One Year HHTFI - Looking ahead

Sep 01, 2021 | Katleen Vandersmissen

After launching HERAN Partners and setting up HERAN HealthTech Fund I in 2020, we now look back on a year full of challenges and successes. We want to seize the occasion to answer some questions about HERAN HealthTech Fund I and how we see the future of healthcare.

How does HERAN see the future of healthcare?

We expect the trend towards precision medicine and increased patient engagement to continue and even speed up. Time will tell how this evolution will crystallise. Additional biomarkers and dedicated therapies will result in more tailored patient and therapy stratification and more customised treatment plans vs. the one-size-fits-all blockbuster approach which is still common today.

Data has established an increasingly important position within healthcare as start-ups, policy makers, and strategic players understand its value:
Data not only enables more efficient development of new technologies, it also shortens time-to-market and allows to generate scientific insights on population level. This is key in drug developments and reduces human error amongst others.

In addition, prevention will take a more prominent role as it serves both patients & their families and society through cost savings to the healthcare system. This however brings along challenges in defining a suitable business model that maximises the economics, whilst addressing ethical challenges and the eternal payor-beneficiary dilemma in healthcare.


Which key challenges and opportunities has HERAN identified?

As regulatory restrictions and more stringent market access lead to fewer initiatives and additional scale-up challenges in Europe vs. the US, the quality criteria are countless and diverse. While we see a trend towards larger tickets in investment rounds, funds in Europe are historically smaller in size than their US peers. This renders it more challenging to support the companies to exit via M&A or IPO without a crossover US investment firm joining the syndicate.

The biggest challenge, but opportunity at the same time, is building a unicorn in healthcare outside of traditional biotech! There are numerous local and noteworthy examples of the latter including Argenx and Ablynx.

We think in global solutions, rather than in local problems. - Katleen Vandersmissen, Managing Partner

What value could partnerships bring to HERAN?

We aim to develop relationships with Big Pharma, MedTech or Tech strategic players as well as leading universities &technology/science clusters, as we feel that our interests should be aligned. Not only to generate exits, but also to share knowledge and become instrumental in changing the future of healthcare, starting with Europe.


How does HERAN feel about the European VC landscape?

There is a clear need for larger VC funds and crossover funds, which can support endeavours up to the point of IPO. In the US, we see that these types of funds are already much more established and common. As a result, there is a one-sided trend for US funds supporting European ventures.

Today, there is also lack of investment firms with a buy-and-build or build-it-yourself approach on a smaller scale as mainly large private equity players execute on such a strategy. We believe that this offers opportunities for HERAN in the future.



1.     Investment Strategy: July 8th

2.     People & Network: August 4th

3.     Looking ahead: September 1st

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