In a major show of confidence in Israel’s medical technology sector, Philips Healthcare is moving forward with the establishment of an Israeli incubator. Senior VP Arnaud Bernaert met about 30 Israeli medical start-ups, and is interested in 4-5 of them.
Gali Weinreb of Globes published an article on the incubator plans, following are excerpts:
“We at Philips need to be more serious about our activity in Israel,” said Philips Healthcare Senior VP business development, strategy and M&A Arnaud Bernaert. “There were ideas, which when we first encountered them seemed too advanced for acquisition, and which were ultimately sold to competitors.”
During his last visit to Israel, Bernaert met about 30 medical start-ups, and he expects to continue relations with at least 4-5 of them. “This is only the tip of the iceberg of what exists in Israel,” he said.
There is no one more suitable than Philips Healthcare to establish investment operations in Israeli start-ups. The company specializes in imaging and home healthcare, and it already has a large development center in Israel, with more than 600 employees in a range of fields. In the past few years, the company acquired CDP Medical, which develops digital picture archiving and communications systems (PACS), and closely cooperates with Corindus Vascular Robotics Inc., which has developed robotic-assisted stent placement without the need of a doctor in the room, enabling more precise placement of stents and enabling the doctor avoid exposure to radiation.
“Robotics complements well with imaging; precision imaging enables precision robotics,” says Bernaert.
Philips Healthcare is also interested in clinical informatics. “At Sheba Medical Center we met a company called Radiologics, which has developed software to independently analyze images and prioritizes them for the doctor. For example, in the emergency room, the software can warn when it sees a patient hemorrhaging and should be examined. The software is a constantly learning artificial intelligence system. It doesn’t make clinical decisions for the doctor, but improves his work priorities. Today, a doctor goes to a patient based on appearance, or by the queue. It is still a small company, so I don’t want to raise false hopes, but it’s fascinating.”
In addition to imaging, Philips Healthcare is seeking to develop in home healthcare. “I was very pleased by the meeting with Neuronix (which is developing a treatment for Alzhiemer’s with a combination of magnetic stimulation and computer games-based cognitive exercises – G.W.). I was surprised that it failed to raise capital on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange,” says Bernaert.
Bernaert is also interested in InSightec Image Guided Treatment Ltd., a subsidiary of Elbit Medical Technologies Ltd. The company uses focused ultrasound to ablate tissue, using MRI to image the procedure. Philips Healthcare’s praise of InSightec should not be taken for granted. It has a cooperation agreement with Philip’s rival GE Healthcare and Philips has its own MRI-guided ultrasound treatment device.
Bernaert also favorably mentions Elron Electronic Industries Ltd., portfolio company Kyma Medical Technologies Ltd., which has developed a miniature body penetrating microwave device for monitoring patients with chronic heart failure; Robert Taub and Dr. Adi Mashiach’s Nyxoah S.A., which has developed an implant for treating sleep apnea; and home treatment company Vaica Medical Ltd., which allows a pharmacist to package medications that notifies when a patient remembers or forgets to take them.
“I am surprised how Israeli companies are able to move forward with such limited resources,” says Bernaert. “We want to cooperate with Israeli companies at an earlier stage. I have a mandate from Philips Healthcare CEO to establish in Israel an incubator style infrastructure.”