Amid coronavirus, Israel micro-fund seeks to invest in wellness startup

Welltech1, an Israeli innovation hub and micro-fund that invests in early-stage companies with technologies to help make people healthier and happier, is calling on startups in the “wellness technology” space to compete for an investment.

The selected startup, which will be chosen by wellness experts from companies around the globe, will be eligible for an investment of up to $200,000.

Applications are now open, and the deadline is May 18, 2020, Welltech1 said in a statement.

Welltech1 seeks to foster startups in the wellness technology sector that have a global market reach. The fund invests in and accelerates wellness startups, connecting them to global partners in the wellness market. It provides startups with know-how, a team of wellness experts, and business advisers.

Illustrative image of wellness and fitness (DGLimages; iStock by Getty Images)

The global wellness industry — defined as self-care as opposed to healthcare — is a $ 4.5 trillion a year industry, according to the Global Wellness Institute. The field deals with technologies that help promote healthy lifestyles through nutrition, fitness, workplace wellness, aging, mental health, wellness tourism, and even real estate projects that provide added value to tenants in terms of health and community.

The assumption underlying the sector is that wellness contributes to disease prevention and improves quality of life. Prominent categories in the wellness industry are stress-reducing technologies, sleep aids, remote care, mental well-being, proper nutrition and physical fitness.

The call for startups is being launched in partnership with the Global Wellness Institute’s Wellness Moonshot: A World Free of Preventable Disease, a global campaign that aims to eradicate preventable, chronic diseases.

“We felt it was a critical time to launch this initiative: The Coronavirus crisis has hurt overall seed-stage funding for start-ups…but has also intensely accelerated the importance of wellness and prevention—and how technology can deliver it,” said Amir Alroy, co-founder of Welltech1 in the statement.

The Global Wellness Institute is a nonprofit organization and a research and educational resource for the global wellness economy.

Israel has some 2,000 health-tech startups, with some 500 focused on wellness, according to data compiled by Start-Up Nation Central, a nonprofit that tracks Israel’s tech industry.

“Wellness, which we define as the personal, proactive and prevention-focused pursuit of healthy activities and lifestyles (self-care versus healthcare), has become radically more important to people during COVID-19,” said Global Wellness Institute’s Nancy Davis, chief creative officer and one of the startup evaluators.
“This fund will spur the new ideas we need now and in a post-virus world,” she said in the statement.

The initiative is looking for startups that offer innovation, the ability to scale, a growing market for their proposed solution, ready-for-market companies or those with initial revenues, and those that have “an aggressive” business plan.

After applications close, Welltech1 will conduct an initial screening, and then companies will have one-on-one Zoom meetings with industry leaders, followed by a Virtual Demo Day (a 3–4-week process after applications close).

Global wellness, financial and technology leaders will participate in the selection process, the statement said. These include representatives from the Global Wellness Institute; Harel Insurance Investments and Financial Services Ltd., an Israeli insurance and financial group; Smart Group, a Singapore-based business conglomerate; Facebook and Viola, according to the statement.

“These international partners joined us in the ‘call for start-ups’ because they understand, now more than ever, that innovation in wellness technology is not a trend, it’s a necessity,” said Galit Horovitz, Welltech1 co-founder. “More companies are approaching us to find and adapt technologies in the wellness sector because they understand these solutions will create new revenues and retain existing customers—and that the $4.5 trillion wellness industry is only poised for further growth post-virus.”

Welltech1 has already made investments in Israeli startups, including FitV, which provides users with feedback on their workouts; fitto, a maker of nutritional “Nespresso”-like capsule supplements; and MakeSense, which developed a smartphone app based on artificial intelligence technology to measure the nutritional value of meals.

Israel, for the first time, will hold the Global Wellness Summit in Tel Aviv in November 10–13, 2020. The conference will focus on wellness innovation, the statement said.

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Written by Aakash Malu


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