Israel’s OrCam is one of 38 global healthcare unicorns, report says
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Israel’s OrCam is one of 38 global healthcare unicorns, report says

OrCam develops devices to assist the blind and visually impared; Jerusalem-based startup is valued at over $1 billion, CB Insights report says

OrCam's MyEye 2 can recognize text from any surface (Courtesy)
OrCam's MyEye 2 can recognize text from any surface (Courtesy)

Israel’s OrCam Technologies Ltd., which has developed devices to assist the blind and the visually impaired, is among the world’s 38 global healthcare unicorns —  companies that have a private market valuation of over $1 billion — according to a second quarter 2019 Global Healthcare published by CB Insights, a New York based data company.

These unicorns — most of which are located in the US, which has 21 unicorns, with nine in China, three in the UK, two in Germany, and one apiece in France, Switzerland and Israel — are valued in aggregate at $90.7 billion, the report said.

Jerusalem-based OrCam has developed devices that assist the blind and visually impaired with smart algorithms and a camera. The firm in 2018 said it raised $30.4 million, bringing its valuation to $1 billion.

The startup was founded in 2010 by Amnon Shashua and Ziv Aviram, who are also the founders of auto technology firm Mobileye, which was sold to Intel Corp. in 2017 for a whopping $15.3 billion.

The first half of 2019 has seen a record amount of money invested in healthcare companies globally and a record number of deals, the CB Insights healthcare report said. The amount invested in healthcare companies globally rose to $26.9 billion in the first half of the year, compared to $26.5 billion in the first half of last year. Deals increased to 2,258 from 2,223, and are projected to reach an all-time high in 2019, at 4,516 deals, compared to 4,395 deals last year.

In the US, Massachusetts-based companies raised 29 rounds in the second quarter of the year, taking over the number 2 spot from New York, with 24 deals, but still below California, which saw 85 digital health deals.

In the first quarter of the year, which was the only data available in the report, Israel saw four digital health deals, unchanged from the same quarter a year ago and below the eight deals it saw in the second quarter of 2018.

The US led the ranking, with 186 deals in the second quarter of this year, and 168 deals in the first quarter of 2019.

Healthcare companies with artificial intelligence tech raised $864 million in the second quarter, with more funds flowing toward medical image processing startups. Meanwhile, cannabis deals totaled $1.03 billion in 107 deals, in the second quarter of 2019, compared to $271 million in 73 deals in the same period a year earlier. Startups working with hemp, a strain of the weed and CBD, a chemical compound of the cannabis plant, are taking a larger portion of the cannabis deal flow, the report said.

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