A lot is currently written about the initiatives launched by Alphabet (Google) in the life sciences field.
I had the wonderful opportunity to have a look at the report written by the internet analyst, John Blackledge, from Cowen and I must say that he’s very smart at showing the huge potential of the life sciences at the core of Alphabet (Google).
This report is amazing as it allows you to have a better understanding of what’s happening now inside Alphabet (Google). I summarized the key points/quotes from the report below and I added other articles at the end of this blog post. Moreover, I will update it frequently as the news come in. This is a fascinating topic, I really hope Alphabet (Google) would be able to replicate the same success it has built with its search engine.
Key quotes & comments from the report:
- Expansion into health care and related segments allows Google to leverage its core competencies in Internet communications technology, data structuring and analysis, and fundamental process reinvention.
- Specific areas of focus in healthcare include:
(1) the sequencing the human genome and the rise of precision medicine: despite the monumental significance of mapping the human genome and the implications for drug discovery, this was but one step in a long journey that continues to this day. Moreover, genes are but one factor in disease, and little is known about what role environment and lifestyle play.
(2) the digitization of health data is exploding, with a virtually endless list of sources that can offer insight into clinical data, drug studies and more. As more data is digitized, there will be a profound impact on how patient care is administered, how therapies are researched, and how drugs are tested. EHRs (Electronic Health Records) are crucial but implementation is very challenging. Harmonization and data aggregation need to find their way. Wearables are another interesting topic in the digitization of health data. Social media and discussion boards as well as patients website are essential parts of the system that must be closely monitored as more and more patients use those communication channels in order to provide feedback and comments on treatments and daily struggles with healthcare providers.
(3) the shift to value-based care, where payments are based on the value of care, is driving a change in how services are delivered and how much consumers engage in the process. From a provider perspective, doctors are incentivized to manage patients to the best possible health outcome at the lowest cost. From a patient perspective,
consumers are being empowered to take a more active role in their own health care.
These health care trends are being accommodated by technology advances in areas such as social, mobile, analytics and cloud computing, all areas of Google expertise.
- Alphabet invests in health in five different ways:
(1) Google Life Sciences originated in Google[x], a research lab within Google that was funded by the company’s board of directors in January 2010 to pursue “moonshots”—audacious new projects that have a low probability of succeeding, but could be truly revolutionary if they do. The company views moonshots as critical in driving the true innovation required to affect revolutionary change and avoid the “incrementalism” or evolutionary change that tends to lead to corporate irrelevance over time. The Life Sciences team is responsible for such innovations as glucose monitoring smart contact lenses. With an expanding list of intellectual property, Life Sciences has begun to accelerate its collaborative efforts with third parties. The company is aggressively partnering with leading players in the health care space on a growing number of programs.
(2) Calico’s mission is to harness advanced technologies to increase understanding of the biology that controls lifespan. Calico was originally conceived by Google Ventures President and General Partner, Bill Maris, who observed that most companies seek to find treatments for disease and associated symptoms, but that none address the root cause of disease and death. He wondered if studying the impact of aging on genetic material could lead to the discovery of drugs that could address many age-related diseases and significantly extend the human life span.
(3) Google Ventures has provided seed, venture and growth stage funding to a host of companies in diverse fields, but its stated focus is machine learning and life science investing.
(4) Google Capital was formed to invest in later-stage technology companies with a focus on emerging technology leaders and potential disruptors. Unlike the earlier stage companies in Google’s other investment vehicles, the later stage companies in Google Capital tend to be fairly common household names. Although the stated focus of Google Capital is on technology companies, the collision of technology and health care is blurring the lines of what a traditional “technology” company looks like.
(5) Google Core: Over time, Google has invested in numerous health-related initiatives within its main corporate division. These have tended to be very closely linked to the company’s core businesses, such as Search. Earlier this year, the company announced that it will add health information that has been fact-checked by physicians directly to search results. The company is also talking to the FDA about using search query data to identify adverse drug reactions.
- Google’s Health-Related Focus Areas: regardless of where they are housed within Google’s corporate structure, most of Google’s health-related endeavors share common characteristics.
(2) Genetics and Chronic Care
(4) Diabetes/Digital Health
(5) Medical Devices
(6) Telehealth/Digital Health
- Google’s health endeavors fit with the company’s goals of “making the world’s information useful” and helping millions of people. Indeed, Google believes that many of the same principles, techniques and problem solving capabilities employed by its software developers can be applied to the massive inefficiencies that exist in health care to create transformational solutions and medical breakthroughs that help people live longer, healthier lives. Health care ambitions can be summarized as:
(1) Analyze: Analytics to inform decision-making and provide business insight
(2) Attract: Attract health care constituents to platforms and solutions that drive engagement
(3) Aggregate: Aggregate data from disparate sources onto the Internet or GCP
Alphabet to help researchers predict disease – Financial Times – April 2017
Google Life Sciences Exodus – STAT – March 2016
Verily, Google’s Health Gambit, Is Stacked With Scientists. Now It Needs to Build a Business – ReCode – December 2015
Google hires mental health expert to lead new life sciences unit – Financial Times – September 2015 (Subscription required)
Head of Mental Health Institute Leaving for Google Life Sciences – The New York Times – September 2015
Google Bets on Insurance Startup Oscar Health – WSJ – September 2015
Is Health Care Google’s Next Big Business After Search? This Investment Bank Thinks So – Re/Code – September 2015
Why Google Is Going All In On Diabetes – NPR – September 2015
Google’s health startup, AbbVie team up on drug research – Chicago-Sun Times – September 2015
Google Life Sciences Company Has New Deal, Official Nemesis in Diabetes – Re/Code – August 2015
Alphabet Breathes New Life, Resources Into Google’s Health Care Projects – iHealthBeat – August 2015
Google Health – Easy as ABC. Alphabet, Calico and the Aging of Humanity – What on Earth are they doing? – Digital Intervention – August 2015