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Life Sciences Investment in 2020 - What’s Next for Medical Devices?

14 December 2020

By Jay Freeman

Life Sciences Investment in 2020 - What’s Next for Medical Devices?

Investment in the life sciences is scaling fast, with significant funds being ploughed into research and development, translating into new products, drugs, and life sciences job opportunities

One subsector seeing substantial growth in recent years, is medical devices, with the European market alone worth more than €120 billion.

In the last part of our life sciences investment blog series, we’re delving deeper into the MedTech scene to find out why medical devices are attracting significant investment and whether the sector can sustain investor attention following COVID-19, Brexit and other recent global events.  

Medical device investments: behind the scenes

The medical device sector is regarded as the most promising area of MedTech, with the global market forecast to reach $432.6 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 4.1%.

What’s driving investor attention to the area?

Changing demographics

People are living longer, making over 65s the fastest-growing age group. And the longer people live, the more reliant they become on healthcare, especially for chronic lifestyle illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Medical devices are helping prevent, diagnose, monitor and treat such conditions while improving the quality of patient care. This year, we saw the acquisition of Nectaring Health, an AI-case device for eldery people, by Sweden-based Brighter AB

Healthcare settings

Healthcare treatments are moving away from the traditional doctor’s office and hospital settings to patient homes and outpatient clinics. This is creating a stronger demand for portable and affordable medical devices for a broader range of settings. For example, Outset Medical raised more than 300 million for a kidney dialysis machine that works at home. 

Patient interest

Patients are playing a greater role in their healthcare and are looking for medical devices that allow them more control and input, with US consumer use of wearables jumping from 9% in 2014 to 33% in 2018. Investment is following - this year we saw diabetes self-management app, One Drop, raised nearly $100 million, to expand the platform to areas including cardiology, oncology and women's health.

Time and money savings

Technology isn’t just fuelling medical device innovations; it’s also enabling hospitals to save time and money. For example, 3D printing has the potential to reduce the cost of a typical kidney transplant from $300,000 to less than $100,000 - which is hugely attractive to hospitals around the world. 

COVID-19

COVID-19 has increased investor interest in medical device companies that are working to combat the virus or deal with certain issues resulting from the virus. In May, Chinese life sciences instrument company, MGI Tech, secured a $1 billion Series B round to help its sequencing technology decode COVID-19’s genome and track virus mutations. Meanwhile, California-based start-up Eago closed a $71 million Series E round for its hearing aids that sit inside the ear canal, making them less visible on video calls. 

Together, these factors have made medical devices a popular investment opportunity, offering a more predictable and promising return while many of the world’s economies enter recession. In Q2 of this year alone, medical device start-ups raised $4.35 billion globally, through 371 venture financings, and last year, almost 14,000 MedTech patent applications were filed with the European Patent Office - far higher than pharma and biotech. 

Notable medical device investments in 2020

So, what were the most notable medical device investments of the year?

CVRx

Amid the pandemic, private medical device company, CVRx, raised $50 million in equity financing. The funds are supporting the commercialisation of the BAROSTIM NEO in the US - treating patients with chronic heart failure electrically by activating the baroreflex. 

Cue Health

San Diego-based Cue Health closed a Series C financing round, raising $100 million in capital. Proceeds from the round are helping complete development, validation and scaling of Cue Health Monitoring System and Test Cartridges manufacturing. This includes a fast and easy-to-use molecular test for COVID-19. 

RapidSOS

RapidSOS raised $21 million to help make use of the data generated by medical devices. The platform works alongside a network of wearable tech and connected home devices to provide first responders with accurate data about an individual’s situation, to deliver the right care in cases of emergency. 

Element Science

Element Science raised $145.6 million Series C funding in March 2020. The round will enable completion of clinical studies for the commercial launch of the Jewel Patch Wearable Cardioverter Defibrillator - a personal defibrillator that detects and treats life-threatening arrhythmias in those at risk of Sudden Cardiac Death.

Challenges ahead for medical devices

While 2020 has proved promising for the medical device sector, challenges remain in the year ahead, including:

Clinical evidence

Clinical evidence is crucial for demonstrating the value of any innovation, with Randomised Control Trials and real-world studies a precursor to regulatory approval. 

However, many medical device companies have extended their clinical trial timeframes, owing to hospital cutbacks on elective procedures. It’s estimated that some hospital departments, such as orthopaedic care, will need up to 16 months to work through the backlogs. 

Medical Device Regulations

The one year MDR delay was a relief for MedTech companies that were struggling to prepare for the regulations while dealing with the pandemic. However, the 2021 deadline still looms, and MDR has significant implications for the operations and future portfolios of medical device manufacturers. The cost of compliance will ultimately force investors to assess whether there is sufficient ROI for a product to be viable. 

The US election

The victory of Joe Biden will shape the future of the ACA, having a distinct impact on the US’s medical device sector. Medicare covers many treatments using medical devices, including transcatheter aortic valve replacements - 34,000 of which were carried out in 2017. 

While the Democratic party has said they will ultimately protect the ACA, they will make some alterations. If this reduces coverage, it could lead to fewer procedures being carried out, which could impact sales forecasts. 

Key takeaway

The medical device industry has had a successful year, even in the face of COVID. While challenges lie ahead, factors such as the ageing population, technical innovations and consumerism of the industry suggest the sector will continue growing and attracting investor attention. 

At Panda International, we’re vested in the latest trends and developments in the MedTech and medical device industry, just as we’re vested in the future of your career and company. 

If you’d like to discuss the future of medical devices and industry investments, get in touch with our medical device experts today. 

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