Swiss giant Roche seeks to invest in early-stage Israeli health-tech startups

Switzerland’s Roche, one of the world’s largest healthcare companies, is seeking to tap into cutting edge Israeli technologies by setting up an early stage investment program, together with Israeli health tech and life sciences venture capital firm aMoon.

The “first of its kind” jointly set up early stage health tech investment program, aims to speed up the development of new diagnostic technologies from the Israeli health tech ecosystem “that address global healthcare challenges,” the two firms said in a statement on Monday.

The collaboration, called “StarFinder Lab,” will provide funding, mentoring and strategic support to nine startups, newly-formed or existing ventures, chosen by the program.

The partnership will focus on “identifying and cultivating disruptive AI-driven data as well as digital healthcare solutions” from the “agile and highly skilled” Israeli health tech ecosystem, the statement said.

Dr. Yair Schindel, co-founder and managing partner of VC fund aMoon. (Tomer Jacobson)

The teams that take part in the StarFinder Lab program will be able to brainstorm with industry leaders, as well as get funding, access to key-markets, data and physical office space within aMoon headquarters in Ra’anana.

Besides funding and mentoring, the program will also provide entrepreneurs access to global expertise from Roche and aMoon to help them build products and tailor them to the market needs.

Applications to be part of the StarFinder Lab, an accellerator program, will open in October 2020, the statement said.

“Healthtech and AI are transforming the healthcare industry as we know it, and we see great value in working with Israeli healthcare innovators, as they build their companies,” said Michele Pedrocchi, head of Global Strategy and Business Development at Roche Diagnostics. “This program will allow us to build exceptional relationships with Israel’s brightest entrepreneurs, as well as take an active and strategic role in building disruptive start-ups together with Israel’s leading life sciences and health tech fund.”

aMoon’s experience and know-how in health tech investment complements Roche’s market access and expertise to design solutions that are tailored to real market needs, Pedrocchi added.

Roche globally had investments in research and development of some $12.6 billion in 2019.

“Roche is on a mission to transform healthcare delivery through digital solutions and this opens up many opportunities for brilliant entrepreneurs here in Israel,” said Avi Danziger, CEO of Roche Israel.

aMoon in July said it raised an additional $90 million to its aMoon II fund, bringing it to a total of $750 million. The fund is backed by Israeli billionaire Marius Nacht.

“Israel has robust entrepreneurial resources that can provide solutions to major challenges faced by the healthcare industry,” said Dr. Yair Schindel, co-founder and managing partner at aMoon. “This partnership with Roche, a global leader in pharmaceuticals, diagnostics and digital health, has the potential to be a real game-changer for early-stage companies from across the healthcare industry, allowing them to move faster and with greater success.”

In 2019, KAHR Medical, an Israeli biopharmaceutical company, said it will collaborate with Roche to hold human clinical trials in the US for its immunotherapy drug.

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Written by Aakash Malu


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