San Diego Business Journal

$100M Fund Targets Up-and-Coming Mobile Health Firms

Friday, October 21, 2011

The founders of the West Wireless Health Institute, a San Diego-based medical research organization, have stepped in to fill a critical venture funding gap for emerging mobile health firms.

A new $100 million investment fund started by Gary and Mary West will provide capital to companies with promising technologies and services that could substantially lower the cost of health care.

“Since Mary and I established the West Wireless Health Institute in 2009, we have seen literally hundreds of companies focused on innovative and low-cost health care solutions that cannot find funding,” Gary West said in an Oct. 19 statement.

He called the West Health Investment Fund LLC “a logical next step for us, as we work to create a vibrant ecosystem around health care innovation to lower health care costs.”

Without financial support to back up innovation, the valuable research that’s conducted at the West Wireless Institute and at other agencies will have a tougher path toward commercialization, West said.

The fund’s initial portfolio includes six companies, two of which are from San Diego: Biological Dynamics Inc., which makes diagnostics technology that helps doctors detect cancer from a simple blood draw; and Sotera Wireless Inc., which develops products that remotely monitor patients’ vital signs.

Don Casey, CEO of the West Wireless Health Institute, will manage the fund. He’ll mainly be targeting early-stage companies that have not yet released a product or are in early stages of commercialization. Casey said that financial returns from the investments will go toward other philanthropic endeavors to discover and develop tools to deliver health care more efficiently.

— Kelly Quigley