JP Morgan: Qualcomm Ventures, Novartis co-fund joint investment company to tune of $100M

Just a week after tech company Qualcomm ($QCOM) inked a deal to help Big Pharma player Novartis ($NVS) manage the medical devices in its home-based clinical trials, the two companies announced an expanded alliance. At the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco, the companies revealed a plan for a joint investment company with $100 million to spend on startups that "go beyond the pill."

"This joint investment company with Novartis will allow us to combine their expertise in healthcare solutions with our knowledge of mobile technologies to accelerate innovation in the field of digital medicine," said Nagraj Kayshap, senior vice president of Qualcomm Ventures, in the release.

He added that the company has been actively investing in digital health since 2011, and has 18 healthcare startups in its portfolio. These include well-known companies like wearable device company Fitbit and heart monitoring company AliveCor; as well as China's Boohee, developer of a mobile weight-loss platform, Common Sensing, maker of an insulin pen cap that transmits information to mobile phone and glucose meters; and heath IT companies like goBalto.

Qualcomm's focus is on Big Data, connectivity and interoperability, as demonstrated by its venture portfolio and product offerings, such as the cloud-based, data-sharing Life2Net platform, a nonexclusive, interoperable system for delivering healthcare.

Last week, Qualcomm announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that Novartis will use Life2net in clinical trials to automate the collection of patient data from medical devices in patients' homes. The Big Pharma is already piloting the platform in an observational trial of chronic lung disease patients that does not involve any of its pharmaceutical products.

With today's announcement, it is clear that the companies' alliance is growing.

"By expanding Qualcomm's relationship with Novartis, we are making a significant stride towards achieving our goal of mobilizing healthcare and delivering the medical grade-enabling technology platforms to power scalable digital care models," said the general manager of subsidiary Qualcomm Life, Rick Valencia, in the release.

But as it moves aggressively into the med tech arena, Qualcomm is engaging other companies too, such as pharmacy chain Walgreens. Soon "Qualcomm-enabled" devices, including blood pressure cuffs and blood glucose meters that utilize Life2Net, will be available at Walgreens, allowing remote patient monitoring through the sharing of biometric and health status information.

- read the release
- here are Qualcomm Venture's healthcare portfolio companies

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