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SoftBank decided to invest in the sector using its own assets through the replacement to the $100 billion Vision Fund as it is trying hard to draw the attention of potential investors.
Healthtech and AI startup Biofourmis said on Thursday it managed to reach a $100 million Series C funding round led by SoftBank Group Corp’s (TYO: 9984) Vision Fund 2, as the Japanese company widens its wagers on the health sector. During this growing coronavirus pandemic, the health sector became one of the most lucrative sectors to invest in.
Boston-based Biofourmis uses a transportable biosensor to remotely check on the patients for eventual discrepancies regarding their health. The startup is currently running a program in Singapore monitoring the condition of patients infected with the coronavirus.
Interest in Technology in Health Sector
The amount of pressure COVID-19 is putting on national healthcare systems is also boosting interest in technology that has the potential to assist the progress of the care automatically and remotely.
SoftBank decided to invest in the sector using its own assets through the replacement to the $100 billion Vision Fund as it is trying hard to draw the attention of potential investors. Also, it should be mentioned that the existing investors EDBI of Singapore, MassMutual Ventures, Openspace Ventures and Sequoia Capital also joined the Series C round, according to a statement. EDBI is an investment firm linked to Singapore’s government and looks for startups that can help advance the country’s industries, including healthcare. Biofourmis’ funding from EDBI is a strategic investment, and its technology is being used in Singapore as it copes with repeated outbreaks of COVID-19.
Since its Series B funding, Biofourmis has grown through a series of partnerships with seven pharmaceutical companies and 10 health systems, including Novartis, AstraZeneca, and Mayo Clinic. Biofourmis also did several important purchases, including wearable biosensor startup Biovotion and Gaido Health, a digital therapeutics company for cancer patients. The company also has its stakes in drug delivery firm Alto Pharmacy and blood testing firm Karius.
SoftBank Contacted Biofourmis First
The giant’s cash reserves are growing as it decided to cut its stakes in core parts of its portfolio. The Vision Fund has invested in many of the best-known startups around the world, with the portfolio hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak.
Chief executive officer Kuldeep Singh Rajput explained that the company plans to use the capital to develop digital solutions across cardiology, respiratory, oncology and pain management for patients in the U.S., China and Japan.
Rajput said he wasn’t planning to raise capital after closing a US$35 million Series B round in May 2019, but that SoftBank contacted him after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. The latter capital raise was led by Sequoia India and MassMutual, the venture capital arm of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company. To date, the company has raised a total of $145 million.
Greg Moon, Managing Partner, SoftBank Investment Advisers commented:
“We believe Biofourmis is a leader in using AI and machine learning-based solutions to advance digital therapeutics.”
Partnership with Novartis
In November, Biofourmis said it started a partnership with Novartis to use sensors and analytics to monitor patients in Southeast Asia, who are taking the heart failure drug Entresto.
Miguel Rivera, business model transformation head, Novartis Asia Cluster explained:
“Novartis is looking to transform medicine by looking into patient outcomes beyond our medicines. By providing services that go beyond the pill, we believe that patients could get access to a better quality treatment throughout personalized monitoring outside a hospital setting.”
Last July, SoftBank Vision Fund 2 launched with $108 billion to invest in AI-based technology. The first Vision Fund is coping with huge losses deriving mostly from its investments in WeWork and Uber, so the performance of Vision Fund 2’s focus on markets including healthtech (its other investments in the space include pharmaceutical delivery startup Alto and life sciences company Karius) is being closely watched.