More than 150 digital health entrepreneurs and investors from around the Asia Pacific converged on HomeStay’s Singapore offices in November to pitch, connect and collaborate to supercharge healthcare innovation in the region.

The Galen Growth Asia 3rd annual HealthTech Investor and CEO Summit 2018 brought together visionaries preoccupied with using technologies to create solutions to some important human issues, with participants including the heads of India’s 1mg, Vietnam’s eDoctor, Taiwan’s Health2Sync, Singapore’s Holmusk, Philippine’s Lifetrack Medical Systems, Hong Kong’s Prenetics and China’s We Doctor.

Other healthtech companies came from Myanmar, Malaysia, South Korea, Bangladesh, Thailand and Australia.

With more than 4000 healthtech ventures in Asia Pacific attracting over US$5 billion in 2018 to date, the sector is experiencing rapid growth and looks set to double last year’s total funding. It represents an unprecedented opportunity to address Asia’s growing healthcare challenges.

Indonesia’s YesDok, for example, provides a mobile platform linking 260 million users across 13,600 islands with Indonesian Medical Council-registered doctors, while Praava Health uses state-of-the-art diagnostic tools and a fully integrated, remotely accessible Hospital Information System to make quality healthcare accessible and affordable for every Bangladeshi.

Harnessing the promise of healthtech in the region requires stronger collaboration between the ecosystem’s key stakeholders and, the summit heard, commercial partnerships between investors and start-ups will continue to scale innovation.

“The two days were filled with stories from start-ups, venture capitalists and pharma in Asia,” said Aga Manhao, the CEO of HomeStay, which was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in November following a successful $4 million capital raising.

“The general feel was that the investment landscape is still very bullish in the region and, in fact, the total investment dollars invested in Asia are now only second to America.”

The investors in the room provided insights into their fortunes as early supporters of the digital transformation in the region.

“From the VC standpoint, they are only starting to see the true value of their investments, which over the next few years will show the market if their investments have been worth it. They also believe the success of these early investments will drive up the valuation of similar business in Asia, which they see as a positive thing,” Aga said.

While investor interest in the sector remains strong, they have learned from experience and are shifting focus.

“From a start-up perspective, there seems to be a lot of activity, however, VCs are now looking for business that can join the dots for them instead of just a single product or services offering. Asia seems to believe that a ‘marketplace’ model still works here and there was some commentary that the next Asia unicorn will be another marketplace play. The other interesting comment was that there is no need to invent something new – of all the current unicorns, all of them are a copy of another business model done better.”

The companies that will attract investment in future are those that can be applied internationally, Aga said.

“Most VCs are very attracted to teams that can take their business cross-border, saying it indicates that the business model can be replicated and scalable. They are also looking for a business model that is global, especially if it’s a product that has been developed in a small market such as Singapore.”

The summit also saw the announcement of the winner of the much-coveted Most Innovative Asia HealthTech Startup award, which went to Indonesia’s Halodoc – a secure platform that connects patients with doctors 24/7 via chat, voice and video call, as well as insurance companies, labs and pharmacies via mobile app.