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Giving health innovations wings

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Health Tech World goes inside the mind of a health tech investor in an interview with Pierre Socha of Amadeus Capital Partners.  

Amadeus Capital Partners is a global ‘deep-tech’ investing firm based in Cambridge. Founded in 1997, the firm has since backed more than 180 companies and raised over US$1bn. It focuses on several industries, one of which is digital health and medical technology.

Partner Pierre Socha has been with the firm since 2012 and leads its early-stage health and biology investments, overseeing a portfolio including oxygen wound therapy company Inotec AMD and gene therapy manufacturer Ori Biotech.

He has over a decade of entrepreneurial experience, having built and managed the growth of several life science businesses across Asia and Europe, in fields such as population genomics and medical nutrition, and sits on the boards of six health tech firms.

With a passion for emerging technologies and how they can be used to improve patient outcomes, Pierre has seen firsthand how the health tech industry has risen to the challenges of an aging population, outdated infrastructure and, of course, a global pandemic.

HTW: How did Amadeus originally get involved in the health tech industry?

PS: To be candid, we fell into life sciences, or health tech, through the hardware layer of the industry. We started off by investing in a number of platform technologies, as computing was very much one of our thematics.

One of the start-ups was Solexa, based here in Cambridge, which essentially revolutionised the way DNA gets sequenced with a completely novel process.

That was one of our first – and very successful – entries into life science and we’ve since ventured pretty deep, making 10s of investments from financial science all the way down to care delivery systems.

Tell us more about some of the companies you’ve invested in.

Care delivery is one field where we’ve made quite a few successful investments. It tends to be seen as the more mundane side of healthcare but there are massive opportunities in getting the treatment and the diagnostic solution all the way to the patient in a cost-effective and user-friendly way.

One of the kings in that space is Lumeon, which offers a Care Pathway Management platform to empower health organisations to take control of their end-to-end care delivery model – it’s all over the US working with the biggest brands.

Doctify is another one on the side of assessing quality of care; it’s a review platform which has accumulated more reviews on doctors and clinics than Google, Trustpilot and Facebook combined.

Congenica is an example on the more patient-specific side. It provides rapid diagnosis for families and kids with rare disorders – their tagline is we’re taking the journey from five years to five days, because that’s how fast the genetic panels that they are offering for several conditions.

Then we’ve got firms more on the medtech side, like Organox, which is a specialist in organ transplantation. The idea is to have a fully automated system that is transportable and that preserves the organ for up to 24 hours – three times longer than transplanting organs on ice.

Ori Biotech is another on the delivery side, this time in cell and gene therapy, all about bringing it to the bedside, conceptually speaking, in the sense that each of us are different and therefore, no two patients will have the same therapy.

Has your approach to investment changed over the course of the pandemic?

Not particularly, because when it comes to healthcare, the cycles are so long, from clinical trials down to regulatory approval to reimbursement, you’re looking at blocks of five, if not, 10 years.

Having said that, the infrastructure has definitely changed – previously, telemedicine was a nice-to-have, now it’s a must-have.

If anything, Covid has triggered a wakeup call, so we’ve had several companies that have had a very positive impact over this period because of this sudden huge pool they had access to, of patients needing to be cared for somewhat remotely.

For example, one of our firms in the wound care space, Inotec, has developed a system that uses pure oxygen delivery to heal the worst chronic wounds, which are very often in elderly patients with vascular conditions.

Until recently, the application of the treatment was done by nurses in a hospital setting but obviously those patients are most at risk from Covid. So what the partners of Inotec did was to push for the company to add a communication layer, to share photos of the wounds and such, to avoid patients deteriorating but without the risk of coming to the clinic.

That’s an example of how the last 18 months have, in many ways, woken the system up to its inherent fragility – for too long it’s been a one-size-fits-all approach.

Have you supported any other Covid-related innovations?

Quibim is a Spanish firm that works on imaging to discover and validate biomarkers. During Covid, they essentially became the European reference AI platform for the analysis of chest x-rays and abdomen imaging.

They have since accumulated the largest database of Covid patients and their algorithm is now the reference algorithm across Europe for the detection of the virus, so that is one that’s really changing the way Covid is being fought today.

What will your future focus be?

Decentralisation of care, broadly speaking, is very high on the agenda.

Just looking at the macros, we’re living longer, which is a benefit and a curse, and so we need solutions that will enable all of us to live longer and healthier at home, or in specific care centres.

So I think going forward, we are likely to see a mix of care delivery systems with some of the more complex procedures still being delivered in hospital, but other services and support can definitely go back, in a productive way, into the community.

Because, frankly, it’s not rocket science, it’s just being smarter about the way we deliver care.

Sometimes you need a major pain point for people to wake up – and Covid was just that. It showed that where there is a will there’s a way, and sometimes countries can move and come together to change things.

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