At $14.7B, Digital Health Funding is Setting Records in 2021 (The MedTech Download)

Kelly Springs-Kelley
July 15, 2021

Key Takeaways

  • In the first 6 months of 2021, digital health funding exceeded last year’s record setting year.
  • According to a recent study by Greenlight Guru, medical device teams may not be managing risk in a way that satisfies everyone in the organization.
  • In an uncommon double SPAC merger, Hyperfine picks up Liminal Science as it goes public.

Digital Health Funding in 2021 Smashes Last Year’s Record with $14.7B

The healthcare industry disruption caused by COVID-19 was unlike anything we’ve seen in the sector in decades. Historically the industry is most often shaken when a new technology changes delivery or administration, such as the implementation of electronic medical records or the adoption of AI in healthcare. But an external event that forces us to revolutionize how nearly everything is executed has meant an urgent, nearly-overnight transformation.

Digital health was on the top of the list when it came to quick solutions for remote healthcare delivery. Already, the digital landscape had begun to make a significant impact on the industry. For example, 10 years ago, in 2011, investment in digital health totaled $1.1B. Fast-forward to 2019, and there was clear acceleration, with investment landing at $7.7B. Next, enter the pandemic. Last year, 2020 blew past previous records, doubling 2019’s investment totals at $14.6B. And in 2021, the trend continues. Already, in the first 6 months of this year, investment dollars have reached $14.7B, exceeding that of 2020. And there is little evidence of change on the horizon.

The Struggle Is Real: Managing Medical Device Risk

Managing risk in medical devices is often seen as par for the course. In the case of novel technologies, ensuring efficacy in conjunction with patient safety is foundational. After all, often products need FDA approval to reach patients and providers. To get that yes – and to keep products in the market even after launch – MedTech engineers and development teams put risk management at the top of their priority list. Right?

According to a recent survey by Greenlight Guru, it seems that for some, the answer is “sometimes.” According to an article, “the recently published Greenlight Guru 2021 Risk Management Benchmark Study uncovered some rather troubling findings about medical device risk management.” It goes on to say of the report that “while most (53%) respondents view medical device risk management as a strategic asset, 33% said that risk management adds value, but is not a strategic asset. Most troubling, however, is that 12% of respondents said risk management is viewed as a “checkbox” activity at their organization, meeting only the minimum requirements.” Read the full article here.

In Rare Double-SPAC Deal, Hyperfine Picks Up Brain-Sensing Tech Company as it Goes Public

While venture and private capital are still the most common ways for medical device startups to raise funds, the MedTech SPAC craze on Wall Street has continued well into 2021. SPACs, or special purpose acquisition companies, are also referred to as “shell companies.” They go public without an actual product, but instead the intention to strategically acquire a product. Generally, a SPAC will hit the market, begin raising funds, and then later merge with a single company.

But, as has been a criticism of SPACs, there are few rules dictating how these companies are run. Recently it was reported that that portable brain scanner company Hyperfine, which was picked up by a special purpose acquisition company backed by HealthCor Management and Catalio Capital Management, decided to go the SPAC route again through the purchase of Liminal Science. This uncommon “double SPAC” deal is backed by numerous investment groups eager to cash in on these MRI market disruptors.

Cell Cloaking to Reduce Foreign Body Response to Medical Implants


In the search for cures for many conditions, researchers and medical device entrepreneurs have developed a variety of “functional cures” along the way. While many of these involve pharmaceutical therapy, as in the case of AIDS, many take the shape of medical devices and medical implants. Some of the most common are implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs), artificial hips, and cardiac pacemakers.

But implanting a device into the human body does not come without its challenges, many due to the foreign body response. However, researchers in South Korea have developed a way to coat implantable materials with extracellular matrix components and cells. The coating may lead to “implantable devices that suffer fewer adverse events, such as fibrosis, inflammation, and clotting, because of the foreign body response.”

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