Industry research and big data analyst firm CB Insights has published its annual list of what it considers to be "the most promising" private digital health startups.
The 150-strong cohort hails from 18 different countries, and chosen from a pool of nearly 8,000 contenders. Their inclusion was judged by CB Insights based on a range of factors, such as market potential, investor profile, patent activity, competitive landscape and the novelty of their technology.
WHY IT MATTERS
Bragging rights aside, CB Insights' list and accompanying report serve as a snapshot of the digital health industry as defined by many of its front-runners.
Collectively, the 150 startups had raised more than $20 billion in total funding from over 900 unique investors. In addition, 12 unicorns are among the startups that made the cut – a decline from the 17 unicorns featured in last year's collection.
Geographic disparities in the list appear to be relatively unchanged in 2020. Startups based in the U.S. once again made up the lion's share (77%) of the list, and were most closely followed by six startups from China and five from the U.K.
When breaking down the startups into 12 different major categories, those focused on clinical intelligence and enablement were the most prominent (representing 17% of the cohort), closely followed by screening and diagnostics startups (16% of the cohort). Behind these were startups targeting virtual care delivery (11%) and disease management and therapeutics (10%).
But the rigid breakdown of primary focus areas doesn't necessarily tell the whole story. CB Insights made a point to call out the skyrocketing demand for telehealth across the industry by highlighting the fact that 41% of the companies on its list now offer some form of remote-healthcare services as part of their business.
Among the other healthcare subcategories on the rise within the top 150 list were drug R&D (26 companies), healthcare cost optimization (20 companies), mental and behavioral health (10 companies) and women's health (10 companies).
THE LARGER TREND
The private digital health sector has seen healthy growth with each passing year, and so far appears to be staying the course in 2020. New deals have hardly slowed down, despite some fears that COVID-19 could lead to skittish investors, with Rock Health noting that telehealth and behavioral health have both been key benefactors of the ongoing pandemic.
Meanwhile, the markets have also been quite generous to digital health companies that have gone public. Several of 2020's IPOs have opened strong and continued to grow, while the biggest names like Teladoc Health and Livongo have enjoyed record high stock prices (and now are looking to join forces).