Health care companies are increasingly looking to crowdfunding
, EquityNet CEO Judd Hollas said — especially those startups that are tackling changes to the industry required by federal health reform.
"We see a lot health services companies, particularly those that are working on digitizing care processes that until now have been paper-based," Hollas said. "The other reason health care apps are a good fit is the short time horizon - they often have revenue in a couple of years."
One of the local health care services companies
that is seeking funding on Fayetteville, Ark.-based EquityNet already has products on the market. Cambridge, Massachusetts-based LiveData Inc. is a 14-person company that serves both the health care and energy industries. Its lead health care product, called OR-Dashboard, is an "automated patient safety solution designed to support team collaboration, effective communication, and safety protocol compliance in the operating room." A second product, PeriOp Manager, provides automated patient tracking in the surgical suite. The company's EquityNet profile says the health care market for the products is $1.2 billion.
Life sciences companies are also trying their hand at crowdfunding, though Hollas said they typically have an uphill battle. Investors need to have much more expertise to understand both the value and the risk involved with sinking cash into drug and medical device developers. Even if these companies succeed, it could be seven or 10 years, at least, until there is any revenue.
One biotech company taking the plunge is Newton, Massachusetts-based Chelexa BioSciences. developing infection prevention therapies for the skin. The company, which has an ongoing campaign on EquityNet, is aiming at preventing hospital-acquired infections, which is a $30 billion health care problem. Other applications include chronic wounds and licensing the technology to produce animal health products. The company's EquityNet profile says the surgical site infection prevention market is $7 billion annually and the infection prevention in acute and chronic wounds market is $2 billion.
Hollas said that a major change in the crowdfunding rules, coming this summer as a new phase of the JOBS Act is implemented, could be even better news for health services and health IT startups with lower capital needs. The new rules will allow any investor, not just those with high incomes who are accredited, to invest. However, the limit for total investments to one company using these rules, will be $1 million.
Since drug and device companies typically need to raise much more than $1 million, Hollas predicts life sciences companies will choose to abide by the current rules, which require well-heeled accredited investors, but allow companies to raise up to $10 million.