Launching a healthcare startup in Asia: Challenges and opportunities

By Meghana Keshavan – MedCityNews – April 14, 2016 

Dr. Akhil Saklecha of Artiman Ventures spoke on camera at this week’s INVESTconference in Chicago about the healthcare business opportunities in Asia – and some of the challenges that entrepreneurs and investors face. You can watch the video above.

Artiman Ventures has six funds – four early stage, two growth stage, and all of them are roughly $200 million. The firm’s about about halfway through investing out of its fourth fund, and growing its focus on funding companies in Asia. It has an office in Bangalore, India.

There’s an enormous patient population in Asia, particularly in India and China. However, access to healthcare is very limited, Saklecha said. For instance, the U.S. has about 20,000 oncologists, including medical, surgical, gynecological, pediatric, etc. despite a huge differential in population. That’s a sharp contrast with the number of oncologists in India — 1,500. As such, patient access is a tough challenge.

Because of this, therapeutics and medical devices present more challenges in terms of investment than digital health – since a stunning majority of individuals in Asia are now owners of mobile phones.

Asian investments today may be more salient in the digital health space, Saklecha argues, but the market could still be vast for medical devices, therapeutics and diagnostics.

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