COVID-19’s outbreak has coincided with investments flooding into nanotechnology-based healthcare companies, according to Pitchbook’s latest data.
The investment monitoring platform reported that the sector benefited by £1.7bn in 2020 – £1.1bn more than the year before.
Median nanotech healthcare deal sizes have also doubled since 2019, from £1m to £2m in 2021, while the number of deals in 2020 was greater than ever, overtaking 100 deals in a single year for the first time.
Nanomedicine was a major beneficiary in 2020; investment into that sector alone has grown 250% in the last five years.
The World Nano Foundation and Nano Magazine now jointly predict the global nanotechnology market will reach $8bn by 2027, aligning with Pitchbook’s forecast that healthtech investment overall will top $10tn by 2022.
Investment is already aiding innovation as nanotech researchers and scientists work to improve biomedical devices such as prosthetics, provide new cancer treatments, and develop bone healing therapies, along with more innovations that could transform global healthcare.
Nanotech researchers have found nanobodies that block COVID-19 and, potentially, other coronaviruses from entering cells and developed mask designs at nanoscale making them both cheaper and more effective.
The fast global response to the pandemic was also enabled by nanotechnology, being pivotal in Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccine development and Innova Medical Group’s 99.99% accurate, 30-minute lateral flow COVID tests.
World Nano Foundation co-founder Paul Stannard said COVID-19 highlighted weaknesses in healthcare systems across Europe, proving that long-term, innovative solutions are needed to upgrade our technology and prevent future pandemics, with nanotechnology as a key player.
And while impressed by rising investments in and recognition for the nanotech sector, he warned against any let-up in this trend:
“Nanotechnology is not only crucial to our current healthcare systems, but researchers and scientists in this field are on the cusp of therapies, devices, and innovation that will revolutionise how we move forward.”
“To ensure pandemic preparedness, high-quality healthcare, and longevity, we must invest in nano healthtech and care innovations.”
His message was echoed by Kojo Annan (son of late and former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan) who is a general partner in the Luxembourg-based Vector Innovation Fund, which recently launched a sub-fund raising an initial $300m for pandemic protection and preparedness.
Annan said: “A virtuous circle is developing between investment and healthtech. Lately we have seen the development of multiple vaccines, acceleration of technologies linked to decoding the genome, the rise of nanomedicine and the use of artificial intelligence to monitor infectious diseases and new pathogens.
“More investment in sustainable healthtech funding can only continue this trend, bringing fairer and global distribution of healthcare, greater affordability, and preventive and early intervention healthcare, all ultimately improving the longevity of life.
“The pandemic has also greatly accelerated telemedicine investment and demonstrated that nanoscience and innovation could deliver more resilient societies and ecosystems for healthcare.”