Boldly one might say: HealthTech is the new FinTech – at least concerning the interest of Austrian investors. The country’s startup ecosystem is currently experiencing a wave of new Digital Health and HealthTech initiatives. And with this wave, new VC funds are coming onto the scene that specialize in the industry.
Option for “small” investors
In contrast to the thematically related biotech and life science sectors, investments in the digital health and health tech sectors are affordable for “small” investors (i.e. basically every VC in Austria). With their often purely digital solutions, startups initially have a capital requirement comparable to that in typical startup industries such as FinTech. In contrast to the biotech sector, where, for instance, the development of new therapeutic approaches can cost two to three digit million euro amounts, digital health startups can often reach market maturity with six to seven digit seed investments.
Pioneer Hansi Hansmann supports new fund
One of those who started to invest in the industry at a very early stage is Austria’s best-known business angel Hansi Hansmann – also due to his personal biography. Having acquired shares of startups like mysugr, Diagnosia, Vamida and Kiweno and in the broader sense Runtastic (some of them already had their exit), he showed his affinity for the field again and again. Hansmann is now supporting a new digital health fund of the former Speedinvest HealthTech specialist Lucanus Polagnoli and the serial entrepreneur Michael Ströck. And other “celebrities” of the Austrian scene, such as the Runtastic founders, also support the new fund, about which no details are known so far.
Apex: 50 million euros for Digital Health and HealthTech
The known information on the planned new Apex Digital Health fund is somewhat more precise. The Viennese investment company Apex Ventures is thus setting up its second seed investment fund. While the first fund was generally aimed at the broader deeptech field and held 16 million euros, the current fundraising for the HealthTech fund is expected to generate a total of 50 million euros. The investment activities will focus on the DACH and CEE regions. Gordon Euller, a physician with entrepreneurial and business consulting experience, is the person in charge.
Uniqa: Investment Focus and Startup Program
For several months now, the investment arm of Austria’s second largest insurer, the Uniqa Group, has been placing a clear focus on the emerging digital health and health tech industry. The corporate VC fund Uniqa Ventures, also endowed with 50 million euros, has recently massively increased its investment activity in the industry. One of the “startup sources” is an initiative led by Uniqa that runs its own startup accelerator: the Health Hub Vienna.
Institutional players discover the topic
The programme launched in 2018 has recently been followed by other initiatives – by institutional players. In Vienna, for example, the City, the Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Austrian Industry and the Social Insurance umbrella organization announced their own programme. And in Linz, the incubator tech2b, which is operated by the province of Upper Austria, launched its own sector-specific incubator programme.
A basic problem is still unsolved
All these monetary and non-monetary initiatives certainly create unprecedented potential for Austria’s Digital Health and HealthTech industry. However, they don’t yet solve a fundamental problem of the domestic startup ecosystem: follow-up financing. Apex Digital Health and Uniqa Ventures have admittedly indicated that they will each reserve at least twice the amount of the seed financing rounds for subsequent investments. But it will need more to establish Austria as the global focal point of the industry. In terms of capital for the really large expansion, Austrian HealthTechs will therefore have to continue to watch out abroad.