Insurance giant UnitedHealth Group’s health services business Optum has taken the wraps off Optum Ventures, which will manage a $250 million fund to back healthcare startups, according to a company news release.
In response to emailed questions, a spokesman said the corporate venture capital fund would invest at the Series A and B stage, citing comments made by Optum CEO Larry Renfro at UnitedHealth’s annual investor conference where it launched Optum Ventures.
The fund will focus on digital health startups that use data and insights to help improve consumers’ access to healthcare services and how care is delivered and paid for, the release noted. It will also target businesses that make the healthcare system more reliable and easier to navigate.
A.G. Breitenstein and Virginia McFerran are copartners for the firm. Breitenstein previously was cofounder and Chief Product Officer at Humedica, a big data analytics business acquired by Optum. McFerran previous worked as CEO of Optum Analytics.
So far, it’s unclear how many investments it will make or how large these investments will be. But the first four companies it has backed offer some insights.
Machine learning is seen as a useful asset among health tech companies and Optum Ventures seems to agree.
Mindstrong Health, cofounded by Tom Insel, the former head of the National Institutes of Mental Health, uses machine learning to detect patterns and gather insights into how people interact with their smartphones. This could prove useful for diagnosing and treating neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Buoy Health works on a couple of different fronts. It consumes clinical papers to do a better job of ER triage. It has a symptom checker with eight triage level recommendations from staying at home to calling an ambulance. Some other recommendations include seeking primary care, urgent care, a nurse triage line or telemedicine. It sends some people with less serious conditions to urgent care centers and flags patients who would be better served by ER. In August the company closed a $6.7 million Series A round led by F-Prime Capital Partners, formerly Fidelity Biosciences, with participation from FundRx.
Analytics tools figure prominently in a couple of investment targets.
Known as Pervasive Health in another life, Apervita created a healthcare analytics marketplace so that health systems could use it to assess and access different analytics tools for their own hospitals. It charges a subscription fee to access the marketplace.
SHYFT Analytics developed a set of analytics tools for the life sciences sector. The goal is to help drug developers do a better job of ensuring that new drugs meet market expectations and identifying which ones are not as early as possible.
Photo: Topp_Yimgrimm, Getty Images
BioEnterprise’s Medical Capital Innovation Competition gives AR/VR/XR startups a shot at $100,000 and co-development opportunities.
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