Analytics and Big Data investments spur bumper year for digital health funding

The likelihood of 2014 being another high-water mark for digital health was clear from the first few months of the year. When digital health seed funder Rock Health tallied up the total last week, it found digital health companies raised $4.1 billion in 2014, almost as much as they pulled in across the three prior years combined.

Rock Health includes a broad range of fields in its calculations--telemedicine and digital therapies were two of the fastest growing niches--but the result is still a clear demonstration of the level of investor interest in biotech IT. Having come in second in two of the three previous years, the Big Data and analytics category took the top spot on Rock Health's list of niches to raise the most money in 2014. Healthcare consumer engagement and digital medical devices rounded out the top three.

Big Data and analytics companies raised $393 million as more investors backed more startups with more money. Deal volume has tripled over the past three years, and more than 300 investors backed a digital health venture in 2014. More than 280 of the investors in 2014 struck just one deal, but at the other end a core of committed digital health backers is emerging.

Last year 35 firms inked three or more deals. Among the 35 companies are digital health stalwarts such as Merck ($MRK), Qualcomm Ventures, KPCB and Khosla Ventures. This clutch of four companies struck almost 30 deals between them, bringing their collective total over the past four years years up to 73. The companies were joined near the top of the list of most active investors by Andreessen Horowitz, which quadrupled its total digital health deal count by making 6 investments in 2014. 

- here's the report

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