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COVID decade’ creates $10 trillion impact upon healthcare innovation investment

07 April 2021 The World Nano Foundation

Healthcare technology investment in 2020 soared 47% to a new high of $51 billion* and figures show it will rocket to even greater heights.

Overall healthcare investment is tipped to pass $10 trillion** by 2022 on a 10-year upward trajectory, already being called the ‘COVID decade’ for investment into disruptive innovation supporting pandemic protection and preparedness.

The spin-off from this research is also creating opportunities to democratise and decentralise healthcare through early detection diagnostics and early intervention therapies, and precision medicine, all set to transform global health and human longevity.

Image; Medical concept in the field of nanotechnology. A nanobot studies or kills a cancer cell. 3 d illustration.

A further sign of where new investment is going came with the recent launch of a $300 million Pandemic Protection Sub-fund by the Luxembourg-based Vector Innovation Fund (VIF) focusing on this ‘new age’ healthtech, and preparation for the next global healthcare challenge.

The new fund forms part of $17 billion (source: Pitchbook) in venture funding for healthcare innovation in recent years related to infectious diseases.

Scottish Health Innovations reports how accelerating investment has advanced the healthcare sector 10 years in just six months, through new data-driven technologies and digitisation, while vaccines have developed at unprecedented speed; the research and rollout for the Pfizer and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines were the fastest in history.

Testing has improved too; lateral flow tests (LFTs) from the world’s largest manufacturer, Innova Medical, are now 99.9% accurate yet take just 30 minutes to show results and help identify new variants and isolate asymptomatic carriers.

Using cutting edge nanotechnology these LFTs have been adopted by a world class UK testing and vaccine regime, now including a new national health agency UKHSA to protect against future health threats.

But far more is needed to avoid repetition of COVID-19’s devastation: 2.74m deaths to date, $5.6 trillion in global GDP lost, plus severe financial, health, and social impacts - mental health problems, unemployment, and poverty have all soared, while many people with life-threatening diseases have gone undiagnosed.

And the world is still alarmingly unprepared for another pandemic. COVID-19 was transmitted from animals, and scientists now know that two new ‘zoonotic’ viruses have done this every year for the last century, yet the Royal Society of Chemistry claims only 10 of 220 viruses known to infect humans have antiviral drugs available to combat them.

Against such odds, says the Executive Chair of Scottish Health Innovations, Graham Watson, healthcare innovation, rapid development, and early adoption must become routine in what he calls an “optimal investment ecosystem”.

This had been lacking according to leading medical journal, The Lancet, which reported that a pre-COVID assessment exposed a need for faster medical manufacturing and distribution during a possible pandemic, and commented: "A true, end-to-end R&D ecosystem must deliver needed products to people as rapidly as possible, and at scale in a globally fair and equitable fashion.”

Paul Sheedy, co-founder of the not-for-profit World Nano Foundation, argued strongly against any easing of investment into nanomedicines, and nano diagnostics towards better healthcare and pandemic protection:

"Nanomedicine investment alone grew 250% in the last five years, according to Pitchbook, while equity funding to digital health companies hit an all-time high last year, reaching $26.5 billion, but it has to be maintained if we are to avoid the human and economic devastation of another COVID.”

* - Sillicon Valley Bank Report.

** - Graham Watson - Scottish Health Solutions

Quick Polls


Covid-19 may accelerate certain industry trends. What are we likely to see?


Adoption of contactless technologies and digital experiences will likely be accelerating emerging technologies further
The consumer will expect safety and precautionary measures, driving the need for enhanced surveillance policies and technologies, which may pose potential privacy concerns
Rising activism among consumers and employees could drive an increased focus on corporate purpose
Value chain disruption is likely to lead to an increase in creative partnerships, which may in turn cause organisations to further invest in developing the mindset and agility to collaborate across sectors in the ecosystem
Cost management will be a critical priority to ensure business continuity based on cash flow requirements, to manage lower margins and revenues during a downturn
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