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GMA Network will help startups expand to the US, and help Wavemaker's companies expand to SEA
As devastating and destructive as COVID-19 was, there was also a silver lining: it led to massive disruption and opportunity, particularly in the healthcare space. Southeast Asia, and the Philippines specifically, are now seeing more integration of technology in the healthcare sector; the Philippines' healthcare budget increased 12% from 2019 to 2020, reaching PhP 895.88 billion, or $16.36 billion.
With that kind of growth, it's inevitable that investors in the US will start to take notice, including Wavemaker 360, a seed-stage venture fund based in the United States focused on early-stage healthcare companies.
While the firm already has visibility into the Southeast Asian market thanks to its sister fund in the region, Wavemaker SEA, which is based in Singapore, it wants to to expand into the Philippines, and so it announced a new partnership with GMA Ventures, the investment arm of GMA Network, a Philippines-based media network.
"Our collaboration with GMA gives us very specific insights into what is happening in the Philippines. This country spends more than 4% of its GDP on healthcare, and while that is not at the level of the US, it means that they are actively looking for innovation in areas such improving patient outcomes, reducing costs and improving the clinician experience," Jay Goss, General Partner at Wavemaker 360, told VatorNews.
Founded in 2018, Wavemaker 360 has a particular focus on digital health, medical device, telehealth, pharma-tech, science and marketplaces. Some of the Pasadena-based firm's investments include Camino Robotics, Materna Medical, Luna, Medpilot, Matterworks, and Ciitizen.
GMA Network, also known as the Kapuso Network, has TV, radio, online platforms and other media-related ventures, including program syndication, film production, music publishing and distribution, set design, audio-visual production, and new media. The company operates a network of 95 TV stations and 21 radio stations throughout the country.
In 2022, GMA Network’s combined people net reach, including GTV and its other digital channels, was 78 million viewers.
"They are a very large and, frankly, innovative media company, so we can use their local knowledge and footprint to more efficiently make healthcare innovation happen in both directions," Goss said.
The partnership will not only go one way: the idea is to not only have GMA Venture discover healthcare entrepreneurs in the Philippines so they can expand to the United States, but also to help US-based early-stage healthcare companies expand into Southeast Asia.
The company notes that has already funded companies that are planning expansion to the region, and this partnership with GMA puts the Philippines on that roadmap.
"Like any region inside or outside the US, our one-two punch is to discover great early stage healthcare companies to, one, fund them and, two, help them commercialize inside the US leveraging the strength of our robust LP network of healthcare organizations and executives, which is over 200 large," said Goss.
"What exciting innovation is happening in the Philippines that we can bring to the US, and vice versa, meaning what is happening here that could benefit the Philippines? Remember, while countries vary in their national approach to healthcare, on some level healthcare is healthcare; business models change but quite often the core of what these exciting start-ups are working on is universal."
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