“No clear line separates healing from upgrading. Medicine almost always begins by saving people from falling below the norm, but the same tools and know-how can then be used to surpass the norm.” ―Yuval Noah Harari, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow
The new wave in health tech isn't curing, is preventing and upgrading. Every day, health and tech professionals are asking themselves: how can technology make us better? How can bioscience make us live longer?
The last big health tech revolution was the birth control pill. It allowed women to get out of the house and into the workforce, generating an unprecedented economic revolution.
In 1970, medical degrees were over 90% male. Law degrees and MBAs were over 95% male. Dentistry degrees were 99% male. But at the beginning of the 1970s - equipped with the pill - women surged into all these courses.
At first, women made up a fifth of the class, then a quarter. By 1980 they often made up a third.
We can see that prevention and upgrading (not curing) took a primary role in health tech. This is especially true in Europe, where companies in the space have been raising money like crazy.
Sleep-tracking ring Oura surpassed $20 million in funding (we featured them in our Breakout List). Ava and Natural Cycles raised $30m each to change how women manage their fertility and menstrual cycles.
Ada Health nailed $40m to become the "Alexa of healthcare", while Thriva raised £1.5m to improve your health and catch any small issues before they become big issues.
We are even diving into performance now.
Zwift raised $120m to gamify indoor cycling, and is used by “more than one-third of the peloton in this year’s Tour de France”. Tonsser scored €5.5m to improve football skills. The Peloton craze in the US is insane, with 600,000 subscribers paying $39 a month to access live classes from their living room. eGym is using their $20m round to expand to the US.
What does this mean? I don't know yet.
Longevity seems to have become a priority for the well-off, and it's cascading down towards the rest of the population (like most revolutionary technologies). What I can say for sure is that long gone are the days where curing was the utmost priority.
But here's another question: can Europe leverage its unique position (no FDA, an influx of capital) to become the center of health tech and innovation?