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February 11, 2020

On the eve of this year’s OurCrowd Summit, a true celebration of the innovation and advancement taking place in Israel, this is a good time to reflect on where the Israeli healthtech/digital health/medtech space stands, how much progress has been made and what key dynamics Israeli companies should consider as they bring their amazing innovations to market.

First, let’s be clear that Israel has demonstrated an ability to improve the human condition. From deep tech devices that help the vision-impaired to read, to hospital beds that now serve as hi-tech Wi-Fi diagnostic “pods,” to wearables that can successfully address the suffering brought on by migraines, and AI-based systems that predict which people are most likely to be harboring disease, Israeli innovators continue to be at the cutting edge of life science advances. Each of these examples has been deployed within the US health care ecosystem.

And yet, there continues to be a great divide between invention and market success.  There are countless concepts that develop into working products but are never embraced by the market. Of course, there are numerous reasons for this; Sometimes ideas emerge before their time – when the decision-makers and gatekeepers don’t see the need.  Other times the need is great for evolution and disruption, but the health system is unable to integrate the technology into its patient-care process.  Other times, the cost of implementation itself may be too high a hurdle for users to leap. 

Sometimes, a product’s demise is avoidable, such as when a company has failed to understand how to navigate the US health ecosystem.  In these circumstances, success means much more than “now that the product is ready, let’s build a buzz!” Marketing communications can only do so much. 

Success requires a vision that will help the product’s eventual customer (physicians, patients or payers) embrace and embed the invention into their current systems and/or processes.  When that happens, invention evolves into innovation and progress.  Such a vision must correspond to a clear market need. Once that happens, the “headache” of system-wide change becomes worth it.

Communication, in this scenario, becomes a function within the innovative process. It requires knowledge of how inventions must be positioned to demonstrate value. Communicating that value will result in prospects, partners, and customers evolving their systems to make room for invention. 

In a nutshell, that is what is required for many of these incredible Israeli inventions to make the life-saving impact they are designed to have. Otherwise, such potentially important steps forward in the history of health care can become the proverbial trees in the woods that fall when no one is around.

In the past few years, FINN has recognized that supporting Israel’s life-science innovation community must include first-hand access to experts in US reimbursement systems, professionals with strong backgrounds in the health ecosystem, those who are at the forefront of the evolution of US and global clinical trials, and others who can lend their experience and wisdom to building the future of digital/health. These special participants in the Israeli innovation process enable our leaders to achieve business success that matches their technological breakthroughs insignificance.

As we come together at OurCrowd later this week, let’s raise a glass to those who help the health innovation succeed.

Individuals like King & Spalding’s David Farber, FINN’s Gil Bashe, and industry influencers such as Craig Lipset (who is speaking at a meetup in Israel this week) and John Nosta, have committed themselves to the Israeli market when they could easily have continued on their successful paths in the US alone.

Levi Shapiro, who has almost singlehandedly created and nurtured the mHealth community, and Oranit Ido, who has shepherded progress for women in digital health, are playing significant roles as well.

Of course, OurCrowd itself, as well as other VCs and incubators – including FINN client MEDX Xelerator, provide the scale, skills, and service to give many of these startups the chance (and resources) to make it.

And finally, on behalf of FINN, I am proud of the small role we play in communicating on behalf of these amazing companies, and I commit to continuing on this path going forward so that our small, but supremely talented and capable country of Israel can forge ahead in its mission of helping the world to achieve, grow and prosper, in health.

 

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