Silicon Valley's medical technology start-ups might have their pick of local investors, but many are now looking further afield to China.
One of the most prolific recent funders on the block is Tencent, the Shenzhen-based internet giant that is best known for its social messaging apps.
In recent years, Tencent has funded a slew of U.S. biotechnology and digital health ventures. According to data from start-up research firms Crunchbase and Rock Health, they include:
- Grail, an ambitious venture to screen for cancer in the blood
- Scanadu, a futuristic "medical tricorder" device that shut down in 2016
- Karius, a genetics company that tests for infectious disease
- Clear Labs, a food testing company
- HomeHero, a company that brought technology to home care before it announced it was pivoting to a new (unannounced) business
- CliniCloud, a company building a connected home medical kit
- Circle Medical, a tech-friendly primary care provider.
The company also invests in more indirect ways.
Tencent led a $155 million round in health and artificial intelligence company iCarbonX, which subsequently secured a $100 million deal with the U.S.-based patient social networking company PatientsLikeMe. The goal for the partnership is to merge various forms of health data, like genomics and patient-reported symptoms, with AI to further our understanding of human disease.
At the time, the companies did not share whether they intended to expand PatientLikeMe's operations to China.
Tencent declined to comment on its investment strategy.