to surpass the prior year, in which investment reached $2.5 billion. Much of the attention to date has surrounded applications in medical imaging or radiology.

VC-backed deals and financing to healthcare AI startups, Q1'18 - Q2'19 ($M)

The National Center for Biologic Information (NCBI) reports that publications covering AI in radiology have steeply increased in recent years. Between 2016 and 2017, the number of articles published on the topic ranged from 700 to 800. That’s compared to 100 to 150 articles published between 2007 and 2008. In addition, more than half of recent articles focused on applications related to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT). And January saw the launch of a peer-reviewed journal devoted to AI in medical imaging: Radiology: Artificial Intelligence
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Rock Health reported that $4.2 billion was invested in digital health companies during the first half of 2019. This places the sector on pace to exceed 2018’s record total annual investment of $8.2 billion.

Strong and Steady with No Signs of Froth

This steady growth should put to rest, at least for the time being, concerns that emerged at the end of last year about a digital health investment bubble. Rock Health provides a detailed “bubble analysis” in its midyear report, but in short the venture fund concludes that the space is not experiencing a bubble thanks to sound business fundamentals, a strong base of repeat investors and the lack of fraud or misuse of funds.

Rock Health also notes that the $4.2 billion in investment was spread over 180 deals. About a third of the money invested went toward megadeals—deals of $100 million or more.


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Insights from Mary Meeker’s 2019 Internet Trends Report

In the latest edition of the Internet Trends report, Mary Meeker highlights the growing digitization of the healthcare sector, framing that growth squarely in the context of a U.S. healthcare system that—in some cases—has room for further innovation to better meet consumers’ demands or expectations.

Meeker, founder of Bond Capital (and former Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers general partner), launches the report’s healthcare section with an overview of a system that has the highest expenditures on healthcare as a percentage of GDP among other nations in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Adding in the high number of uninsured individuals, high administrative costs and outcomes that are worse than other developed countries, Meeker makes the case that the digitization of U.S. healthcare is driven by consumer demand for better alternatives.

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In our 2018 year-end review of life sciences and tech IPOs (co-authored by my colleagues James Evans and Rob Freedman), we noted that life sciences offerings totaled 67 raising an average of $133 million while there were 45 technology deals raising an average of more than $380 million, not including Spotify, whose unique direct listing process did not raise capital. We were curious to see if those trends would continue in 2019, so we took a look at the numbers year to date.

2019 Deal Size

Through the end of May 2019, there were 27 life sciences offerings that raised $2.3 billion. On average, life sciences IPOs grossed $86 million. The largest deal so far was Gossamer Bio’s initial public offering that garnered $276 million. The smallest offering was $5 million raised by Guardion Health Services.

On the technology side, there have been 11 IPOs through May raising an impressive $14 billion. However, that total includes the outsized offerings from Uber and Lyft which took in $8.1 billion and $2.34 billion respectively, lifting the average offering to $1.3 billion. Omitting the two rideshare companies, the value of the average tech offering drops to $416.7 million. After Uber and Lyft, the next largest tech offering was Pinterest at $1.4 billion.


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In its Q1 2019 digital health funding report Rock Health noted that investment in digital health companies leveled off in the first quarter after a record-setting 2018. At $986 million, investment in the first three months of the year was down 21 percent from the fourth quarter of 2018, when it hit $1.2 billion

But the leveling off in funding is more likely linked to an overall decrease in venture investment than to any weakness in the fundamentals of the digital health sector.

The PwC/CB Insights MoneyTree Report Q1 2019 states that global venture funding dropped 22 percent in the first quarter over the last quarter of 2018—from $67 billion in Q4 to $52.2 billion in Q1. U.S. venture investment overall dropped even more in Q1, from $38.7 billion to $24.6, or 36 percent. As a result, digital health venture investment is either even with or outperforming the market as a whole.


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With 58 U.S. biopharma IPOs in 2018, the biotech industry entered the new year with confidence. By all appearances, the longest and largest biotech IPO window in history was not going to close anytime soon. But it was biotech dealmaking that took center stage at the annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference at the beginning of 2019.

On the opening day of the annual confab in San Francisco, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Eli Lilly and Company both announced blockbuster deals — strengthening the case that M&A would likely be the exit of choice. Many IPO candidates may be reluctant to pursue a public offering, given lingering political and market uncertainty in the first part of the year.

After announcing Lilly’s deal to acquire Loxo Oncology, David Ricks, the company’s chairman and CEO, assured analysts that he expects there will be an increase in M&A activity in the year to come. Lilly’s CFO and SVP Joshua Smiley, added that the company could continue doing deals throughout the year. (Fenwick represented Loxo Oncology in the $8 billion deal)


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Fenwick & West Digital Health Investor Summit
The Seventh Annual Fenwick & West Digital Health Investor Summit profiled a sector that continues to attract record levels in investment, further matures and consolidates, and that is leveraging the newest technologies in blockchain and artificial intelligence to improve the practice and delivery of health care. Speakers included Rock Health’s Bill Evans and Goldman Sach’s Peter van der Goes, who discussed the possibility of an investment bubble and outlook for 2019, and Ruchita Sinha of Sanofi Ventures, who talked about blockchain in digital health. Fenwick’s Kristine Di Bacco moderated a panel on machine learning and artificial intelligence in healthcare with guest speakers Brandon Ballinger, co-founder of Cardiogram; Alison Darcy, founder and CEO of Woebot Labs; and Christine Lemke, co-founder and president of Evidation Health.


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Private investment in digital health continued apace in the second quarter of 2018, based on our latest look at deal flow. As the sector has matured, growth in investment levels quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year appears sustainable for the foreseeable future.

Likewise, the closing of a handful of megadeals each quarter is becoming the rule rather than the exception. The second quarter saw seven megadeals for $100 million or more. That is right in line with the first quarter, when we also recorded seven rounds of $100 million or greater.

The top investees in the second quarter were diverse, ranging from biopharmaceuticals to artificial intelligence to primary care. This diversity may be a sign that investors are looking beyond the low-hanging fruit of infrastructure and patient engagement, or even diagnostic applications, to areas such as primary care where opportunities for digital disruption are less obvious.

It is also interesting to note that over half of the investment rounds of $100 million or more went to companies based in China. We’ve seen a steady increase in investments in Chinese digital health companies over the past few years. But this is the first time that we have seen them account for half of the top deals—including the three largest rounds for $200 million or more.

Here’s a summary of the seven largest deals of the quarter:


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Fenwick corporate lawyer Julia Forbess discussed biotech investment and financing trends with the BIO Buzz Center at the 2017 BIO Investor Forum.

“For 2018, we’re still expecting to see investment in core areas—oncology, orphan drugs and neurology. One thing that could be new is the number of tech investors interested in diagnostics and other