Google Ventures, the search giant’s venture capital arm, has shifted its focus sharply toward healthcare and life-sciences startups.
The firm invested 36% in healthcare and life sciences this year, up from 9% each of the prior two years, reports Alistair Barr at the Wall Street Journal.
In 2012, health and life-sciences companies received the smallest share of the firm’s investment; this year, they received the largest.
Google Ventures has prioritised healthcare startups over other consumer-Internet companies, despite their booming valuations.
“If you are at the buffet and everyone is picking the entrée, try the dessert,” Bill Maris, head of Google Ventures, said to the Wall Street Journal.
Google itself has shown a marked interest in healthcare over the past few years.
The company hired genetics expert Andrew Conrad in early 2013 to run a Life Sciences team at Google X. In May, Conrad helped convince Google Ventures to invest more than $US100 million in Flatiron Health, a healthcare tech startup in NYC that “aggregates and transforms clinical and financial data” in real-time.
Flatiron Health is now Google Ventures’ second-biggest investment, after Uber.
Google isn’t the only one pursuing the health and wellness industry.
Just last week, Fred Wilson told a crowd at Le Web that if he could only invest in one thing over the next five years, it would be health and wellness.
He believes the industry is ripe for disruption due to a new wave of health data, mobile-based treatment options, and shifting healthcare costs around the world.
“It’s not an expenditure that you can think about making, it’s one that you have to make.” Wilson said.
He expects we will see the “Uber” or the “Airbnb” of the healthcare space emerge in 2015.