In conjunction with the announcement of our third India healthcare early-stage funding investment in the past 100 days, we are announcing our intention to invest in another 3-4 healthcare startups in 2014. We are also pleased to announce that Dr. Michael J. Free OBE, Ph. D., a globally-recognized global health expert and 35-year technology leader at PATH, is joining Unitus Ventures (formerly Unitus Seed Fund) as Special Advisor for Healthcare.
|Unitus Seed invests in Smile Merchants||Investing in Private Health Care for All in India
Healthcare is a huge a growing sector in India
The nearly INR 60 lakh crore (USD 100 billion) healthcare sector in India is growing at an estimated 15% per year, with an estimated 80% of spending controlled by private individuals and primarily out of pocket, rather than government or insurance plans. Yet, the majority of this expenditure is occurring in the large metros and focused on the wealthiest 10-15% of the population. Healthcare is largely inaccessible to the 1 billion people living at the base of the economic pyramid in India due to affordability and proximity. Rural India pays even more for healthcare when you factor in the lost wages and travel costs to reach even a low-quality medical facility.
Doubling down on India healthcare seed investments
In the past few months, Unitus Ventures (formerly Unitus Seed Fund) has invested in:
- Welcare – affordable eye screening to prevent blindness
- Medypal – online healthcare marketplace
- Smile Merchants – affordable dental clinic chain outside big metros
Based on the pipeline of quality entrepreneurs we’re seeing, we have set a goal to invest in at least 3 additional healthcare startups this year. Areas we are most bullish about include:
- Distributed specialty clinics addressing pressing needs healthcare access of rural populations;
- Technology-enabled disruptions, bringing higher-quality care to under-served populations without requiring the presence of trained personnel;
- Mobile based healthcare delivery – high levels of internet and mobile penetration driving m-health initiatives;
- Ultra-low-cost devices that can assist consumers in wellness management and trained professionals in delivery of services.
Read more about our analysis of opportunities in healthcare >
Expert in global health technologies joins as special advisor
Dr. Michael J. Free OBE, Ph. D. is joining Unitus Ventures (formerly Unitus Seed Fund) as a Special Advisor for Healthcare to help with evaluating healthcare startup investments and to advise Unitus Ventures (formerly Unitus Seed Fund)’s healthcare portfolio companies. Dr. Free recently retired as Vice President and Senior Advisor for Technologies at PATH, a leading global healthcare organization driving transformative innovations to save lives. Dr. Free was instrumental in founding PATH 35 years ago and has been the global program leader for Technology Solutions where he led assessment of need, technology development and transfer, global introduction, development of international standards, and policy development. Read more about Dr. Michael Free >
“As I’ve been informally advising Unitus Ventures (formerly Unitus Seed Fund) for the past few months, I’ve become truly excited about how they are investing smartly in high potential healthcare startups seeking to deliver affordable services to the masses in India,” said Dr. Michael Free, Special Advisor for Healthcare, Unitus Ventures (formerly Unitus Seed Fund). “I’m looking forward to getting more deeply involved with helping them identify the best opportunities and then to work with their portfolio companies to bring about scaled healthcare impact to the masses in India, and hopefully globally as well.”
“We continue to be very impressed with the quality of healthcare-focused entrepreneurs we’re meeting in India who have the experience, passion, and innovations to deliver affordable healthcare to the masses,” said Dave Richards, Managing Partner, Unitus Ventures (formerly Unitus Seed Fund). “We’re excited to have Dr. Free formally joining as an advisor to strengthen our healthcare IQ and support for our high-growth potential portfolio companies.”