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Venture capital firm to bring healthcare technology to the UAE

Biosis Ventures co-founder Kerim Muvdi goes to US universities such as Harvard in search of medtech investment opportunities to bring back to the Middle East
  • Biosis Ventures branching into biotech, medtech and healthtech 
  • It taps into US startups and brings expertise back to the Middle East 
  • Aims to improve patient care as well as get return on investment 

An Abu Dhabi-based venture capital firm has obtained approval from regulators to invite investors into healthcare startups in the US and elsewhere with a view to bringing specialist technology to the Middle East. 

Biosis Ventures said this week it had in principle received permission from the Abu Dhabi Global Market to offer venture capital products to local investors. 

Biosis was founded earlier this year by Kerim Muvdi, a 34-year old US citizen born in Columbia of Palestinian heritage, and two Emiratis, Abdulla Al Neyadi and Abdulla Al Rashdi.

The three, who have been in partnership for over six years, have hitherto invested in food manufacturing and in retail and ecommerce but are now branching out into biotech, medtech and healthtech.   

Biotech is concerned mainly with drugs, while healthtech focuses on improving personal and preventative care for consumers.

Medtech, meanwhile, involves technologies used to treat existing medical conditions and enhance diagnostics within a hospital. 

The idea is to tap into the expertise and opportunities offered by spin-offs – or accelerator programmes, as they are known – from the likes of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard Innovation Labs, and Cornell Tech and bring the expertise back to the Middle East.  

Within the three categories of healthtech, biotech and medtech, Biosis has created five “value pools”: screening and diagnosis, wellness and disease prevention, research and development, finance, and care delivery. 

“It’s a really exciting space to be in, first and foremost because we are directly impacting the lives and wellbeing of people,” Muvdi told AGBI.

“We want to look not only at return on investment, but also how the technologies we invest in can change healthcare in the region, improving patient care while reducing cost.

“We are going to be investing predominantly in the Mena region. If the companies [we invest in] are outside Mena, we need to know that they can bring those technologies here, or set up research and development either in Abu Dhabi or elsewhere in the GCC.”  

Biosis Ventures aims to invest in health technologies or set up research and development facilities in the UAE. Picture: Creative Commons

Muvdi and his partners have invested in three ventures so far including a Boston-based outfit specialising in the early identification of ovarian cancer, which affects one in 78 women worldwide and where the survival rate is only one-third.

The three investments are being rolled into the Biosis offering. To make the highly technical investment decisions, Biosis has formed a 10-strong committee of experts to conduct due diligence and advise. 

Biosis intends to invest in all early stages from so-called Pre-Seed to Series A, which includes companies of up to $8-15 million in turnover that have demonstrated a serious track record in the technology. 

The impact of the coronavirus epidemic has concentrated minds, Muvdi said, arguing that biotech and medical care generally is recession-proof. The compounded annual growth rate in healthcare spending in the Middle East is 12 to 13 per cent.

“We saw throughout the pandemic that many countries were lacking infrastructure,” Muvdi said. “The healthcare landscape is constantly developing.” 

There are other venture capital funds in the region, but the Biosis venture is thought to be the only one focused specifically on healthcare and biotech.

Muvdi said that Biosis is already in discussions with investors in Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.