We spoke with Harry Briggs, Managing Partner at OMERS Ventures. Prior to OMERS Ventures, Harry was at Balderton Capital, where he sourced investments such as The Hut Group, Revolut, GoCardless, and Touch Surgery. He is a founding board advisor to Diversity VC.
Before moving into venture, Harry co-founded Firefly Tonics, a health drinks company, which he helped build into a luxury brand with customers in 35 countries, before selling to Private Equity firm Langholm Capital.
Founded in 1962, OMERS is one of Canada’s largest defined benefit pension plans, with CAD$105 billion in net assets as of December 31st 2020.
OMERS Ventures currently manages CAD$2 billion and has made more than 50 investments in disruptive technology companies across North America and Europe, including Hootsuite, Crunchbase, DuckDuckGo and Wefox.
1. What does the future of healthcare look like?
“Technology will play a number of important roles in healthcare in future, from health monitoring, remote diagnosis, digital therapeutics and personalised medicine.
As innovation in health tech progresses, consumers will play a greater role in monitoring their own health, enabling us to test ourselves more regularly, spot potential issues earlier and intervene proactively, rather than reactively. Technology will allow us the option to manage more of our treatments at home. I also believe healthcare will enter a new phase of synchronicity, meaning we will be able to link our relevant health data with different practitioners and build up a more complete picture of our health over time, resulting in more precise and personalised treatments based on data.”
2. What do you believe are the enduring shifts we will see in health tech as a result of the pandemic?
“The pandemic has shown that our health system lacks resilience. A prime example, of course, is that we had to place the country into lockdown to avoid hospitals reaching capacity. Technology could be the answer to dramatically cutting the cost of healthcare while simultaneously improving outcomes.
We have also learnt that testing needs to be more widely distributed and user-friendly. Tech will help to revolutionise this space with the rise of consumer diagnostics technologies, which will become commonplace in the home and workplace, not dissimilar to how we use first aid kits now.
Technology will also play a crucial role in improving the speed at which we address healthcare challenges. Using technology, we can move faster – faster drug and vaccine development, faster trials, faster regulatory approvals and speedier production lines.”
3. From an investor’s perspective, what are the most exciting emerging areas in health tech?
“Currently, there is a huge focus on mental health, particularly as we have witnessed the terrible effects that the pandemic has had on the population in this respect. We’ve seen very exciting developments in this space, with companies like HelloSelf, which provides individuals and organisations with personalised digital therapy services.
Additionally, developments in diagnostics and screening tools are paving the way for innovation in healthcare. Companies such as Vara, which utilises AI and machine learning to revolutionise the breast cancer screening workflow, are changing the way we view health tech, pushing for the utilisation of life-changing technologies to become part of our traditional healthcare systems.”
*Disclosure – HelloSelf and Vara are portfolio companies