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LONGEVITY – A New Culture of Health


Elisabeth Petermann

Living Longer & Healthier Lives – The Quintessence of Longevity
The older we get, the more age-related diseases occur.[1] Longevity products, technologies and services aim to reduce and prevent these diseases from occurring in the first place – according to the motto “slow down aging”.
Why is the Longevity theme gaining momentum?
1) A new (preventive & self-determined) health culture prevails
2) Technological progress: new technologies allow health to be shaped preventively and individually.

A New Health Culture
Health is no longer seen as the absence of illness. The care of one’s own health is no longer passively outsourced to institutions (doctors, hospitals, therapy centres). Health becomes an individual task, in terms of personal commitment to one’s own health and individual preventive therapies. At the same time, health is seen more holistically. Today’s and tomorrow’s health is a precautionary and careful handling of one’s body and mind in order to counteract ageing prematurely.

The Zukunftsinstitut described this health change in its “Healthness” study as early as 2012 and anticipated developments in the healthcare revolution.[2] The new culture of health can be briefly outlined as follows:
– Live longer & healthier lives
– Prolong & improve lives
– From curing to preventing
– From an analogue/recreational/external to a digital/holistic/intrinsic medicine

Megatrend Longevity
Longevity’s products and services meet the spirit of the times with regard to the new health culture.[3] Longevity itself is thus becoming a megatrend and is making its way into many areas of life. In addition to medical applications, the Longevity concept can be found in almost all areas of life, such as nutrition, sports, work and work spaces, living spaces (Healthy Living), salesrooms and mobility.

Drivers of the Longevity Approach
In a nutshell, the following factors are driving the Longevity healthcare revolution:[4]

  1. a growing ageing population and thus an increase in chronic diseases: The age pyramid is shifting towards an ageing population.[5] At the same time, life expectancy is rising.  This increases health and care costs. The economic and health policy pressure for more research and development in this area is increasing.
  1. technological progress and medical breakthroughs:[6] in sectors such as Gero Science, Cell Therapies, GenomTech, BioTech, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotics, or SensorTech.
  1. and that with falling costs: For example, the price of human genome sequencing decreased from over USD 100M in 2001 to USD 1K in 2017.[7]


Effects of these Drivers[8]

  • Transformation of Medical Care: from reaction to prevention. Health becomes a management task.
  • Progress of P3 Medicine: Predictive, Preventive, Personalized
  • Growing (investment) interest in new medical fields, such as Precision Medicine & Data (e.g. early warning systems, DNA data), Regenerative & Reengineering Medicine, Digital Health, Genome Editing, Cyber Medicine (miniature implants), or Mental Health (Alzheimer’s, depression, etc.).

Challenges of a Longer and Healthier Population[9]
Social and moral challenges:

  • Overpopulation
  • Due to sensors, big data, etc., patients become transparent patients. Will health insurances be linked to our lifestyle in the future?
  • Adaptation of the healthcare system to higher life expectancy
  • Labour market: how does it have to change for an increasingly old and “fit” society?
  • Social inequality. Developing Countries: fair and affordable access to medical progress

New skills and resources are needed:

  • Changed tasks of doctors: e.g. from surgeon to Data-Scientist
  • Increased need for water, land, food and space for the growing population

Experts recommend the following key areas for action:

  • Development of a new health and social system
  • Expanding access to medicine for developing countries
  • Improvement of food management
  • Greater use of renewable energy
  • Urban Development: smart & age-free cities

Longevity Industry = Cross-industry. From Medicine to Food
What makes the longevity industry so interesting is that the longevity approach is not limited to medicine with areas such as gero-science or stem cell therapy, but is applied across industries. Obviously, medical-related industries are expanding their product range in the direction of longevity. For example, the pharmaceutical industry invests in CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) for Longevity, Health & Wellness – as it is forced to penetrate new product areas due to a lack of blockbuster drugs and high research costs – e.g. in dietary supplements and healthy foods.[10]

But the longevity industry is much more complex. Even “outside-businesses” such as food, fitness, living, travel, work, retail or communication develop products and services with a focus on longevity, well-being and health.[11] For instance, co-working spaces such as WeWork are increasingly focusing on wellness.[12] Companies such as Dropbox[13] and Slack[14] (e.g. a health care messenger for easy check-in and information in hospitals) or Uber (patient transport)[15] are developing products for the healthcare market (USD 3.5 trillion).[16]

The increased focus on health and longevity in the “FAMGAs” is particularly striking. Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Google and Amazon increase research, patents and product development in the health care and wellness sector.[17] Google is doing concrete research in the longevity area.[18] With Apple’s Health App and Apple Watch, Apple is also moving in the direction of Healthcare & Prevention. Why this Move? The tech environment is becoming more and more competitive. Healthcare can be a factor of differentiation.[19]

Longevity is not just a megatrend in medicine and pharmaceuticals. The demand for Longevity products and services is increasing due to the expanded concept of health (from reaction to prevention in the classical health sector to nutrition, exercise, living, working, etc.). Accordingly, the dynamics in the start-up scene and the associated investment landscape are increasing.

Longevity – Venture Landscape
Longevity is a multifaceted topic, but the investment and venture capital activity in this area is also very diverse. Here are a few facts about the longevity investment landscape:

1) Health – one of the most invested industries[20]
Health is No. 1 in Europe for Investment Amount. EUR 5.9 billion (by industry vertical) in 2018, closely followed by Fintech, Enterprise Software and Biotech. For comparison: in the USA, the investment amount in 2018 was USD 20.9 billion for Health.[21]

2) Longevity – Funding Activity & Deal Share
USD 900M (approx.) worldwide for Longevity.[22]
So far, Longevity and Anti-Aging research and the associated start-up scene have been considered quite sluggish. For about five years now, this ecosystem has been accelerating and so have investments in this sector (due to the social importance of longevity and research progress described above). In 2018, Longevity’s global funding activity was approximately USD 900M, largely due to two megadeals (Samumed USD 483M (08/2018); Celularity USD 210M Series A (02/2018)). The deal-by-stage view shows: more funding, more mega deals and a maturing of the longevity startup ecosystem.

3) Digression: Digital Health
Digital Health is one of Longevity’s core investment areas.
Definition Digital Health: “The convergence of digital technologies with health, healthcare, living, and society to enhance the efficiency of healthcare delivery and make medicines more personalized and precise.”[23]

Technology is increasingly becoming a health issue. Machine Learning, Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence (AI) or Internet of Things (IoT) have become an integral part of New Health Products and Services. Products and services that fall under Digital Health can be anything from health monitoring, new health insurances, online therapists, digital meditation, smart pills with sensors, monitoring sleep patterns or early warning and emergency systems.

2018 was the most-funded year ever in Digital Health (USD 14.6 billion worldwide). The market is considered to be particularly potent, with high growth potential. With regard to deal stages, the focus is on Seed and Series A. Digital Health Centres: China is one of the Digital Health Centres alongside London. As far as deals are concerned, Beijing London is even five times as outdated. The categories Personalized Health, Patient Empowerment and Wellness lead the field in the Digital Health largest deals.[24]   

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